Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while already know I am a die-hard carnivore. But I never mentioned that I’m also a raging taco-holic. I can eat ’em all day, every day. The list of recent orders on my Uber Eats account supports this claim. I follow at least 5 or 6 Instagram pages that are solely devoted to tacos. On restless nights, I curl up in bed and salivate over tortillas stuffed with succulent carne asada and all the fixin’s until my eyes finally close. Last night was one of those nights.
It was 3 a.m. and my stomach was wide awake. I scrolled aimlessly through IG and stopped immediately when I came across one of my favorite taco pages, @OttosTacos. This enchanting little taqueria resides in the food mecca of America–New York City. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the privilege to actually taste the tacos myself, but my highly-detailed imagination leads me to believe that I have a good idea. But until that glorious day we finally meet, Otto’s Tacos, I’ll wait faithfully.
The menu at Otto’s is quite unique. Of course, they have the classics like carne asada, al pastor, adobo chicken etc. But there are select “seasonal” tacos, like the short rib, which nearly made me orgasm in traffic from the picture alone. But the one that caught my eyes last night was something I’d never seen or imagined before….
A brussels sprout taco.
No meat. Just the sprouts, a corn tortilla, some kind of sauces and the traditional cilantro garnish. If you would have described this to me prior to seeing the picture, I would have matter-of-factly explained to you that this thing did NOT have the right to be called a taco. But the picture was absolutely mesmerizing, and I couldn’t help but want to try it. Here’s the actual image from @OttosTacos that inspired this entire conversation…
Looks delicious right?!? And to think…it’s missing the most important component to any taco….or so I thought….
Because I have some vegetarian/vegan/pescetarian readers who don’t always get to enjoy the recipes I post, I felt like a brussel sprout taco was worthy of an experiment. My goal was to figure out how to make a copycat version of Otto’s, plus add a few unique touches of my own. I went out of a whim and scanned through online reviews from several foodies who’d tasted Otto’s rendition, and took notes.
From what I’d read, his Brussel sprouts had been pan-fried and tossed in a honey-chipotle style glaze, then topped with a creamy chipotle aioli.
Based on my extensive knowledge of all these flavors, I could definitely see it being a hit. Having made a honey-chipotle glaze and chipotle adobo aioli before, I knew that part would be a breeze. But in order to call this taco my own, I decided to make it even more vegetarian-friendly by adding sauteed eggplant for texture. And in place of traditional pica de gallo salsa, I broiled grape tomatoes and mixed them with some caramelized shallots, garlic, and cilantro. I piled everything onto a warm tortilla, saluted the taco gods, and went in for the kill.
I won’t say it was delicious because it wasn’t. It was more than delicious. I haven’t yet found an adjective that would sufficiently describe how it made me feel…but just know I’m happy that no one was around to witness me devouring these. My eyes were closed most of the time, I don’t remember if I actually breathed between bites. But I was sucking sauces off my fingers, licking up juices that rolled down my forearm, and when it was over I immediately wanted to go another round.
A meatless taco. One of my favorites things in life, deconstructed right before my eyes and I wasn’t ready to start a riot. I honestly couldn’t believe I’d even made something so f*cking awesome, let alone enjoyed it as much as I did without meat or chicken or seafood. So what I will say is this, the honey-chipotle glaze is critical. It gives the veggies wicked flavor! You don’t have to do the eggplant, but I don’t see why you would do anything other than trust me–just follow this recipe exactly the way I did it. Oh, and the roasted tomato & shallot salsa gives it a more refined touch than traditional pica de gallo. All in all, THIS IS A HIT.