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Calamari Tacos with MVP Sauce

Anyone who likes to eat tacos knows that anything you can think of putting in a taco shell is going to work so don't get bogged down with only using "mexican" taco fillings. You can use any kind of seafood or meat or chicken. If you are some sort of crazy vegetarian, feel free to use some tofu or some sort of chickpea thing - whatever. The Kid's favourite tacos are greek tacos where we use tzatziki and leftover shrimp from  Garides me feta. Asian flavours lend themselves to the flavour of the corn tortilla as well since they also use lots of lime, cilantro, garlic and hot chilis. Oh, and don't get me started on the delights of a breakfast taco full of fluffy scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, a bit of cheese and a dribble of buffalo chipotle sauce.

I always like to say that I would eat dog poop if it came in a fresh corn tortilla and although I don't really advocate eating dog poop, I think you get the idea. I really like all manner of food wrapped up in a little corn tortilla.

I had a taco from La Carnita last spring that had calamari and some sort of crazy yellow sauce that I think might have been pineapple habernero or something and I still daydream about it. My friend got it for me at a food truck event while I lined up at another truck (the line up was almost 2 hours long for La Carnita) so by the time the taco got to me, it was cold and you know what? It didn't matter - it was that tasty. Instead of trying to replicate their hot sauce, I made one using mango and some aji amarillo paste instead and it was really delicious. We have some good friends are Peruvian and they use this hot and tasty yellow pepper in many of their dishes and I have been dying to find ways to use the paste that they gave me so I am especially happy with the end result. I am calling it MVP sauce in honour of Gino, the giver of the paste who is our Most Valuable Peruvian. The buttermilk crema idea came from a fish taco The Kid ate from Hooked at the Leslieville farmers market this morning. The cool, creamy buttermilk is the perfect foil for the spicy hot sauce. Add some fresh, crunchy pea shoots and you have yourself a delicious little taco.

I will admit one thing right now - just between you and me and the dog. I will totally make these again because they were the bomb, but, when I do I will buy good corn tortillas from La Tortillaria instead of making my own because I have a really tiny kitchen and it was just kind of overwhelming to try to make fresh tortillas at the last minute while I am also trying to deep fry squid at the last minute. You might be super comfortable deep frying but I am slowly overcoming an irrational fear of burning down my home and I am a bit of a nervous deep fryer and need to give 100% of my concentration to that vat of boiling oil to ensure that I don't kill everyone I hold dear.

Bottom line is that this is a total winner and both boys said it needs to go into the regular dinner rotation. Hank added smashed up avocado to his and then Shack added some pickled golden beets to his so feel free to mix it up.

Way better than dog poop any day.

Squid Tacos
corn tortillas
deep fried squid
mango aji amarillo sauce or MVP sauce
fresh baby pea shoots (you can sub in anything green and crunchy - shredded cabbage is the norm)
buttermilk crema

on a warm corn tortilla, lay out a few pieces of calimari. Drizzle some MVP sauce and some buttermilk crema over the squid and then plop on a bit of pea sprouts.
Eat it.

Corn tortillas
2 cups masa harina
2 cups warm tap water

mix together the masa  harina and the water and cover and let it sit for about 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. When it's time to make your tortillas, check it and if it feels a bit dry, add more water, a tbls at a time until if feels like soft cookie dough.
Preheat a dry cast iron griddle or pan over med high heat.
 Divide it up into about 16 golf ball sized balls and cover. Take one ball at a time and either roll it out really thin or use a tortilla press (wrap the two discs in plastic wrap) to press out each tortilla.
Cook the tortillas for about 30 seconds per side (they should puff up) and wrap them in a clean tea towel until you are done all of them. You can let them sit, wrapped in the warm tea towel for 10 or 15 minutes as well.

*if you don't want to make that many tortillas, just always use equal amounts of warm water and masa since these tortillas don't really hold all that well so only make as many as you are going to eat for dinner.

Calamari/Fried Squid

about 1 lb cleaned squid, cut into rings like for calamari (great photo tutorial on how to clean squid)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
enough vegetable oil to reach about 3" deep in your pot of choice

Rinse the squid thoroughly and pat dry. Cut the tentacles in half lengthwise and the tubes into 1/2-inch rings. Set aside.

Place the flour ,cornmeal and cumin into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. In small handfuls, dredge the squid in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Another cool trick I remember seeing on a youtube video was to put the flour and cormeal mixture into a baggie and then throw the squid in there, shake it around and then set a strainer over a bowl and dump the calamari into the strainer. Give the strainer a few shakes and it will dump the excess flour mixture into the bowl and you can just grabe the breaded squid out of the strainer to throw into the hot oil. I haven't tried that method but I keep meaning to.
In batches, gently lower the squid into the hot oil. Cook for 1 minute. The squid will not be really browned, but lightly golden in color. Remove the squid and transfer to a cooling turned upside down set over a newspaper-lined cookie pan or on a plate lined with a couple layers of paper towel. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Repeat until all of the squid is cooked. Make sure to check the temperature of the oil before each batch to ensure it is 375 degrees F. Serve immediately.

Mango Aji Amarillo sauce or MVP sauce 
adapted from Bobby Flay

1 tbls veg oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 mango, chopped
3 tsp aji amarillo paste
2 tbls honey (or to taste)
1/2 cup white vinegar
salt to taste

heat oil in a small pan over med heat and sauté the onion and garlic until it's soft. Add in the chopped up mango and the pepper paste and cook, stirring often, for about five minutes. Add in the honey and vinegar and cook over low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour that  mixture into a blender and puree til smooth. Strain it through a strainer over a bowl and taste. Add salt to taste

Buttermilk Crema

1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbls greek yogurt
1 tsp lime juice
pinch kosher salt
1 tbls chopped cilantro

mix together the all of the ingredients and taste and adjust seasonings if you wish.

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