Barbacoa Bao Bun Tacos with Avocado-Pineapple Slaw

This is a great recipe to impress a crowd at your next party or impromptu gathering. It uses a Taiwanese-style bun with pre-cooked Mexican-style slow-cooked beef, and the slaw — which is more like a salsa when it’s ready — makes it a perfectly rounded snack or appetizer.

Barbacoa is traditionally made with slow-cooked beef head, and although the name and the low-and-slow style might make some Americans think of BBQ beef or pulled beef, the taste of Barbacoa is more akin to a slow-cooked beef stew with vegetables. The pre-cooked barbacoa from Del Real Foods (which is perfect for a quick snack like this) has great flavor but no spicy heat, but you can spice up the final version of your tacos later.

bao buns

A note about the bao buns: These are available in the frozen section of most Asian markets (like H Mart or 99 Ranch). Sometimes they are called Gwa Pao or Gwa Bao — or my personal favorite, “Taiwanese Hamburger Bun.”

For most brands, like the one I purchased, they are already fully cooked and split in half, and are prepared by simply removing them from the package and microwaving them for about 45 seconds. You can also just let them thaw out for about 20 minutes.

tacos

Barbacoa Bao Bun Tacos with Avocado-Pineapple Slaw

(Makes 10 small tacos)

  • 1 package (10 buns) of frozen Bao buns
  • 1 package fully cooked Del Real Foods Barbacoa
  • about 2 cups chopped green cabbage (approx. 1/2 of a small cabbage head)
  • 1 20-oz. can sliced pineapple with juice
  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)

First, prepare the slaw, which is sort of a fresh variation on curtido. Chop half of the onion (leave the other half for garnish), and 1 1/2 avocados (save half of one for garnish, too).

Then chop the pineapple slices and place the chopped onion, cabbage, avocado and pineapple in a large mixing bowl. Add the pineapple juice from the can, plus the vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano.

salsa ingredients

If you’re going to add the jalapeno, dice it and add it now. If you’re serving a crowd with varying tastes, it might be best to cut the jalapeno into larger slices and add it as a garnish when you assemble the tacos, so people who don’t like the extra heat can just remove the pepper.

spicy

Blend all of the slaw ingredients thoroughly (use a food processor or a vegetable chopper) and set aside. You can prepare the slaw up to three hours ahead of time — just not too much longer, or else your avocados might color a little.

This last step of blending the slaw in your food processor might not seem worth it, but trust me, it is. This way the bits of pineapple, onion, avocado and cabbage will adhere to the meat and the bun, instead of falling out.

slaw1

Put the barbacoa in a saucepan over high heat and let cook briskly for about 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and evaporated. Be sure to break up any big chunks of meat.

after

This will concentrate the flavor as well as giving the meat a nice sauce for your tacos.

Prepare the bao buns last — check the package, but more than likely, they are ready in the microwave in less than a minute, so obviously they need to be ready last.

barbacoa bun

Fill each bun with meat first, then add the slaw, cotija cheese and other jalapeno, onion or avocado.

closeup

Serve immediately.

with a beer

Fast and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla soup is one of my favorite soups to make.

I usually make it with homemade stock and seasoned chicken, but I discovered a very fast and easy way to make an even better version.

This recipe takes virtually no time — even when you crisp up the chips yourself. I start with Del Real Foods Chipotle Chicken Tinga, and use premade stock. Also, I use canned tomatoes, chilis and corn, but you can certainly substitute frozen or fresh vegetables if you like. Don’t forget some cheese, avocado and cilantro for a garnish.

ingredients

Easy Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

(Serves 8-10)

  • 1 16-oz. package of Del Real Foods Chipotle Chicken Tinga
  • 16 oz. chicken stock
  • 5-6 medium-sized corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 fresh limes, sliced
  • about 1/4 cup cotija cheese (for garnish)
  • salt and pepper

 

Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil into a medium saucepan and bring to medium high heat. Cut the tortillas in half, then slice into multiple strips.

tortilla strips

Place one of the tortillas (in strips) into the hot oil, and fry for about 3-5 minutes or until crispy. Turn off the heat. Remove from the oil, place on a paper towel to drain, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. (Keep the other, unfried tortilla strips.)

Dice the onion and place into the hot oil (you may need to add a little more oil), and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the corn and tomatoes with chiles, plus a little salt and pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the Chipotle Chicken Tinga (you may want to shred or chop it up a little, it’s in pretty big chunks straight out of the package) and the chicken stock, and bring to high heat – not quite boiling. Add the remaining, unfried strips of tortilla. Add salt and pepper, then squeeze the juice of the limes into the pot and turn off the heat. Take a taste and make add more salt or pepper if needed.

Garnish the individual soup bowls with chopped cilantro, cotija cheese, slices of avocado, and the crispy tortilla strips. Serve immediately.

chipotle chicken tortilla soup