Deviled Egg Tacos with Sikil Pak from ‘Tacos’

This week, we’re spotlighting recipes from Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman (Clarkson Potter). Stupak is the owner of Empellón Cocina, Empellón Taqueria, and Empellón al Pastor in New York City. Try making the recipes at home and let us know what you think!

Photograph: Evan Sung

By Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman

Makes 12 tacos 

It’s peculiar that hard-boiled eggs are such a crucial part of Yucatecan cooking; you don’t see much of them elsewhere in Mexican cuisine. But boiled eggs are everywhere throughout the peninsula: stuffed into tamales, rolled into enchilada-like papadzules, stewed with ground meat and chile paste in relleno negro—the list goes on. This taco is a nod to that tradition. We devil the yolks with salsa habanera and pair the halved eggs with red onion and sikil pak, a pumpkin seed dip common in the Yucatán. The taco is spicy and nutty, with the satisfying texture of firm whites and creamy yolks bundled in a supple tortilla.

ADVANCE PREPARATION
1⁄2 teaspoon Salsa Habanera (see below), plus more for serving
3⁄4 cup Sikil Pak (see below)

FOR THE FILLING
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Kosher salt, as needed

TO ASSEMBLE THE TACOS
1⁄2 medium red onion, minced
60 cilantro leaves (from about 15 sprigs), roughly chopped
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges
1 recipe Corn or Flour Tortillas 

MAKE THE FILLING: Slice each egg in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the yolks and transfer to a large bowl. Set the whites aside on a plate.

Add the Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, and ½ teaspoon of the Salsa Habanera to the yolks and whisk together until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Spoon the yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe a rosette of the mixture into each cavity of the egg whites. Set the deviled eggs aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

Make one batch of tortillas and hold them warm.

ASSEMBLE THE TACOS: Lay out the warm tortillas on serving plates. Place a tablespoon of Sikil Pak on each tortilla and spread using the back of a spoon. Evenly distribute the deviled eggs among the tortillas and top with the minced onion, chopped cilantro, and a small amount of Salsa Habanera. Squeeze a couple of the lime wedges over the tacos and serve the rest on the side.

Makes about 1 cup

The habanero chile is a tricky little siren. Give the pepper a sniff as it chars in a skillet, and it’s all passionfruit, guava, and fresh-cut grass. Bite into it, and you’ll enjoy a few seconds of those flavors before the heat locks its jaw around your tongue. To love the habanero is to be in constant pursuit of those opiate moments just before the capsaicin rolls in. Tropical fruit and old-growth pastures—nothing in the world tastes so beautiful and is so ephemeral. When working the habanero into a salsa, I like to get out of its way—add some simple aromatics and sweet citrus, then let the pepper do its thing. 

If you’re using a molcajete for this salsa, note that the habanero skin becomes leathery when roasted, so grinding the salsa takes some elbow grease.

1⁄2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
10 habanero chiles
1⁄2 medium white onion, cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 orange, juiced and zest finely grated
1 lime, juiced and zest finely grated
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

EQUIPMENT: Molcajete*

*If you don’t have a molcajete, prep all of the ingredients as instructed and add them all at once to the jar of a blender. Pulse to combine and season with salt. 

Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the oregano and toast briefly, shaking the pan until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to a molcajete.

Roast the habanero chiles in the hot skillet, turning them from time to time, until blackened in spots, about 15 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Add the onion slices to the skillet and roast, turning them from time to time, until softened slightly and blackened in spots, about 6 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Roughly chop the roasted onion and add to the molcajete along with the salt and sugar. Using the tejolote, crush into a paste.

Remove and discard the stems of the roasted chiles and cut into quarters lengthwise. Roughly chop the chiles and add to the molcajete, followed by the orange and lime zest and juices. Continue working the salsa to a coarse texture.

Stir in the cider vinegar. Transfer to a container, or refrigerate until ready to use. The salsa will keep for up to 3 days.

Makes about 2 ¾ cups

Mexican cuisine is a rich example of indigenous fusion: Spanish, Moorish, even Lebanese influences are deeply interwoven with the country’s native pantry. So to understand the pre-Hispanic flavors of Mexico, you have to look back to an ancient recipe like sikil pak. The secrets of this addictive Yucatecan dip are hidden in its Mayan name: Sikil (pumpkin seeds) and p’ak (tomatoes) are roasted and ground together, along with the region’s most prevalent chile, the habanero. This stuff is like alphahummus, packed with protein and engineered for compulsive snacking. I use half a habanero to get the spice just right, but you can add more or less of the chile depending on your heat preference.

1 plum tomato
One 2-inch stick of canela (Mexican cinnamon)
2 cups raw, hulled, unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 habanero chile
3 garlic cloves, skins on
1⁄2 medium white onion, cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices
1 sour orange (substitute a lime if you can’t find this fruit)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
60 cilantro leaves (from about 15 sprigs)

Preheat the broiler. Roast the tomato on a baking sheet under the broiler until blackened in spots, about 7 minutes. Turn it over and continue to blacken, another 7 minutes. Remove from the broiler and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once it is cool enough to handle, peel the tomato and discard the skin.

Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the canela and toast, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from the heat, transfer to a spice grinder, and grind to a fine powder. 

Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Toast the pepitas until they puff up and turn brown, shaking the pan constantly to prevent them from burning. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Grind the pepitas until a powder forms and begins to stick to the sides of the bowl.

Reheat the skillet, then roast the habanero, garlic cloves, and onion slices, turning them from time to time, until softened slightly and blackened in spots, about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the vegetables from the skillet, and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic cloves and discard the skins.

Add the roasted tomato, garlic, onion, and half of the habanero to the bowl of the food processor with the ground pepitas. Cut the sour orange in half and squeeze over a medium-mesh strainer directly into the bowl. Add the ground canela and the salt and cilantro leaves, along with ¾ cup water; pulse to a coarse puree. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. The sikil pak will keep for up to 3 days.

Reprinted with permission from Tacos: Recipes and Provocations

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe from ‘The Best Mexican Recipes’

Mexican Rice Pudding from ‘Muy Delish’

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