Have you ever watched “Taco Trip” on the Cooking Channel? My sister Kat told me about this show hosted by Aaron Sanchez taking a look at the best tacos across several cities. I started watching and couldn’t stop thinking about all those tantalizing tacos. One that stood out was an Asian taco from New Orleans at the Pho Bistreaux that they called Bacos. It’s made with marinated strips of pork shoulder and topped with pickled carrots, cilantro and sliced jalapenos. A steamed bun or Banh Bao is used in place of a tortilla. You can make the dough by hand or there is a pre-made flour mix that you can find at an Asian food store. While looking for the mixed flour I happened upon some frozen pre-made buns which I thought would be easier especially for my first time making these. The frozen pre-made buns steamed perfectly but I think I will give the mixed flour a try next time. The chef at Pho Bistreaux gave away many of the ingredients but she wouldn’t disclose her master marinade sauce which she said had only 5 ingredients. So I put on my thinking cap and came up with my own 5 ingredients that I thought would make a tasty marinade. I was amazed at how yummy these tacos tasted. There are a lot of flavors layered on these tiny steamed buns and I can see why they are so popular!
This makes a lot of tacos and you may want to cut down the recipe. We ate about half and froze the remaining marinated meat for the next batch of Bacos. But I’ll give out the full recipe and let you decide if you want to trim it down by half or more. Thinly slice 2 pounds of shoulder roast. I added a thinly diced medium shallot, 3 diced kiwi, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped lemon grass plus the Master Sauce. The sauce I came up with included soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, grated ginger, raw sugar and chili paste.
Mix that all together. The Pho Bistreaux only marinated carrots, however I wanted a little more crunch so I added some bean sprouts and a bit of cucumber. The pickling sauce is what gives these tacos a kick in the pants!
Pho Bistreaux grilled their pork but I used my mini wok to cook the meat. Make a single layer over high heat whether it be a grill or a wok. It took about the same amount of time as steaming the buns, 8 minutes.
Place as much meat as you think you can hold in the center of the buns. Add a little bit of pickled veggies, a stem of cilantro and a slice or two of jalapeno. Joe and I thought the acidity of the pickling sauce was the perfect pairing for the pork and drizzled just a tiny bit over the top.
These tiny Bacos may be small but they are filling. The steamed buns go perfectly with the marinated pork and pickled veggies.
Bacos aka Asian Tacos (adapted from Taco Trip/Cooking Channel/New Orleans/Pho Bistreaux)
Banh Bao Steamed Buns, I used the frozen buns that came packaged in the freezer section of an Asian Market.
2 pounds Pork Shoulder Roast, sliced into thin pieces
1 medium Shallot, thin diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons Lemongrass, minced
3 Kiwi, peeled and thinly diced
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 inch knob Ginger root, grated
1 tablespoon Raw Sugar
2 tablspoons Chili Paste, I used Sambol Oleek
Combine all Master Sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside
Asian Pickling Sauce (adapted from The Perfect Pantry – Asian Pickled Cole Slaw)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
1 1/2 teaspoon Ginger root, grated
1/4 teaspoon Chili Paste, I used Sambol Oleek
Spritz of Lime Juice, about 1/4 Lime
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Dash of Black Pepper
Combine all Pickling Sauce ingredients together and set aside.
1/3 cup Carrots, matchstick cut
1/3 cup Bean Sprouts
1/3 cup Cucumber, matchstick cut
Slice the pork roast thin and into strips. Place pork strips into a large bowl, add shallots, garlic, lemon grass, kiwi and Master Sauce. Stir until all pork strips are coated, cover with a lid and place in refrigerator at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Combine pickling sauce with carrots, bean sprouts and cucumber. Let marinate at least 30 minutes before making Bacos.
Place frozen Banh Bao buns in a steamer or place an insert inside a wok with approximately 2 cups water. Once the water is boiling, set a heat safe plate on top of the insert and place buns on top of plate. Place the lid on the wok and let buns steam for 8 minutes.
Heat another wok on high. Place pork strips single layer and cook, stirring after about 3 – 4 minutes so as to get some caramelization on the meat. Cook until all the juices have been absorbed and pork is cooked through approximately 8 minutes total.
To assemble Bacos, add 2 – 3 strips of pork inside a steamed bun. Top with pickled carrot, bean sprouts and cucumber sticks. Add a sprig of cilantro and 1 or 2 slices of jalapeno on top.
Drizzle a little of the pickling sauce over top if you want. Enjoy!
Makes approximately 24 – 30 Bacos