Alex Stupak is an award winning chef and owner of three New York City taquiera’s – Empellon Cocina, Empellon Taqueria, and Empellon al Pastor. This perfectly positions him as the authority on Taco’s. He is sharing his experience and flavor in his book, Tacos: Recipes and Provocations.
The first thing that you will notice about this book is its high production quality evidenced in its textured cover, heavy pages, and beautiful imagery. The food pictures provide the reader with a profound sense of anticipated style, taste, and place.
The book is a single resource for all things taquiera. Stupak includes recipes for tortillas, salsas, and tacos. These are each broken down by ingredient type. There are recipes for corn, flour, and neo-traditional tortillas. Salsa recipes include those made from fresh chile, dry chile, tomato, tomatillo, and nuts and seeds. Taco recipes by meat choice are chicken, beef, pork, offal, and seafood. Special taco sections include dessert tacos, egg tacos, and veggie tacos.
The book opens with an explanation and description of essential items for the Mexican pantry. A list of the chiles used throughout the book is provided. The back of the book includes a list of suppliers for hard-to-find ingredient items.
These recipes are all delicious, however, this book is not for the beginning cook. Thought must be taken prior to engaging in the creation of these delicacies. The recipes included require advanced planning and preparation. Each recipe clearly outlines the items to be prepared in advance, this is incredibly helpful in the planning of these meals and entrees.
One of my favorite parts of the book, is the inclusion of cochinita pibil. This recipe includes a whole section on how to create a back yard under-earth fire pit for the cooking of a whole pig. Stupak goes into great detail to describe the pit building process, and how to properly select, prepare, cook, and serve the suckling pig.
This book should be on the shelf of any serious cook that enjoys the many flavors that Central American food and culture has to offer.