Tex-Mex foodies have long debated the differences between the two dishes that originated in these regions: enchilada vs taco. While some appear to have figured out the answer on their own, others are still struggling to tell enchiladas and tacos apart.
Suppose you don’t know how to distinguish between the two savory dishes, no worries. We’re here to dispel some common misconceptions regarding enchiladas vs tacos.
Along with that, our quick guide will walk you through the differences in their origins, ingredients, and other meticulous details to help you perfect your Mexican recipes.
Generally speaking, enchiladas can be considered a type of burritos. They are made up of a maize or flour tortilla that has been filled with ingredients and tightly wrapped. Also, enchiladas include sauce and cheese, which are served with a choice of sides. It’s one of the few Mexican meals that can be eaten with a knife and fork.
Enchiladas are thought to have begun as a street meal and developed through time, with the earliest recorded form being a rolled tortilla coated in chili sauce. The term is made up of two Nahuatl words: “chili” and “flute.”
These enchiladas go well with a simple side of thinly sliced iceberg lettuce drizzled with apple cider vinegar and salt. Iceberg lettuce is crisp and cold, and it’s the perfect texture and flavor to go with these enchiladas. You may also top them with sliced avocado or guacamole, sour cream dollops, and fresh chopped cilantro.
For your information, enchiladas are mentioned in the first known Mexican cookbook, El Cocinero Mexicano (“The Mexican Cook”), published in 1831. Fillings in the nineteenth century were a little less complicated than we are accustomed to. For example, olives and onions or picadillos (pork with onion). The cheese was occasionally strewn over them.
The hard, yellowish shells we could find on grocery shelves are nothing like an actual Mexican taco (pronounced “TAA-koh”). Instead, the original taco is a little maize flat roll with toppings that have been freshly prepared.
Spiced meats, fresh vegetables, beans, pulses, and creamy cheese can all be used to create different flavor combinations. The distinctive shell shape develops as you raise the soft taco on both sides with your fingers, transforming the topping into a large filling.
The hard taco (American or Tex-Mex) is often regarded as the signature taco offered throughout the world. There are, however, a plethora of places that provide a softer option.
It’s not truly an authentic taco if you use wheat flour instead of cornflour or add iceberg lettuce to your taco. There’s no harm in breaking a few rules, though, thanks to a plethora of delectable variations.
Enchilada Vs Taco: 4 Factors To Tell Them Apart
The taco’s exact history is clouded in doubt. One of the more plausible explanations concerns Mexico’s silver mines in the seventeenth century. A taco was originally a paper casing folded around gunpowder to be used as an explosion.
The term “taco” was not connected with a specific cuisine until the turn of the century, when tacos de minero, sometimes known as miners’ tacos, became popular.
Mexican immigrants brought tacos to America at the turn of the twentieth century. Since then, American taste preferences and locally sourced ingredients have inspired the taco’s growth, with minced meat and iceberg lettuce becoming standard toppings thanks to Americans’ eating habits.
Meanwhile, enchiladas are said to have originated in Mexico, where the technique of wrapping tortillas around other foods dates back to the Aztecs. Corn tortillas folded or rolled around small fish were traditionally eaten by people living in the Valley of Mexico’s lake region.
Besides, enchiladas were mentioned in the first Mexican cookbook, El cocinero mexicano (“The Mexican Chef”), published in 1831, and Mariano Galván Rivera’s Diccionario de Cocina, published in 1845, as part of the commemoration of Mexican cuisine.
The secret is in the packaging. A taco is stuffed with meat and veggies before being folded in half to form a crescent shape, whereas an enchilada is loaded with meat and cheese before being wrapped into a cylinder shape.
In addition, the tacos are often served in a tiny corn tortilla shell and are considered more of a snack than a full meal in terms of size. On the other hand, the simple enchiladas are typically served as a meal in a giant wheat tortilla.
Building up delicious layers is the key to filling tacos. If you use only simple components with minimal diversity, the dish will be bland and flavorless. However, if you dare to add additional variation to the mix, you’ll be rewarded with a taste experience.
You’ll need a variety of fillings to produce a great taco. Spicy meats, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole are all popular alternatives. Here are some real-life examples for you to try: Zucchini, corn, feta, parsley, and mint, pumpkin, and chorizo, spicy chicken, and beans
If you want modern but traditional Mexican enchiladas, the chef will first make a chili sauce, which will flavor the enchiladas. The sauce is made of many varieties of dried red chili peppers, such as ancho, guajillo, jalapeno, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and sour cream.
Next, corn tortillas are cooked in oil before being dipped in the sauce on both sides. This is rolled with a filling of your choices, such as chicken, minced meat, or a vegetarian filling. Finally, cheese is sometimes put in, but it is usually placed on the top. Although this step is optional, the enchiladas are generally cooked in the oven until everything is heated.
Ingredients are one of the primary distinctions between taco and enchilada sauces. More precisely, the spice that gives each sauce its distinct flavor.
Chilies are used to make the enchilada sauce, while cayenne pepper is used to make a great taco sauce. Furthermore, chili powder is usually used in a great enchilada, whereas smoked paprika is used in taco sauce.
Taco sauce comprises tomatoes, onions, and sweet or spicy peppers, much as ordinary salsa. You may also enhance tanginess by using vinegar or lemon juice. However, unlike salsa, all components for taco sauce must be blended and simmered until a thick, yet smooth texture is achieved.
On the other hand, enchilada sauce does not always contain tomatoes, but it is pureed and heated to a more liquidy consistency. People prefer tomato paste over tomato sauce when there is a tomato present. Tomato sauce brings all of the flavors together in a taco sauce. The tomato paste is one of the flavors of an enchilada sauce.
Perhaps you’ve already figured out your final answer to the age-old question we presented at the beginning of this article. If that’s the case, we’d love to see you make sensible choices when it comes to selecting the proper Tex-Mex cuisine to satisfy your taste buds.
Probably, visiting your favorite Tex-Mex eateries down the road will no longer be a stressful experience. You can thank us later by coming back for more valuable tips and articles.
Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of Elpasony.com. She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.