Friday, May 5, 2017

Cinco de Mayo - Recipe Battle Royale

On the 5th of May, 1861, Mexico battled and defeated the French invading army. It became a celebrated holiday started in the United States.


And here in Los Angeles the clashing continues in the Cheap$kate Cocina. For my latest recipe roundup it's Mexican verses the French, redux, and the battlefield is the palate. Can we all get along? Forget about it - bring out the heavy artillery and let's duke it out, plate vs plate.

Skirmish one: Tacos Baja Fish Tacos vs Ludo Truck French Fries and Fried Chicken.

Forever on lists of best taco joints in Los Angeles, Tacos Baja makes one of the most delicious Fish Tacos in town. These battered deep fried filet torpedos of perfection are also one of the best deals around, especially on Wednesdays, when they are sold for only 99 cents!



The Fish Taco is loaded with a Mexican machete chopped tomato/cabbage slaw that is topped with cream and chile sauce. When you try to pick up the taco half of the slaw is left on the plate, so be sure to get a forked slaw detector and sweep over the plate to get all that spilled.

The deep fried batter is well-seasoned and cooked to perfection. The fillet has a thick seasoned crust and the bass fish filet is flaky and moist - a detonated depth charge of flavor.


This Mexican pescado taco is a winner, even at the regular price of $1.69 per taco. Your strafed taste buds happily surrender to such crunchy deliciousness. To see what I'm writing about just check out my video review below. (And click here to see my cheap$kate recipe you can make in your own foxhole.)



16032 Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90603
ph: (323) 887-1980For Tacos Baja website, click here.

The French return fire with Top Chef star Ludo Lefebvre's fried chicken fastfood truck. How does the Ludo Fried Chicken Truck compare to Tacos Baja Fried Fish Tacos?
  

You would think Chef Ludo has all the culinary training to deliver a coup de grace with his fried poultry ordnance. Not so quick mon ami, fried chicken is an Southern staple so you better have a toothsome battle plan. 


Compared to the Colonel's KFC, the Ludo Truck's Chicken Strips ranks a Private. Fried chicken, when done right, has moist meat with a brightly seasoned crunchy coating. While Ludo's Chicken Strips meet the first requirement, it deserves a blindfold and firing squad for an under-seasoned coating. Chicken Strips start with a handicap -- the skin is usually removed, so the crust has to be exceptional. 


Chef Ludo needs to bone up on Southern fried chicken seasonings, especially if Chicken Strips are the ordnance of choice -- or take your fried chicken strips in a more original and delectable direction.


Now the white meat tenders are moist, and is a generous portion, even at $5.50 for two. While the coating is crunchy enough and not objectionable, it's just bland and boring. I expect more from a Top Chef contestant.

The another item I have tried from Ludo Truck is the French Fries -- and I hate to say it, but no improvement here. Chef Ludo should just wave a white flag and surrender.


You would think French Fries from Frenchman Ludo Lefebvre would be a direct bullseye hit, wiping out other fries contenders, but they are more of a warhead dud. These French fries are limp and under-seasoned. Maybe because I am more of a Belgian double-fried crispy fries type. (Chef Ludo, you can checkout my recipe video for a better French fry by clicking here.)

Even though the Ludo Truck fries seem fresh, and thick cut, almost any fast food burger joint makes them better, even when made from frozen pre-cut spuds. Don't fill your mess kit with this meal, stick to MRE's. Okay, at ease... now check out my video below to get all the so-so tasty details.



So in this battle royale, Mexico blows the French out of the water, and not because it's cheaper, it's just tastier.

Sortie two is a battle of soup recipes: Calabasita vs French Onion Soup.

Calabasitas is a Mexican veggie stew made with a bunker-full of summer squash. It's spicy comfort food, a dish often ordered by my wife at a local Hollywood Mexican restaurant, and shared over a happy hour of frosty margaritas.


Along with squash, you need an ammunition belt of onion, corn (fresh or from a can), tomatoes, a can of mild green chiles, cilantro, and finally, some melting cheese as a topping.

Be sure to choose a cheese that is firm, like Jack, mozzarella, Swiss, mild cheddar, or my favorite, Mexican Queso Fresco (avoid processed American cheese; it will melt into a soup - save it for a grilled sandwich).


They say the military marches on it's stomach, well Calabasitas is hearty enough to satiate any soldiers appetite.

So how does Calabasitas stand up to French Onion Soup?


Sweet caramelized onions in a broth of red wine and beef flavor is a full-on invasion of savoriness. It takes a lot of slow cooking sliced onions to make a French Onion Soup. But the time invested is worth it. And when you add a thick slice of toasted French bread and a slab of melted cheese, well you have to succumb to this flavor bomb.

So in the battle of the soups the white flag of surrender is waved by Mexico - France gets the win, but just barely. There, you have your revenge for the last culinary resounding defeat.

 Finally, clash three is a Battle of the Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros vs a French Cheese Omelet.

I've been making Huevos Rancheros often lately. And the reason is: it's the bomb! You got corn tortillas, creamy refried beans, crumbly Mexican cheese, and fried eggs topped with more cheese and tangy salsa. 

You are hit from all sides with this gatling gun of disparate flavors. And it's an easy recipe to make. Just heat up some tortillas and refried beans to add to your fried eggs. I prefer Mexican cheese, but you can use what you have on hand. Deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce with your favorite salsa, either fresh or from the jar.

Just check out my video below to see my cheap$kate version.



It's Guerilla vs Classic Warfare. Technique is paramount to make a French-style Omelettte. I took me a several counter-offensives to finally conquer it. 


Mainly you gently stir the omelet until it is almost done but still lightly moist, then add the cheese and fold the egg. It's served with a damp interior. Oh, and you fry the omelet in butter; so in your own battle of the bulge, fitting into your fighting gear will be a lost cause.


Once you've tried my version of a French Omelette, you will never surrender to any other kind. Check out my video recipe below and start you own cooking maneuvers.



So who won the War of Breakfasts? Man it's a tough decision...I can't decide, so I'll call a truce in this kitchen combat zone - both recipes are victorious!

Everyone is a winner in this war of appetites, so don't wait to be drafted, just volunteer from my recipe boot camp and give any of the above battle-tested recipes a try. 

*Click on any recipe name to see the original blog post recipe or review.

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