There's something incredibly satisfying about eating with your hands, but sometimes it seems like everything in the world is held by the glutens. Pizza, burgers, wraps, sandwiches - gluten makes an excellent handle. But then there are tacos. I drive Jannell nuts trying to turn everything I can into tacos. Breakfast-tacos, stupid-fusion-tacos-that-should-just-unfuse-and-be-served-on-rice tacos, vegetarian-tacos, and these. These are my favourite tacos ever, modelled after a taco stand at Jean Talon market in Montreal that sells exactly one type of taco: cochinitas pibil. They start with the meat - pork shoulder slowly braised in achiote paste, garlic and orange juice. Then you add some refried beans for a nice soft texture to round out the pork. Throw some pickled onions, hot sauce and cilantro into the mix and you're done.
This recipe requires a shoutout to our friend Mat who introduced us to it. He made it for us one day and while it seemed like a large production the first few times we tried it, it became much easier once we got used to it and started treating the recipe more liberally. Don't have pork? Use whatever leftover meat/ tofu/ root vegetables are in the fridge. No vermicelli? Sub in some rice. Beansprouts always rot in the fridge so you don't know how anyone ever uses them in time? Skip them. There are two ingredients though that are absolutely necessary: pickled vegetables (traditionally carrots and daikons) and nuoc cham, a vietnamese "dressing" of lime, sugar, fish sauce, water and (optionally) garlic and bird's eye chilies. This dish is perfect for a warm summer day, since it's served with cold vermicelli noodles, raw vegetables and plenty of spice.