Tacos Arabes (Cumin-Marinated Pork Tacos)

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This recipe is adapted from Serious Eats and shows the variety of Mexican food.  It came from Puebla and apparently from Middle Eastern immigrants who brought the shawarma technique with them and then adapted it to Mexican ingredients and tastes.  This home version roasts the meat at a low temperature in a loaf pan and then cuts it into thin pieces which are pan fried to brown and crisp them.  It is served with 2 sauces – one like tzatziki except with parsley replacing cucumber, and a chipotle sauce.  The meat itself is not spicy hot.  It is a lot like carnitas.

This needs to be started the day before it will be eaten.  It will make about 8 servings.

The Pork

2 lbs. of fatty pork roast (I used country ribs)

½ small yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbs. fresh lime juice

1.5 tsp. ground cumin

1.5 tsp. dried oregano (Mexican if available)

2 tsp. kosher salt

8 oz. sliced bacon, cut in half

The Chipotle sauce

1 (7 oz.) can chipotles in adobo sauce

1 medium clove garlic, chopped

2 tsp. distilled white vinegar

2 tsp. dried oregano (Mexican if available)

1/8 tsp. ground cumin

1 cup water

Kosher salt to taste

The Yogurt sauce

1 cup whole milk yogurt

1 Tbs. fresh lime juice

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped

Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Thinly sliced onions

Thinly sliced cabbage

Cut the pork as thinly as possible.  It may be helpful to put it in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to firm up the meat for slicing.  In a large bowl toss the pork with the onion, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and kosher salt.

Line a bread loaf pan with aluminum foil.  Put a layer of bacon pieces on the bottom of the pan and cover with a layer of the sliced pork mixture.  Continue to layer the bacon and pork mixture until it is all used up.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 4-36 hours.  (I did it overnight.)

After marinading, uncover the loaf pan and put it in a preheated 275 degree oven.  Cook it until the temperature in the middle of the meat is 180 degrees, which will take 2-3 hours.  Cool the loaf pan on the counter and then cover and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

While the meat is chilling, make the sauces.

For the chipotle sauce, put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add a little water if too thick.  Add salt to taste.

For the yogurt sauce, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.  Check the seasoning.

When ready to finish the meat, remove the loaf of meat from the pan saving the fat and juices.  Thinly slice the meat into shreds.  Put some of the fat from the pan in a large skillet, and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced meat and cook a few minutes until browned and crispy.

Serve the meat on pitas or flour tortillas with the sauces and some sliced onion.  Carol think the next time I should also have some thinly sliced cabbage for some crunch.


1 thought on “Tacos Arabes (Cumin-Marinated Pork Tacos)”

  1. Oh, I ate tacos Arabes in Puebla in the early 70s, one of my favorites. I was at the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula for two years, and lived in Puebla most of that time. Thank you for a recipe!

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