Recipe by Vince Medina
I think it is safe to assume that across Indian Country there is widespread love for Indian tacos, and California is no exception. We love the taste of Indian tacos, aware that these delicious and beloved taco recipes came out of basic commodity foods imposed on us by the American government and out of that Indian communities created something delicious. Many of us love the feeling of connectedness when we eat Indian tacos, knowing the pride each frybread maker lovingly and painstakingly perfect their recipes to be their best. We love Indian tacos, and that love is not going anywhere anytime soon.
However, after eating too many Indian tacos my pants started to get a little tighter I thought to myself: what would an alternative look like? As good as Indian tacos are, they are imposed foods that are not indigenous to us here in California.
I began to think about traditional ingredients that are indigenous to my Ohlone ancestors – acorn, nettles, chia, deer, and walnut, elderberry (just to name a few). Slowly but surely, my idea for an Ohlone “taco” came to fruition: traditional ingredients stuffed in a delicious acorn tortilla and eaten as a taco would be eaten. When I ate this dish, I could taste the truest flavors of home, it was healthy, filling, and it was culturally satisfying.
I hope you taste home, too.
Recipe for Acorn Tortillas
Makes 6 Acorn Tortillas, depending on size
- ¾ cup acorn flour
- 2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons walnut oil (or olive oil)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 cup of water
- Sift the flours and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
- Add the walnut oil and water in the center of the well and swirl to combine with a finger or two. When the dough gets shaggy, start bringing it together with your hands, then knead it on a floured surface for 5-8 minutes. Use a bit more flour if it is too loose.
- Lightly coat with more walnut oil, wrap in plastic and set aside for at least an hour.
- Take the dough out of the fridge if you’ve put it in there and let it warm to room temperature. Get a griddle or a well-oiled cast iron pan hot over medium heat.
- Cut the dough into equal parts; I’d suggest between 6-8. Roll them out one at a time with a roller and then your hands – they don’t not be perfect, you want them thin, though, about 1/8 inch.
- Lightly oil the griddle and cook the tortilla one or two at a time for 2-3 minutes, or until it begins to get nice and brown. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Keep them warm in towels while you make the rest.
After the acorn tortillas are completed, top the acorn tortillas with your favorite California Indian ingredients: Ground deer, smoked salmon, roasted duck, walnut butter, chia seeds, nettles, roasted mushrooms – for a few ideas.
For me, I added roasted deer, along with nettles topped with chia and elderberry, with a side of walnut butter.