Have you ever experienced a squash blossom that has been stuffed and fried? They are truly magical. So magical, in fact, it’s hard to stray from the classic. But I somehow found the courage to take a risk and try something new with my beloved blossoms. These Spicy Chicken Squash Blossom Tacos are the result of that leap of faith. And now, they are this household’s favorite taco, which is a touch inconvenient because squash blossoms are not always easy to come by. So I realize this recipe may be a tease for some of you at the moment. On the other hand, it never hurts to have a recipe at the ready for any unexpected blossoms that may enter your life.
When I see squash blossoms at my local grocery store, I grab them. Not in a busy-woman-trying-to-be-economical-with-her-time kind of way. It’s a more of Gollum energy. Even if the blossoms are plentiful, I square up to the display as if I were guarding a basketball net. I just don’t see them enough and, my gosh, do I love them.
Squash blossoms are just so pretty and fun to play with and I always imagined them to be quite versatile. But their relative obscurity, at least in the grocery stores around me, always makes me hesitant to play with them. I almost always default to the ricotta-stuffed and fried squash blossom experience that I know and love.
So, after finding squash blossoms stocked at my favorite grocery store four times in a row, I felt safe buying some for experimental purposes. And those “sacrificial” blossoms gave rise to these Spicy Chicken Squash Blossom Tacos. They taste like a cross between a Baja fish taco and a chicken street taco. Basically, a taco dream come true…or at least my taco dream come true.
Essentially, I followed the same script I would follow for the ricotta-filled blossoms. But I swapped the ricotta for a sort of chicken meatball mixture. I accented it with taco seasoning superstars, like chili and cumin. And gave the mince a hint of freshness by adding finely chopped cilantro stems, shallots, garlic, and serrano peppers. I opted for masa harina and egg yolk as binders and the result was a juicy, flavorful, and pleasantly springy filling. I also found the compactness and malleability of the chicken mixture made stuffing the blossoms much easier than with the looser ricotta filling I’m accustomed to.
After filling the blossoms, I dunked them in a light tempura-esque batter and fried them to a delicate golden color. The batter itself is less imposing than a beer batter, which allows the blossoms and filling to shine. From there all that remained was to tuck the freshly fried blossoms into a white corn tortilla and top it with the usual taco-suspects. In hindsight, I think a yellow corn tortilla would provide more of a contrast between the fried blossom and the taco. Just a note, if contrast is your thing. If flavor is your thing, get the tortilla that speaks to your heart.
There isn’t much else to say about these Spicy Chicken Squash Blossom Tacos other than they are delicious and not nearly as fussy as you would think. Sure, removing the squash blossom’s stamen and stuffing them requires a delicate hand. But if you go slowly and gingerly, you can avoid most of the pitfalls associated with stuffed blossoms.
But I have to say, you will have a few tears. You’re going to bust a few blossoms – it’s inevitable. Unless of course you’re an Italian nonna who’s been stuffing squash blossoms since before you were born… I think I just created a paradox. I over stuffed a few of the blossoms and, needless to say, they aren’t pictured. But I did batter them and fry them the same way I did their more perfect siblings and they held together and tasted great. So even if your blossoms aren’t photo-ready, I’m convinced they were make for good eatin’.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Spicy Chicken Squash Blossom Tacos. They’re a fun way to while away a rainy afternoon and they taste like a trip to a very unique taco stand.
Spicy Chicken Squash Blossom Tacos
- Large dutch oven
- Candy Thermometer
- 454g (1 lb) ground chicken
- 2 shallots finely diced
- ¼ cup cilantro stems finely chopped
- 3 serrano pepper halved and sliced thin
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp masa harina
- 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp salt divided
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp cayenne
- 12 squash blossoms stamen removed
- 4-6 cups canola oil for deep frying
- ¾ cup pastry flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup carbonated water
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 avocado pitted and sliced
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes halved
- yogurt or sour cream for serving
- hot sauce for serving
- fresh cilantro sprigs for serving
- Place the chicken, shallots, peppers, cilantro stems, and egg yolk in a large bowl. Add the masa harina, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, coriander, and 1 tsp of the salt and, using a clean hand, mix everything together until cohesive. The mixture should feel dense and a little springy. Cover and chill until ready to use.
- When ready to stuff the blossoms, use a tablespoon measure to portion out the chicken mixture. Roll each portion into a cylinder and place them inside a blossom. Close the petals around the meatball and gently squeeze, as you would a tube of toothpaste, to coax the meat mixture into the base of the blossom. Twist the petals to seal and set aside. Repeat with the remaining blossoms.
- Once all the blossoms are stuffed, you can start heating your oil. Pour the canola oil in a large dutch oven and place over high heat. Heat the oil until it registered 350°F. From here you will have to frequently adjust the heat to keep the oil between 350°F and 375°F throughout the frying process.
- While the oil is heating up, make the batter. Place the flour, cornstarch and remaining salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg white and carbonated water and whisk until smooth.
- Once the batter is mixed and the oil is ready, dip the blossoms into the batter before transferring them to the oil. Fry the blossoms until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the blossoms to a cooling rack placed on top of a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining blossoms.
- Once the blossoms are fried, it's time to start building the tacos. Wrap the tortillas in paper towel in a stack formation and place them in the microwave. Heat for 30 seconds – this will make the tacos more pliable.
- Place the toppings, condiments, blossoms, and tortillas on the table and encourage people to build their dream tacos. Serve with a round of beers.