Culinary Misappropriation: Taco Bell Shawarma Sandwiches

Last week, I wrote about cooking with drugs (again), specifically regarding diarrhea. This is the greatest food blog in history. I only repeat that all the time to make me feel better about myself.

User Mostly_Apples on Reddit got mad at me and said, “Wow. Please don’t anyone do this. I’m sure it’s just a joke but don’t fucking mix all those medicines.” Mostly_Apples brings up a good point. Rather than mixing over-the-counter medicine, I highly recommend you mix heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy instead. This may not cure your diarrhea, but you will have a good time on the toilet. Frankly, you will have a good time doing anything.

Speaking of diarrhea, I’ve been to Taco Bell three times in the past two weeks. I am a complete master of segues.

If I could have sex with a whole fast food corporation, it would be with Taco Bell, but you guys already know this. Every now and then I go on Taco Bell binges and this dark period in my life happens to be one of them, mostly because I hate myself, and I like eating my own shame. I am, however, only human, and sometimes I get bored. I am extremely bored of sleeping with your mother at this point, so sometimes it is important to switch it up. I had her throw me off a cargo plane recently to recreate this movie scene since our sex life has gotten so dull.

Taco Bell Shawarma Gordita Ingredients

What I am about to tell you will blow your mind.

Taco Bell isn’t exactly Mexican. I cried when I found out the Doritos Cheesy Crunch wasn’t something I could find in Oaxaca someday. I thought about this as I took my bite of my sixth steak Gordita Supreme, tears rolling down my chin, doing that stutter hiccup thing you do after you cry really hard.

Taco Bell is what you get when someone explains Mexican food to you for the first time, and you try to recreate it from crudely drawn pictures. The Gordita Supreme is kind of like that — it’s like a gyro sandwich, served on a pita and everything, yet it is somehow supposed to be a taco-type thing too. Chefs like to do this all the time and call it “fusion” when they actually have no idea what they’re doing. That way, they can call their kimchi macaroni and cheese ravioli pizza unique, and inspiring.

“Dannis,” I said to myself, looking at my mostly eaten Gordita, “Can you take this non-Mexican food, combine it with a food you don’t know well, and piss off as many regions of the world as possible, while pretending to have good intentions?”

With enough drugs, I can do anything.

Taco Bell Shawarma Gordita

With that in mind, I decided to turn my very nice Taco Bell steak Gordita Supreme into a beef shawarma sandwich.

I have lots of shawarma places in my neighborhood at least five within a mile radius. I eat it pretty often. Shawarma sandwiches, for you uninitiated, are simple roasted spiced meat sandwiches. The meat is typically cut off a vertically rotating spit and served in a flatbread such as pita, along with things like hummus, tahini, and pickled vegetables.

I ordered steak Gordita Supremes, refried beans, and pico de gallo. The people who work at Taco Bell are very nice and separated the Gordita Supreme ingredients like I requested. The lady even asked me if I wanted my pita bread to be given to me without heating, in case they got stale before I used them. That was some next-level service!

I wanted to ask for a hug too. And a job.

Taco Bell Shawarma Gordita Spices

When you are cooking with dry spices, it is very important to make sure you use the oldest, most flavorless dry spices you forgot about in your kitchen cabinet.

Let’s be serious. Everyone has a cabinet full of dry spices that are at least three years old. When I cook with dry herbs and spices, I always buy a lot of them and say, “I will cook with these all the time.” Then I end up ordering takeout every night, telling myself, “I will cook tomorrow,” as I gobble down the horrible pizza from down the street that I vowed never to order again after that one time.

Taco Bell Shawarma Bean Hummus

Let’s start with the refried bean hummus.

When you order a side of refried beans at Taco Bell, it comes with a topping of shredded cheese and taco sauce, because apparently people cannot eat anything without cheese and sauce on it.

Taco Bell Shawarma Bean Hummus No Cheese

If you let it cool off for long enough, the cheese becomes like a type of lid that you can easily peel off with your fingers.

I’ve peeled cheese off of your mother’s body before. It usually peels off with a bunch of hair stuck to it. I don’t know why you guys return to this blog week after week to read this kind of garbage. Every time you visit this site you lose a lot of brain cells. Those don’t just grow back, you know.

Scoop out all the refried beans and throw them violently into the blender.

Taco Bell Shawarma Bean Hummus Tahini

Next, put a few tablespoons of tahini in the blender too.

Tahini is simply ground sesame seeds. It tastes a little bit like peanut butter with a thinner texture and a high oil content, but it is a staple ingredient for hummus. You’ll often find a thinner version of it as a condiment for things like shawarma or falafel. I’m really angling for authenticity today.

Taco Bell Shawarma Bean Hummus Blender

You’ll want to toss a fresh clove of garlic in there as well.

It is hard to tell since this is a very big blender, but that clove of garlic was huge. It was like a clove of garlic that ate two other cloves of garlic.

Taco Bell Shawarma Bean Hummus Lemon

Squeeze some lemon juice into the blender, and blend away!

If the mixture appears too thick, you can pour a small stream of water or bleach into it until it is at a texture you enjoy.

Bleach! Just kidding. Do not put bleach in your food! I was just seeing if you were paying attention. Dannis, you kidder. I am an example of what someone becomes after extreme isolation and no physical contact for five years. Jesus Christ. Someone please come over, whisper sweet nothings into my ear, and cradle me. I’ll even let you rob me blind.

Taco Bell Shawarma Bean Hummus Done

Put your hummus into a bowl, smooth over the top with a spatula, place it on a plain surface and take a picture of it top down.

This is how very important food bloggers become successes. You’ll see this angle in a lot of food photography, because it is very trendy right now.

Taco Bell Shawarma Bean Hummus Stool Feet

See?

This is just a cool behind-the-scenes reveal at The Pizzle. This interesting black surface is just the top of a stool! I’m so innovative. Also those are my cute little toes in the picture. I’m quirkier than Zooey Deschanel, whose name looks misspelled, but it isn’t.

Taco Bell Shawarma Tomato Salad

For the pickled tomato salad, chop up a shitload of parsley. 

You want to use a lot of parsley to get a real Mediterranean flavor into your Taco Bell pico de gallo. It’s so authentic. So modern. So fusion.

Taco Bell Shawarma Tomato Salad Lemon

Squeeze some lemon juice on top, stir, and she’s good to go!

It’s time to take another picture of your food that looks effortless yet somehow emotionally intimate at the same time.

Taco Bell Shawarma Tomato Salad Finished

Just like you did with the hummus picture, take your bowl of tomato salad and put it on an interesting textured surface like a napkin.

Let it bathe in sunlight, where it will look gorgeous, natural, and not staged whatsoever. This way you won’t look like you’re clamoring for Internet attention from all the other food bloggers, but really, deep inside, you’re just looking for validation.

Taco Bell Shawarma Tomato Salad Finished Couch

Gotcha!

This is actually my couch. My ratty, disgusting, stained couch, that is now 75% farts and maybe up to 12% human tears. It’s where I watch the movie Beaches every night. That Bette Midler, her voice is really something.

Taco Bell Shawarma Beef Spices

Now that your refried bean hummus and tomato salad are set aside, you can start on your shawarma steak flavoring.

I chose a mix of paprika, coriander, cumin, ground chiles, and sumac. You can also add in allspice, turmeric, nutmeg, or cinnamon. It’s really up to you, and there’s so many different spice combinations when it comes to shawarma. Add particle board if you want. But the organic kind.

Taco Bell Shawarma Beef Spices Oil

You might think it’s as easy as tossing your already-cooked Taco Bell steak pieces with dry spices, but that will not work.

Your food will be gritty and the spices will taste raw. You don’t want to sully Taco Bell with dried, uncooked spices. Stop fucking around.

Taco Bell Shawarma Beef Spices Oil Mixed

Instead, mix your spices with a few tablespoons of olive oil and let that heat gently for 10 minutes.

Think about all the people you’ll be pissing off while cooking this recipe, such as Taco Bell fans, authentic food purists, bloggers, culinary experts, and professional basketball players.

Taco Bell Shawarma Beef Spices Oil Mixed Finished

Once your kitchen fills up with the aroma of gently heated spices, you can toss your Taco Bell steak into the mix, coating every piece with the flavored oil.

Notice I didn’t add any salt — Taco Bell meat comes salted already. They did the hard work for you. You’re just ruining it on your own.

Taco Bell Shawarma Pitas

The gordita bread, otherwise known as “pita bread,” just needs to be reheated in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

Microwaving flatbread might seem like cheating, but the moisture from the bread steams it. It’s fine as long as you eat it right away. Is this important to you? Probably not. I am kind of convinced you guys are here to see if I’ve finally thrown up after eating one of my recipes.

Or if there’s an obituary posted, saying, “He finally did it.”

Taco Bell Shawarma Finished

Shit, guys.

I was ready to get pissed at myself for my own cooking again, but this is actually really good. Does it taste like shawarma? Yes. Does it taste like Taco Bell? Also yes. The refried bean spread is delicious and slightly nutty from the tahini sauce with a fresh acrid bite of garlic to it. The spice-coated meat tastes like Mexico had babies with the entire Mediterranean region of the world, and the parsley tomato salad is tart, refreshing, not entirely fresh-tasting (it is Taco Bell, after all) and still mostly like pico de gallo, but it’s a wonder what fresh herbs can do to fix most culinary situations.

Taco Bell Shawarma Finished Bite

If fast food culinary misappropriation is wrong, I never, ever, want to be right.

There is one last very important detail, however.

Taco Bell Shawarma Finished Bite Fire

Taco Bell Fire hot sauce is the greatest sauce that comes in a half-sized condom packet.

If you got rid of the whole recipe and just started sucking Fire sauce right out the packet, I’d probably find you and marry you right on the spot. But you know, your mother might get a little jealous.

Taco Bell Shawarma Sandwiches

For the refried bean hummus:

  • 4 side orders of refried beans
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 gigantic clove garlic
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste

For the tomato parsley salad:

  • Three side-orders of Taco Bell pico de gallo
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste

For the steak shawarma:

  • 5 steak gorditas, steak only, pita and steak separated
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the hummus:

Take the cheese lid off the refried beans and dump all ingredients into the blender, along with your sense of hope and longing for life to get better. Blend it until it is well incorporated, adding water to get it to the texture you prefer. Set aside.

To make the tomato parsley salad:

This is really just Taco Bell pico de gallo with parsley and extra lemon juice in it. If you can’t do this, then I can’t really help you.

To make the steak shawarma:

Heat all of the spices with the oil in a large saucepan. Stir occasionally, adding broken dreams as needed. After 10 minutes, dump the meat in and heat until warm and entirely coated with the spice mixture.

Microwave your pita bread for 10-15 seconds, layer all ingredients into flatbread, and prepare for half of the world’s population to come hunting you down. You’ll be dead in 15 minutes.

 

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  21 comments for “Culinary Misappropriation: Taco Bell Shawarma Sandwiches

  1. Emily
    April 26, 2016 at 11:02 AM

    Maybe it’s the Professional Staging influencing me, but I would (and maybe will) absolutely make and eat that. Also I am always going to Taco Bell and stealing shameful fistfuls of fire sauce for my sister who lives in England. Have you ever had English “hot sauce”? It’s 90% sugar.

    • Dennis Lee
      April 26, 2016 at 11:42 AM

      Use a lot of spices. The hummus is actually my favorite part! Also, there is no such thing as “shameful amounts of Fire sauce.”

      • Emily
        April 27, 2016 at 6:27 PM

        I don’t know, man– I think if you ever saw me in Taco Bell surreptitiously stuffing fire sauce into my purse while trying not to meet the eye of the teenage worker so I don’t have to see their pity, you would be stricken with some fairly profound second-hand shame.

        • Keef
          May 2, 2016 at 1:02 PM

          I have bought bottled Taco Bell brand Fire Sauce at my local supermarket. More than once. Okay, more than a handful of times.

          • Emily
            May 22, 2016 at 6:58 PM

            Whoa, you can buy it bottled? What have I been doing with my life?

          • Dennis Lee
            May 23, 2016 at 5:09 PM

            …it’s not the same thing as it is in the packets. When you go to Taco Bell make sure you take about 10 handfuls.

  2. Eve
    April 26, 2016 at 11:48 AM

    This looks really good. I’m so disappointed in you.

    • Dennis Lee
      April 26, 2016 at 1:37 PM

      I wanted to live for more than two weeks longer.

  3. April 26, 2016 at 1:05 PM

    This legitimately looks good. You should do a Chef Dannis’ Meat Hut restaurant pop-up somewhere, like an alley, Superfund site, or Rahm’s bedroom.

    • Dennis Lee
      April 26, 2016 at 1:37 PM

      I vote Rahm’s bedroom. We will touch tips.

  4. David
    April 26, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    Fast food hacks seem like a really great idea. Looking forward to what you do with Pizza hut and Jack inthe Box.

  5. Neurozach
    April 26, 2016 at 4:27 PM

    Dannis, after the past few weeks, I’m happy for you and my mom that you made something that wasn’t just edible, but surprisingly delicious. High five!

  6. Jim
    April 26, 2016 at 9:45 PM

    100% agreed re: Fire sauce. Also, this looks really great.

  7. Jeremy
    April 28, 2016 at 12:49 AM

    I like how your hair is included as one of the dry ingredients in the pan, you always add the personal touch.

  8. skye
    April 28, 2016 at 2:09 AM

    This seems like a turn in some kind of positive food-as-actual-food upbeat direction, but I see through it. This “shawarma” you speak of is nothing but a kebab! And here I must turn to the immortal words of Jarvis Cocker on the subject of kebabs (and bad sex with strangers, but that’s sort of beside the point):

    “The only similar thing (to bad impersonal sex) is having a kebab. Everybody knows that kebabs are a bad idea. They do, really. You can’t excuse them on any grounds of nutrition or otherwise, but somehow, when you’re really pissed, really fucking hammered, you get into that perverse frame of mind where you think, ‘Right, I’m hammered. I’m a mess. How can I take it further?’ And the answer is: ‘I’ll have a kebab.’ Somehow it rounds the experience off and you get some kind of perverse satisfaction from the knowledge that you were low, and yet you thought of a way of taking it lower. And there is something you can learn from that – not necessarily something that you’ll want etched on your gravestone, but it’s good to acknowledge that sometimes you get those unwise impulses. Somehow, from taking it that far, you get something out of it.

    • Dennis Lee
      April 28, 2016 at 12:38 PM

      Yes, I thought shawarma just sounded so much cooler. I have had chunky shawarma cut like the steak they use at Taco Bell too. There is no skewer either way, but my heart is in the right place. Most of the time. Also my ass.

  9. Charles
    April 28, 2016 at 12:26 PM

    Normal people: Oh look Taco Bell

    Dennis Lee: Hey, this is would be great transshawarma

    Yes, that’s right. You made transshawarma. Certain southern states are going to restrict which bathrooms you can have this diarrhea in.

    • Dennis Lee
      April 28, 2016 at 12:40 PM

      Nobody should be restricted when it comes to diarrhea.

  10. Jade
    May 6, 2016 at 10:00 PM

    Love the cheese-wheel of spices, with about $250,000 worth of saffron. Dude, you should sell it on ebay!

    • Dennis Lee
      May 7, 2016 at 11:49 AM

      That wheel is from Turkey. My parents brought it home for me like two years ago and everything tastes like dust now. We will all return to dust.

  11. Janet
    August 9, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    You do understand that tacos al pastor are Mexican shwarmas? The vertical rotisserie was brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, and the dish eventually evolved into a pork and pineapple miracle

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