Have you ever gotten very excited upon seeing certain ingredients at a grocery store? I just felt a massive one the other day when I least expected it. During a dining expedition to Knox Shopping Centre where we ate at Seamus O’Toole’s Irish Pub, we came across the grocery shop smack bang in the middle of the shopping centre walkway. It wasn’t all that big and somewhere in my memory I had believed this shop was expensive and not all that good.
Boy was I surprised when I saw the price tags and what products they had on offer! I’ve never seen cheaper baby spinach at only $3.99 a kilo, compared to Woolworths or Coles at over $16, that’s a bargain. They had weird and wonderful foods like Indian apples, whole tamarind pods, guavas, the cutest mini persimmons that you can eat with one mouthful, tiger melons (are these sweet or not? I don’t even know), white zucchinis, oh the list goes on and on.
Ever since dining at Mamasita a few weeks ago, I’ve been dreaming of having their salsa again. I dreamt of having it with tacos, with burritos, with corn chips and even non Mexican food. It was so zingy and delicious it was hard to get out of my head.
When I came across gorgeous small green tomatoes at this grocery store, I jumped at the idea of possibly recreating it at home, of course, given that it was actually green tomatoes I tasted which I really wasn’t sure of. According to Wikipedia, tomatillos are used in such salsas, but where in the world do I get those from? Green tomatoes will do.
So I bought a few ingredients to go with my salsa and I started making what I thought sounded about right. The end result was of course no where near the taste and quality of that at Mamasita because I had made a few incorrect judgements but it did nevertheless taste great and went just as well with a warm chicken taco.
It’s a perfect lunch or dinner recipe that fares well in any season, just make sure you fend off those hungry people to leave some for yourself!
Note: I made the mistake of slightly baking the green tomatoes and capsicum (I had them on 200C for around 10 minutes), it ended up making the tomatoes not as crunchy as I liked and made the salsa a bit more watery. So in the recipe, I’ve not done that as I think it would have tasted better just putting them in raw.
Grilled chicken taco with green tomato salsa
Makes 4 tacos and one large bowl of salsa
For the taco
- 4 soft medium sized tortillas
- 1 chicken breast fillet
- sea salt, pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin or Mexican/Cajun seasoning to rub on the fillet
- quarter red cabbage, shredded
- 4 lime wedges as garnish
For the salsa
- Half red onion, finely chopped
- 8 small or 4 large green tomatoes (unripe tomatoes)
- 1/2 capsicum, seeds removed
- 1 small green chilli (the heat of the chilli depends on what you can take), finely chopped after taking out seeds.
- Juice of 1 lime (add more if you like it more sour)
- 4 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 stalks of coriander, finely chopped
- leaves of 3 stalks of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ground cumin powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- A lot of olive oil (roughly 100ml)
Instructions – for the salsa
1. Chop green tomatoes and capsicum into small cubes.
2. I suggest to use a mortar and pestle to slightly squash the chopped garlic if you don’t like to bite onto raw garlic. This will also release garlic flavours.
3. Inside a large bowl, mix tomatoes, onion, capsicum, chopped green chillies, garlic, coriander and parsley along with the lime juice.
4. Add cumin and paprika, then salt and pepper to taste.
5. Drizzle with enough olive oil to make the salsa glisten.
Note: This recipe is quite easy to adjust so add more or less of each ingredient based on what you like. You can also substitute the green tomatoes with red tomatoes if you can’t find them, although this will make this into regular salsa and not green tomato salsa.
Instructions – for the taco
1. Rub the chicken fillet with salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika and/or Mexican seasoning meat rub. I used smoked sea salt instead of regular salt so it was extra smokey and delicious. For extra heat, you can also rub the chicken with some chilli powder.
2. Heat frying pan or grill to medium high with cooking oil.
3. Cook chicken fillet on both sides until slightly charred or golden brown. Watch out that having cumin and paprika on the fillet will make it easier to burn.
4. Cut chicken into strips.
5. Heat tortillas in a pan or in the oven until warm and soft.
6. Line the inside of each tortilla with red cabbage and then topped with chicken and a big spoonful of the salsa.
7. Serve with a wedge of lime on top for extra zing and to keep the taco closed.
Note: If you didn’t want to make the salsa, you can serve the taco with just some shredded red onions and tomatoes with a good squeeze of lime as well. If you have left over tortillas and salsa, you can try making tortilla chips (like corn chips but fresh and healthy) by cutting them into triangular shapes and baking them in the oven until dry and crunchy. They are beautiful when served with the salsa.
Question time: Is there a local grocery store where you can buy fantastic ingredients that’s hard to find elsewhere? What would you do with a fresh guava? It seemed like a waste to just eat it but I couldn’t think of a great recipe.