CALLING fans of all things Mexican. Old El Paso has created four soft taco kits inspired by real Mexican recipes from different areas of the country. These have been advertised recently but if you’ve thought of creating a fish, pork, steak or chicken dish and giving it a Mexican twist then these are definitely worth trying.
One of the great things about these kits is that each one comes with its own little history lesson. These are really interesting as they give you an insight into the Mexican life and how these recipes came about. All the kits also come with a spice and sauce pouch which enable you to create an authentic accompaniment to the soft tacos/fajitas.
You’ll probably be very familiar with incorporating chicken into a Mexican dish but the Chicken Tinga kit still manages to add another twist to the favourite. To give it its Spanish title, Tinga de Pollo, this dish is supposed to have originated in Puebla but has become a popular street food throughout the country and is used on celebratory occasions.
In terms of spice, the Chicken Tinga kit is probably middle of the road, it is spicy but it doesn’t burn your mouth. You are asked to use coriander and raw avocado and there is a pouch to make your own chipotle sauce. Avocado is of course the main ingredient of guacamole but to use it raw alongside coriander was something quite different. It gave the tacos a soft crunch which felt slightly weird but it did work rather well. The chipotle sauce was quite sweet and gave the tacos a slightly smoky taste. For those who aren’t the most adventurous in the kitchen, this would probably be the kit for you as it’s base is similar to usual Mexican food kits and you don’t necessarily have to use the sauce pouches if you don’t want to.
Pulled pork has been making waves across the UK recently. But the Pork Al Pastor kit offers an alternative way to cook the pork yet still create a North American taste. Pork Al Pastor is popular in Central Mexico but is actually believed to have come from Lebanese immigrants who introduced sharwarma spit-grilled meat to the locals.
This kit is a real combination of sweet meeting sour. The pork seasoning makes it taste a bit like a spicy sausage which is an extremely familiar flavour. Everyone who enjoys a Mexican dish is probably familiar with tomato salsa, however this kit introduces you to pineapple salsa. It is this that gives the taco a real kick and on its own, can be really spicy. They also suggest to use any extra pineapple in the tacos and this opposes the spice with a rather sweet taste and adds a very differing taste to the pork. On its own, this kit is quite spicy but if you prefer it a bit milder, added sour cream or guacamole can accompany it nicely.
It is arguably well known that a lot of foreign cuisines make use of shredded beef but the Steak Carne Asada kit takes it up a notch. Carne Asada literally means Grilled Meat so this is arguably Steak Grilled Meat which, although doesn’t make a lot of sense grammatically, can tell you how this kit is going to taste. In Mexico, the dish is usually cooked over an open wood fire.
This kit takes the longest to make as you are asked to defrost the steak overnight and left to marinate for a long period. With the marination, it is also arguably the most fiddly but also the most likely to lose flavour as a lot of the mix could be poured away if it is not soaked up by the steak during the marination. This kit also comes with a DIY guacamole and although it looks a little suspect compared to shop bought, it’s probably more authentic and tastes as good as any other.
Depending on how you’ve marinated and cooked the steak will depend how this kit tastes. The mix itself smells quite spicy but the taste is actually quite mild. You can also alter flavour by either grilling or frying the steak so this kit is probably the most subjective of the four.
Perhaps the most eyebrow raising of the kits is the Baja Fish. Fish can be a very underrated catalyst to a meal and as this Mexican dish shows you, it can be just as versatile as any other meal base. Created within the Baja California Peninsula on the western coast of Mexico, this dish makes use of the abundant sea food surrounding the area and fish tacos have become popular outside of Mexico due to its unique nature.
The obvious problem with a fish dish is how to make it flavourful as fish itself tends to lack it somewhat. The flavour in this kit comes from the Baja sauce which tastes a lot like a sour cream and onion dip that can be bought from a supermarket. So if you like that type of dip, you’ll like this sauce. It’s very mild and possibly the quickest of the kits to make. This fish is supposed to come out crispy but that didn’t happen on this occasion. The fish was quite crumbly and fell apart quite easily but that didn’t alter the taste and the addition of red cabbage gave these tacos a nice, refreshing crunch.
For something a little bit different on your Mexican nights, these are certainly worth trying and definitely expand the horizons of the conventional Mexican cuisine.
Price (kits only):
Pork Al Pastor – £1.50 (Asda)
Chicken Tinga – £3.77 (Morrisons)
Steak Carne Asada – £1.50 (Asda)
Baja Fish – £1.50 (Asda)
Calories per taco (a guideline only as how you have your taco will determine how many calories are in it):
Pork Al Pastor – 95
Chicken Tinga – 94
Steak Carne Asada – 95
Baja Fish – 97
Would We Buy Again (/5)
Pork Al Pastor – 4
Chicken Tinga – 4
Steak Carne Asada – 2
Baja Fish – 3