My mouth was on fire – the lip-burning, eye-watering, nose-running, hiccup-inducing kind of fire. Warm charred corn tortillas encased grilled green chorizo sausage, crisp salty fries and the hottest guacamole I’d ever experienced. We were standing on the sidewalk in Mexico City beside Ricos Tacos Toluca, a street lunch spot adorned with vivid loops of red and green chorizo, and I had foolishly assumed the innocuous looking bowl of avocado next to the (much spicier appearing) salsas would be just that – a soothing side. Wrong. It didn’t stop them from being the best tacos I ate on the trip, but I was much more wary of potential heat levels from then on.
We spent 3 days in Mexico City over New Years, and I had only two regrets – that it was only three days (I could have spent weeks) and that it was New Years, when many restaurants, cafes and street stalls shut down for the holiday break. However, it did mean the city was much quieter and easier to navigate, and I know I will be back.
There is history in abundance – the pre-Aztec civilisation at Teotihuacan, the Aztec ruins at Templo Mayor, the Spanish churches and missions, Chapultepec Castle and the more recent Anthropology Museum. There’s the art and culture in Diego Riviera’s murals, Frida Kahlo’s home (and now museum), and the Palacio de Belles Artes (to name just the most well-known). There are the many green spaces of Chapultepec Park, Parque Mexico and others. The markets are some of the best in world – Mercado de San Juan, the specialty market where chefs shop, the local Roma mercade de medelin, and the kind that are so big you might need a guide, like mercado de la merced. There are the restaurants, cafes and shopping of areas like Condesa and Roma, where we drank coffee and devoured guava croissants from Rosetta Panaderia and experienced modern Mexican food at Fonda Fina.
For my brothers, it was the al pastor tacos: rotating flaming vertical spits of marinated pork, the meat skillfully sliced with a bit of grilled pineapple onto fresh corn tacos and topped with onion and coriander (El Tizoncito in Condesa were our favourite). And that isn’t to mention the churros. Churreria el Moro has been open since 1935, and is still open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with queues out the door. The churros are worth the wait in line – served straight from the fryer, they’re golden, crunchy and coated with cinnamon sugar, and best eaten dunked in rich chocolate sauce alongside a steaming mug of spicy Mexican hot chocolate.
After spotting Jenny’s green chorizo recipe over at Hello My Dumpling, I knew those original heat-blasting tacos deserved a recreation at home. I did have difficulty finding fresh mexican ingredients in this part of the world, particularly the fresh chiles, so adapted everything a little to what is normally available in New Zealand and Australia. If you are in the US with access to serrano and poblano chiles, go ahead and use those instead!
The green chorizo is not nearly as hard as you might imagine: ground pork is combined with coriander and parsley, toasted and ground spices, charred chiles and garlic, and fresh blanched spinach for extra green. It’s spicy and fragrant, and you could easily make more to freeze. It’s topped with a fresh, chunky guacamole, full of lime and coriander, and finished with oven-baked crispy potato chips (or fries, depending on where you are from!) and quick roasted cherry tomatoes.
- I had difficulty finding fresh mexican ingredients in this part of the world, particularly the fresh chiles, so adapted everything a little to what is normally available in New Zealand and Australia. If you are in the US with access to serrano and poblano chiles, go ahead and use those instead! Here I used 3 green chiles (asian green cayenne, I believe) – the original recipes tended to use 2-3 serrano chiles and 1 medium poblano pepper.
- The guacamole heat is also dialed down, though you can easily adapt this to your chile preference.
- Try to find corn tortillas if you can, but flour tortillas will also work.
- The green chorizo can also be used to make meatballs – just add an egg to the raw chorizo mixture to bind it.
- 500g / 1 pound ground pork
- ⅔ cup roughly chopped coriander
- ⅔ cup roughly chopped parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 long green chiles (asian green cayenne, I think - just the ones ubiquitously available in NZ and Australian supermarkets). See Cook’s Notes above for more information.
- 8 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
- 2 cups packed fresh spinach
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup finely diced white onion
- 1 green chile
- salt to taste
- ½ cup coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 large avocados
- 1 lime
- 1 punnet / 250g cherry tomatoes
- 5-7 large agria potatoes
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- corn tortilla, 2-3 per person
- In a small fry pan over high heat, dry toast the black pepper corns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and bay leaves until fragrant. Remove from the heat, transfer to a spice grinder or high speed blender with the dried oregano and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
- Return the fry pan to the high heat and roast the unpeeled garlic cloves and green chillies, turning a few times until slightly softened and blackened in spots, about 10 minutes. Set aside until cool, then peel the garlic cloves. Use gloves to deseed the chillies.
- In the same fry pan, add a tablespoon of oil and sautee the spinach over a medium heat until wilted. Transfer to a sieve and use the back of a spoon to press out some of the liquid.
- In a blender, puree the roasted garlic cloves, green chiles, wilted spinach, red wine vinegar and salt until smooth. Add the chopped parsley and coriander and blitz a couple of times until evenly chopped through, but not completely smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, powdered spices and chile puree with gloved hands until blended. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
- In a mortar and pestle, pound the finely diced onion, green chile, salt until very well combined and almost paste-like. Add the coriander and pound a bit more.
- Half the avocados, dice into small chunks and scoop into a bowl. Add the onion mixture and stir to combine. Add the lime and stir to combine. Taste to season with extra lime, salt, coriander or chile to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Wash the potatoes and slice into chips, about 1cm thick. Spread out the fries on a metal oven tray large enough to hold them in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat with the oil, spread into a single layer and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and tender, flipping at halfway so each side of the chips cooks evenly.
- About 15 minutes before the fries are done, half the cherry tomatoes and place on another baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
- To cook the chorizo, heat a large fry pan over medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Cook the chorizo 5-8 minutes until cooked through (you may need to do this in batches if you have a lot of mince).