Taco Night Fridays is a
Mexican*cough-cough*, I mean Swedish tradition. Aside from the usual long lines at most SYSTEMBOLAGET Stores across Sweden before the weekend begins where the folk who live along the Vodka Belt of the planet load up on all manner of their favourite drink, the Taco Night has an even more powerful draw.
|A Swedish Traditional Food = Taco Fridays!|
Interestingly it all starts at your local Swedish Grocery Store. We like to shop at the local ICA-MAXI Store in Torslanda or the ICA Kvantum Store in Sannegårdenhaven Eriksberg on Hissingen.
|MAXI ICA Stormarknad - Torslanda|
It all begins here in the Produce Section. Quite often in the produce section there will be a display with products from brand names like Old El Paso & Santa Maria. These companies provide all manner of Mexican Spices, Tortillas, Taco Shells & Tubs (like the ones introduced by Taco Bell in the 1960s) jars of Salsas etc etc etc. They will have Avocados and Tomatoes displayed in among these other products on Fridays to induce people into purchasing these for Friday Night Tacos. Funny thing here about that word Taco. To a Swede, everything Mexican is Taco. Doesn't matter if we're talking Enchilada, Burrito, Chile Relleno, Taquitos, Quesadilla or whatever, it's all Tacos. I think it's a Socialist version of Logam where everything must be equal.
Ah here is my section. I would have photographed the entire thing bit these two feisty ladies wouldn't get out of the way - whatever! Al manner of things Mexican from Tortilla Chips (plain or flavoured) Flour Tortillas and a phony type of corn tortilla which is mixed with wheat flour which basically has the same taste as flour. Anyone who has had corn tortillas knows what I'm talking about. Now this section is dedicated to all Old El Paso & Santa Maria brand name products, but still such a large aisle dedicated to the Mexican palate is something one would not expect to find in northern country like Sweden. For me it's a life saver.
This section is important for getting grated Cheese for Tacos. I purchase a bag labeled Pizza Ost(cheese) for this. You can also get something called Creme Fraiche(sour cream) from the Dairy section where milk is located.
This is the Torslanda Bakery section, but I prefer bread from ICA Kvantum Store at Sannegårds. When they remodeled this store a couple of years ago they gave up a bread brand in favour of another which for me was cheaper and less quality. ICA Kvantum Store in Sannegården picked up the older brand which has the more rustig chewy bread.
Okay, so here is what I pick up at any of the stores throughout the week fresh for making Salsa. I actually dislike the canned or jar brands. The first thing one needs is an electric food processor. I have used a manual hand crank salsa maker, but I like the electric it's faster. The one pictured here on the right looks exactly like our own on the kitchen counter. They're great and beat the hang crack gadgets on the market
Next I first choose either the Jalapeno or Habanero chiles for adding the flavour and heat that I want. I often have gotten into trouble from my family for purchasing and using the Habanero. As you know, many northern Europeans burn their lips on Ketchup. Actually these Greenhouse grown Jalapenos are bred for Gringo Styled palates.
Next I need to red or yellow onion for the Salsa. Usually I choose yellow onion for this. Good quality onions are hard to come by in Sweden. Of course most everything produce-wise is imported from warmer countries that grow it. I often joke about onions being grown in Israel or Africa and loaded onto an old wooden sailing ship which has been out to sea for months before arriving at Gothenberg Harbour. You have to carefully choose by squeezing for firmness because often times that can be rotten inside, especially in winter.
And what Salsa would not be the same without a good strong fresh garlic for which you will need a good garlic hand operated press tool. I use about three or four cloves from the garlic bunch. When you think about it, all of these ingredients which go into making salsa are a very healthful bunch & sickness preventative.
Next you will need some Cilantro or as the Euro-zone refers to it as Coriander. This is usually one thing that is missing in many of the Salsas made here in Europe I've tried. When generally get the Santa Maria brand nicely packaged Coriander or purchase large bundles from a few of the Immigrant produce stores here in Sweden which often have better and bigger quality and quantity. We go through a lot of it every week and so buy large bundles. The immigrant stores also usually have better prices. Even quality. Well, at least larger sized produce. They have connections.
Now finally there both limes and spices to add to the final flavouring of your Salsa. Seriously , what Mexican Food wouldn't be without some good limes ? Not only have we used a half of one in the Salsa for freshness and preserving, but what is left over can be used for your Corona Beer or for making your own Margarita mix. Margarita Mix here is outrageously expensive, almost $10+. We make half the mix with fresh squeezed lime juice and the other half with a sugary lime juice syrup concentrate from the store.
Of course the spices, I almost forgot- We purchase the already made Santa Maria or Old El Paso Taco Spice mix blends in the small packets. Mostly though it is Santa Maria. Original Taco Spice mix and/or some of the Habanero Salsa mix. They actually have a huge variety of mixes. We get the Chile Con Carne mix for bean and ground beef chile making and also the lime and coriander or smoked chile flavoured. All of them very good and fun to experiment with.
Now is the time to put it all together. Main ingredient first though are the Tomatoes. We buy over here the Dutch Green House grown in what are called Kvist Tomatoes which look like the photo above to the left. These are always identified by the green stems still connected to the bunch. In that food processor and cut up into four quarters the tomato and I figure about two thirds of the blender should be tomato. Next I use one large yellow onion which I cut in half and then half again to get four chucks which I put in the blender. Next four or five garlic clove peeled and pressed into the mix. As far as chiles, I use two Jalapenos or just one Habanero depending on what type of salsa I want. I finely slice length-wise several chile thin strips after cutting off the stem and then finely chop these thin slices to make little bits and add them to the mix. Next I take about 8 or 10 long stems of Cilantro (Coriander) and chop them finely on a cutting board before adding them to the mix. I then add generous portions of the Santa Maria Taco spice mix to the mix leaving about a quarter of the mix in the package, but you can add as much or less to your own taste. I have created mixes from scratch, but this store brand is fast and easy and tastes perfect. Then I add the half wedge of whole lime squeezed into the mix, put the lid on and blend. Depending on how long you blend, you will get a Pico de Gallo mix which is chunky in texture or liquefied to a hot sauce blend.
Pico de Gallo is a chunky type of blend as seen here for which you may use the blending food processor to accomplish or do it by hand.
Real Salsa on the other hand is more of a blended liquefied texture for which many prefer to dip their corn chips into. Well, this should get your Taco Night Fridays off to a good start. Next week I'll do a Part Two with the actual taco making and my own Guacamole mix. Oh and don't forget the Coronas or Margaritas !!! BTW, Corona 3.2 Beer can be purchased at ICA MAXI & Kvantum Stores.
|Corona with Lime - Don't Be Greedy!|
References and websites for recipes:
And for people in the United States here is a website to a southwest Mexican Grocery Chain store that I absolutely love when I'm there. I could love working at this place.Cardenas Market
|Cardenas Market - El Centro California|