Black bean tacos with pico de gallo

Taco with pico de gallo, cream, cheese, and cilantro in my kitchen in Stockholm, 2020

Mexican dishes are so popular around the world, that it was difficult to find any authentic recipes. As always, luckily, the Wikipedia article provides a good introduction. In contrast to a burrito, the taco is ideally hand-sized, topped with filling and condiments, and folded around before being eaten by hand. The burrito is much larger, and often rolled instead of folded. My tortillas were not ideal; not large enough for proper burritos, but too large for comfortable folding in the hand. At least they were still made from corn flour. Corn, beans, and chilies form the holy trinity of Mexican cookery. Let’s get to it.

I opted for a filling of black beans and tomato. Quickly stir some finely chopped garlic and jalapeño (including seeds) in hot oil, before adding onion and carrot. Sweat them off and add some tomato. At this point, I also added my spices. What I found to work exceptionally well, is both plenty of cumin powder and finely crushed coriander seeds. Add salt and sugar to taste (especially the sugar will give it a flavor more similar to those seasoning packets you guiltily buy in the supermarket). Adding sugar isn’t necessarily a bad thing here. It is all about balancing flavors. The heat from your jalapeños, the savoriness from the tomato, earthiness from your spices, acidity from your condiments, saltiness from the cheese, and then some sweetness. Finding a nice balance is a personal endeavour. My personal style is a craving for hefty kicks from all angles.

Let your sauce simmer for at least half an hour, adding water accordingly, pouring black beans in there along the way. In the meanwhile, I rushed to the supermarket for salsa ingredients. Pico de gallo is just some chopped tomato, onion, and serrano peppers (jalapeños also work), with salt, lime juice, and cilantro. Because of the ingredients’ colors, people also call it salsa mexicana or salsa bandera. Throw everything in a bowl, and ideally let it stand for a while in the fridge. A chilled salsa tastes just a tad better, and it gives the ingredients the chance to bathe in the lime juice for a while.

I find it nice to warm up the tortilla, so it becomes a bit more moist. Spread a spoon of cream on the tortilla (I had some cream cheese lying around, which also worked fine), drape a blob of the black bean and tomato filling on there, and sprinkle with cheese, plenty of salsa, and fresh cilantro. The only thing left for me, is to make a mess while eating this!

Tamale

I should make this some time

Ancient Mexican dish, with evidence of it dating back to 5000 BC - 7000 BC, as army food for the warring tribes of the Aztec, Maya, and Incan cultures.

See Wikipedia and an archived piece by Margaret Parker.

Max Crone, CC BY 4.0