I’ve always been a huge fan of mexican, latin american, tex mex, cali-mex, and mexican inspired foods which i inherited from my mom. It doesn’t hurt that i also happen to love beans, corn (fresh, dried, nixtamilised, whatever form), cumin, chile peppers….pretty much everything that is often used in these cuisines. Sadly, in the states, these cuisines and flavors are often reduced to just a shadow of their original selves, though that’s been changing over the last decade or so, there is still an unfortunate lean toward the meat and cheese heavy side and an obvious lack of fresh ingredients and a reduced spectrum of flavour. This blend is a good standalone seasoning for adding an instant mexican/tex mex flavor to just about anything, however, it also makes an excellent base flavor for recipes with other seasonings added (which is typically how i use it). It also makes an excellent “taco seasoning” replacement, and i’ve included a recipe on how to use it as such in this post as well.
26g | 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp whole cumin
3g | 1 ½ tsp whole coriander
3g | ¾ tsp whole black peppercorns
1.5g | 3 whole tejpat leaves, crumbled
1.5g | 6 whole turkish bay leaves, crumbled
3g | 2 tsp thyme
3g | 2 ¼ tsp mexican oregano
7g | 1 ¾ tsp chipotle powder**
12g | 1 Tbsp smoked paprika (sweet, not hot)**
14g | 4 ½ tsp onion powder
8g | 2 tsp ancho chile powder
8g | 1 ¾ tsp garlic powder
340g | 12 oz "meat" of choice (if using TVP, please see comment in notes)*
12g | 2 Tbsp red mex seasoning
14g/15ml | 1 Tbsp oil
80g | 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
235g/ml | 1 cup broth or water salt to taste (this amount will vary wildly based on how salty your meat and broth are)
Toast cumin and coriander** and allow to cool
Blend seeds, peppercorns, tejpat, and turkish bay leaves to a powder
Blend in thyme and oregano
Blend in powders to combine
Store tightly sealed for up to 6 months, or store in the freezer for up to a year
Saute onions in oil over medium-high until translucent and brown on the edges
Add "meat" of choice and seasoning, stirring to coat
Add broth and reduce heat to medium
Continue cooking until all the broth (or water) has evaporated
*you have to rehydrate tvp first before using, pour 270g (a little over a cup) of hot broth/water over 70g (about 3/4 cup) of dry tvp crumbles. Allow it to hydrate for 5-10 minutes and drain excess liquid (you can save the liquid drained off to use in the recipe.) **to make seasoning raw, sub unsmoked (or cold smoked) chiles and skip toasting the spices
There isn’t anything TOO surprising here, it should be a lot of familiar players, earthy woodsy cumin, citrusy coriander seed, herbaceous thyme and mexican oregano, onion powder for sweetness, garlic for richness, woodsy spicy black pepper, turkish bay leaves for tea like notes and to meld the flavors, an assortment of chile powders to provide heat, fruitiness, and richness…. Originally i used cinnamon and allspice in this recipe, but i’ve since switched to using tejpat leaves here instead. Why? I felt the cinnamon was too drying, and the allspice lent a little too much american “chili powder” flavour to the blend. Tejpat leaves provide a similar flavour, but more subtle and rounded, and brings in some much needed floral and sweet notes that really transform this blend into something extra special. If you don’t have them and don’t want to go looking for them, you can sub about a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of canella (mexican cinnamon) and a couple allspice berries. It will still be an excellent blend, but i really suggest seeking out the tejpat. (btw i go into more florid detail on tejpat leaves here) Also, don’t be afraid to change up the chiles in this, i really like the added smokiness from the chipotle and smoked paprika, and the sweet fruitiness of the ancho….however, you can sub equal amount of whatever chiles you prefer. If you want it to be more mild, replace the chipotle and/or ancho with noras, more paprika, or new mexican chiles. Choice is all yours.
Don’t skip toasting the cumin and coriander, it is integral to the final flavour of the blend, bringing in more toasty notes to the party and really helps to elevate the mix as a whole.
Use this for just about anything you’d like, taco seasoning, fajitas, seasoning beans or rice, popcorn, use it to punch up your salsas….as i said before, it makes an excellent stand alone seasoning AND a base to start from for building more flavor with other additions, don’t be afraid to travel off the path with this one and use it wherever you see fit. Also, don’t be afraid to make a double (or triple) batch, it will keep for at least 3 months tightly sealed, or you can store some extra backup in the freezer for about 6 months, you’ll probably need it!