Say tacos and I’ll think Norway. Norwegians love to eat tacos and all supermarkets in Norway are equipped with a large selection of items for the perfect tacos night: hard and soft tortillas (the basic supply a decent supermarket carries counts at least wheat, corn, and possibly also a whole grain version), guacamole dips, salsa in all shades of spicy, nachos (round and triangular; salty, spicy and cheesy to name the basics) and various powdered spices, herbs and other condiments. I was surprised the first time I have been offered tacos for dinner in a Norwegian house, but after that first time I came to notice the taco section in supermarkets and I understood that there must have been something more than just my hosts being fancy.
A Norwegian friend later explained to me that having a tacos night is actually a pretty strong tradition in Norway, and the next time I visited treated me to one. I took such a liking to this tradition that I made the tacos night habit my own, and when my boyfriend moved in with me I passed this tradition on to him. Just like a Norwegian family, we love our tacos nights once in a while, and thank goodness Swedish supermarkets are as well supplied as those in Norway. The same couldn’t be said of Polish supermarkets, so to honour our acquired Norwegian custom while living in Poland we had to hit a special culinary shop that carried various import or ethnic foods.
As the years passed, I have proudly progressed in my tacos making skills. The first thing I ditched was jarred guacamole dip, substituted with a much healthier fresh home-made avocado mash (here is my guacamole recipe). I have also stopped buying pre-made salsa and spicy sauces. From one of my tacos nights with Norwegian friends, I learned that the spicy tomato sauce can be cooked together with the meat, to give it more taste. But why buy a salsa filled with chemicals if I can season my meat with fresh tomatoes and my own spices? If you need inspiration for your next taco meat, here’s my final version, perfectioned tacos night after tacos night.
- 400 g ground meat (half pork and half beef, or all beef)
- 1 onion
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 tsp chipotle
- 1 tsp pimentón dulce
- 1/2 tsp crushed herbs of choice
- salt to taste
I usually start by braising the onion, finely diced, with a little olive oil. Then I add the meat, which will release its own grease as it cooks (especially if there is some pork in it). Only when the meat looks all cooked (no uncooked parts left), I add the spices and salt. I really like the smoky taste of pimentón dulce and chipotle in meat. Furthermore, I always like to add some dried herbs, like herbes de Provence or mountain herbs. When the liquid from the meat has almost evaporated, I add the fresh tomato, which I have previously diced. I keep it on medium heat until the water from the tomato has evaporated and its flesh appears cooked.
Our typical tacos nights feature this meat, corn, salad (lettuce or rocket), grated cheese, guacamole and sour cream. I guess that my next goal is to start making tortillas from scratch. When that day comes, I might as well move out of Sweden, because I will no longer need supermarkets specialised in tacos stuff. Or maybe I should just start selling my tacos to the Swedes.