For many years Soho was the proud possessor of London’s only Mexican restaurant, La Cucaracha in Greek Street. The name means cockroach in Spanish, which is hardly the most prepossessing title for a restaurant. They served real Mexican food: dishes that have stuck in my mind include turkey in a chocolate molé sauce and pork baked in a banana leaf. The cooking wasn’t great and the place rather grim, so it was no surprise when it shut, coincidentally about the time that Tex-Mex restaurants started opening up all over town. I was the consultant chef at one of them and became interested in this curious but often delicious food. When I opened in Soho, some of the nicer dishes found their way on to my menu, most persistently this one. Whilst all the constituent parts are to be found in, for example, Break for the Border, Soho’s very own Tex-Mex joint, they have been made more authentically Mexican. Although this recipe or, more accurately, collection of recipes, seems absolutely interminable most of it will take longer to read than make. The exception is the tortillas, which need time for the dough to develop. Supermarkets now sell excellent tortillas. I once made nearly everything in this dish in ten minutes on a television show called Hot Chefs; the only concession to time was that the dough was already shaped and rolled.
Having made all the constituent recipes, cook the tortillas and serve all at once. Take a hot tortilla and spoon
Cold lobster or crabmeat can replace the prawns very effectively.
My children are very fond of chicken wings baked in barbecue sauce. Sliced up hot these stand in for the shellfish. I suppose by including hot meat the dish would have to be called fajitas, another stalwart of the Tex-Mex phenomenon. A little bowl of soured cream can be included, as can fresh coriander leaves.
© 1999 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.