Sunday, 3 July 2011


Fajitas are a great weekend dinner, something I always look forward to and enjoy eating immensely. I love eating with my hands, it's simply a lot more fun than using cutlery.

Up until a few years ago, I really believed I could only make fajitas using those pre-made packs from the supermarket. In fact, I'm frequently surprised at how easily I've been brainwashed into believing I need to buy pre-made products, to create what is usually a pretty simple meal to prepare from scratch.

I used to think that making items which are commonly sold pre-made wasn't possible without an endless supply of time, until I tried it. So that's all I'm saying, give it a go; it's not as hard as the manufacturing companies would have you believe and it always tastes better. It's often cheaper too, and it means you can really control where your ingredients come from. The primary concern of food manufacturers is profit margin, not the ethical or long-term health implications of the raw ingredients they use.

First, put the tortilla dough together, I originally got a recipe for these from Daniel Steven's "Bread" book, but have adjusted it as I prefer the texture and taste of most bread products with some wholemeal flour, plus I find the dough easier to roll out with a little strong bread flour added to the mix.

The dough is just 250g flour, 5g salt and 150ml water, kneaded together for a few minutes and left to rest for half an hour. Seriously, that's all there is to it.
Just for an interesting aside, here are the ingredients in a well known brand of tortillas: Wheat flour, water, vegetable oil, humectant (422), salt, emulsifiers (471, 472[e], 481), raising agents (450, 500, 541), dextrose, preservatives (282, 202), colour (171), food acid (297), flour treatment agent (223), antioxidants (306, 304).

While the dough is resting, put together your fajita seasoning mix: a fresh chopped long, red chilli, a very finely chopped onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves or (at a push) half a tsp of garlic powder, half a vegetable stock cube, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp cumin, a big pinch of cayenne pepper, chopped coriander, 1 tsp each of salt and sugar, the juice of a lime, a shot of tequila.
Again, here is a list of the ingredients from a well known brand's seasoning sachet: Soy sauce powder, salt, bell pepper, sugar, herbs and spices, modified corn starch (1422), onion, garlic, food acid (330), oil, anticaking agent (551), vegetable gum (412), natural flavours, antioxidant (320).

Next step, cook your tortillas. Have a clean teatowel standing by and a clean, dry frying pan on the hob. Divide the dough into 8 peices and one by one, flatten, coat in flour and roll out really thinly with a rolling pin. Pop each one in the hot pan for half a minute each side and wrap in the teatowel while you do the next one. The whole process should take you about 10 minutes, but it might take longer the first time you do it, just while you get a feel for the process.

Reuse the same frying pan for the filling, add a bit of oil and fry the onions until almost cooked, then add your protein, the peppers and the seasoning mix. We tend to use quorn* in fajitas, because it's lighter than meat, in a meal that's otherwise quite heavy. For a vegan version, bulk out the filling with some aubergine and courgettes.

Salsa is just tomatoes, chilli, spring or purple onion, coriander, salt, olive oil and lime juice.
Guacamole is just an avocado, chilli, coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Sour cream is just wonderful.

* A note on quorn: although this product once had a bad reputation, due to its use of battery eggs, it has been made with free range eggs since 2004. It's currently believed that the environmental impact of quorn vs its meat equivalents comes out in quorn's favour. 
Here is interesting report analysing mycoprotein's (in particular the brand quorn's) alignment with food sustainability. Warning: it was written by an employee of Marlow Foods Ltd, the owners of the Quorn brand, however it is an interesting insight into how they plan to grow their business, including recommendations on how to further improve the sustainability, and lower the environmental impact, of their products. Vegans will be pleased to note the R&D recommendation to find an alternative for egg whites as a binding agent:

No comments:

Post a Comment