Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tajin: This is Not a Candy

Every once in awhile a product that's been around for who knows how long basically smacks me upside the head to pay attention to it.

Most recently, that product is Tajin "classico seasoning." I first noticed it a summer or two ago at the Hillcrest Farmers Market. Once tomatoes are in season, Valdivia Farms, which sells marvelous heirloom tomatoes, chops a bunch up, mixes the pieces with olive oil and a little seasoning and puts the mixture on platters with toothpicks to sample. Customers gobble them up and wonder why they taste so delicious. Well, sure, the tomatoes are great but they're also using the Tajin -- and they sell 5 oz. plastic shaker bottles of it along with the tomatoes. Did I buy one? No, because I suspected their  price was quite a bit more than I'd have to pay at the market. Sure enough, a visit to Northgate Gonzalez turned up the Tajin for less than two bucks. I'm in bliss.

So, what is Tajin seasoning? Very simple. A powder blend of chiles, salt, and dehydrated lime juice. It's the lime juice you really taste when it hits your tongue. It's all about the salty tang. And, as they carefully print on the cap, this is not a candy.

Tajin seasoning can be used for all sorts of dishes. Here's a little salad of chopped tomatoes and garlic scapes. Like Valdivia Farms, I tossed them with olive oil and Tajin. It was delicious on a slice of sour dough bread and I used the bread, of course, to sop up the Tajin-flavored tomato juices.


I've also used it as part of a marinade for roasting and grilling chicken. At the recent Collaboration Kitchen at Catalina Offshore Products, chef Melissa Mayer offered a delicious recipe of Hamachi Crudo with Watermelon Carpaccio, Tangerine, and Hazelnut Oil Emulsion with Cilantro Flowers. Tucked into the recipe to season the yellowtail was about a teaspoon of Tajin.

And, at the 4th of July party I attended, chef Andrew Spurgin whipped up the most delicious Michelada beer cocktail. The mixture of Tecate beer, lime juice, and clamato juice was perfection, but what sent it truly over the top was the rimming along the top of the cup with Tajin seasoning.

Try it out and let me know what you do with it.

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