I have mentioned before that I am always a little disappointed with Mexican food in Berlin. While good places such as Santa Cantina do open up it is also often hard for their business to thrive. So often I receive the news that a good quality restaurant has had to close down and yet when I walk down the street I can’t move for all the cheap ‘Mexican’ restaurants serving baked enchiladas smothered in sour cream and mozzarella. Or Fajitas that are bland and lacking in all things spice, besides this is not even real Mexican food. It is just Tex-Mex and Tex-Mex that has gone very bad! I think the issue here is that Berlin is still a cheap city and a city that eat’s out a lot. Unlike places such as London and Paris where eating out is still more of a Friday night treat or a special occassion, Berlin is where a lot of people eat out most nights. Because you can. That is if you are happy eating a 3eur kebab or a stale, dry pizza with a side of chips. Or even a very bland but super creamy generic Asian curry. And this makes me sad because Berlin’s love for convenience takes over any chance of building a food scene that thrives on good quality ingredients.
It is why I am always excited when new Mexican restaurants open up that are serving something slightly more authentic. I still can’t help to wonder how long they will be around for but I make sure to enjoy it while they are! Last week I was at La Lucha and the food there is delicious! They call themselves Modern Mexican and steer you away from ordering the Beef Brisket Burrito because as they say, it isn’t really authentic is it? It is all about small plates which immediately flagged my attention. Small plates don’t work in Berlin. Small plates mean there will be many couples ordering one small plate each with a glass of tap water wondering why they are still starving and disappointed at the end of it (despite the bill only being 15eur..). Small plates are what makes good restaurants like La Lucha often not survive.
Yet this style of eating is one of my favourite ways to go out. I love getting a group of friends together, putting everything in the middle of the table and enjoying an array of different ingredients. And that is certainly what we did last week. The beef tongue in an almond mole Sauce was so tender. The Fritos Pescados tacos had the most delicious lime and ginger aioli and the fish was perfectly crispy. The duck confit tacos were incredibly moreish, the fired chrysanthemums with a tomato and cinnamon Salsa were beautiful and the BBQ wild oysters with tamarind chile arbol … perfect! And yes we did order the beef brisket burrito with bone marrow and pineapple pickled onions because it just sounded delicious!
I love Mexican food and I like the heatness from it and I always make sure to order the main ingredients from Chili & Paprika, a little Mexican store that serves fresh corn tacos, tomatillos, chipotles and plenty of hot sauces! These Prawn Tostados are spiced with some habanero chilli that is incredibly hot but the tomatillo and avocado salsa is so fresh that is pairs nicely. I am of the opinion that if you are going to do a Mexican night then please do not hold off on the chilli which is why I love the Chipotle cream. It is simply made with some tinned chipotle’s mixed in with plain sour cream and a little lime juice. It only has a slight heat to it making it the perfect sauce to go with those spicy habanero prawns!
- For the tostados:
- Fresh corn tacos (around 6 in total for 3 people)
- 70g large prawns (de-frosted if cooking from frozen)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
- Few fresh coriander leaves
- 1 tspn habanero chilli sauce
- Juice of half a lime
- Salt/ pepper
- Sunflower oil
- For the tomatillo salsa:
- 1 tin tomatillos
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
- 1 avocado (peeled, stoned removed and finely chopped)
- Juice of 1 lime
- Small handful of fresh coriander
- For the chipotle cream:
- 1 tin chipotle's
- 1 small tub plain sour cream
- Juice of half a lemon
- For the tomatillo salsa: add everything to a blender and mix. Season with salt and pepper and place in the fridge until needed.
- For the chipotle cream: add everything to a blender and mix. Place in the fridge until needed.
- For the tostada's: Add a dash of sunflower oil to a large frying pan. Once hot add the garlic and prawns. Pour in a dash of the habanero sauce and then the lime juice. The prawns will only need around 1 min to cook. Take the prawns of the heat and garnish with some fresh coriander. Season with a little salt and pepper. Leave to one side to slightly cool.
- Heat the corn tacos in the microwave for just 2 mins. They will be nice and crispy. Plate them up and top them with the prawns. Serve with the tomatillo salsa and chipotle cream on the side.