Today marks Cinco de Mayo, a day that is notoriously well celebrated amid glorious foods and great lashings of Tequila. We thought we’d mark the occasion by paying special homage to our favourite Mexican food joint, K Chido.
Despite the current love drive Mexican food is enjoying, for Theresa and Gus it was never a passing fad. Back in 1997 they started the first Mexican food stall in Dublin, Mero Mero Mexico, well before our non-distinguishing palettes had become familiar with ceviche and pulled pork. After years of running stalls across the country (People’s Park and Temple Bar Market among others) and ranking up a collection of accolades, that includes a Bridgestone Award, the couple hit upon their most successful and stationary creation to date – K Chido. A little turquoise and pink taco truck snuck into a lock-up at the side of the fruit market and opposite the Four Courts, K Chido has managed to secure two of the most sought after factors in the food industry – secrecy and loyalty.
Lunchtime in the Capel Streel and Four Courts area sees an eclectic mix of clientele that ranges from barristers and Gardai, to students, all filing into the lock-up with almost giddy anticipation. The lock-up itself is easily missed, and yet on closer inspection it begins to resemble a child’s pop-up restaurant – cute to the max.
Theresa and Gus’s success with K Chido can be traced back to their partnering with Mr Crepes in the City, Oisin Healy, who has been a fan of food trucks since starting out in business in 2008 – “When Tine and I were teenagers we both worked at her mother’s cheese stall and my father’s vegetable stall respectively. We both loved the idea of traveling to markets and festivals and saved up to buy our first food truck.” Oisin could see the potential of K Chido what with the current obsession with Mexican food – the layout and aesthetic of K Chido are a credit to him, whilst the magic of the spot and the unparalleled food he puts down to Gus and Theresa’s talents: “ They both obsess about the authenticity of the food being served. Gus misses his hometown cooking and wanted to bring a little of its magic to Dublin.” The little taco truck will continue to do lunches and breakfasts whilst also beginning to do an occasional evening and cooking classes. They will also be part of this year’s Beatyard festival, so our advice is get there before this place goes from best-kept secret to full blown triumph.
Here’s a little bit of that magic for you to try at home – one of Theresa’s recipes:
Pork IN CHIPOTLE AND CITRUS MARINADE – serves 6
1.5 kg free range pork shoulder
( your butcher will remove the skin & keep some of the fat on as it adds flavour)
One fresh orange – all the zest grated from the skin + all the juice
1 cup unrefined sunflour oil or rapeseed oil, more if there is no fat on your meat.
2 fresh limes – zest and juice
100ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
½ jar MERO MERO MEXICO CHIPOTLE EN ADOBO
Pinch or 1 tsp cayenne (if you know everyone likes it super hot)
2 tsps salt
½ tsp black pepper
Whiz this all up in the blender to make a creamy, emulsified marinade which will coat the meat and impart a spicy, citrusy and deeply Smokey flavor.
Cut the pork into 2cm chunks. Put the meat into a glass or creamic bowl and pour over the marinade. Mix the marinade in well over each piece of meat, cover tightly and refrigerate, leave to marinate overnight or at least for a couple of hours.
Cook the pork in a parchment paper lined roasting tin in the oven covered and cover with parchment and then foil. (If you can get banana leaves then use them to wrap the meat and seal out over the top – this will definitely improve the flavor of your final dish.) Slow cook in the oven at 115C for at least 4 hours, or until you can easily pinch off a piece of meat and it is soft and tender.
When cooked leave it to cool in the oven 30 minutes – remove to the counter top and leave to cool ‘covered’ for 30 minutes more. Then remove the cover and leave to cool until you can shred the meat by hand – use gloves. Or use two forks to pull the pork apart. Pile it all into a bowl with some of the remaining juices to keep it moist. Reserve the rest of the juice in a jar in the fridge for later.
MAKING UP YOUR TACOS
1 packet 15cms corn tortillas – toasted on the grill and kept warm in a tea towel.
Limes – ¼ ‘s
Red onions sliced
Habaneros con Mango Or Chipotles en Adobo
Firstly prepare the garnish. Some refried beans, pinto or black turtle beans are both good. Shredded lettuce, lime sprinkled onion slices, chopped coriander, fresh limes in quarters and some ripe avocado slices.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the meat in small batches until it is crispy in parts and hot all the way through, add some of the juices from the reserved jar if necessary to keep the meat from drying out during frying.
Make two tacos per person to start. Fold over the tortillas in your hand and fill with a pinch of lettuce and pile on the pulled pork meat. Place on a warmed plate and garnish with the onion, avocado, Chipotle en Adobo sauce, a small amount of each which will all go on top of each taco. Then serve with the beans on the side
To top is all off the hot sauce – blend the remaining ½ jar of Chipotles en Adobo with a little water to make a dynamite thin and smoky salsa to really take your tacos to another level. Alternatively for something hotter use a couple of tablespoons of Gustavo’s Habanero con Mango pickle to add not only some serious heat but lovely earthy flavour to the final dish.
MERO MERO MEXICO sell corn tortillas at Temple Bar Market each Saturday and Masa Harina if you want to go the whole hog and use handmade corn tortillas. Theresa will be hosting Free cooking demonstrations in K CHIDO MEXICO.
For more info on K Chido, on cooking courses and on the Beatyard Festival see here.
Roisin Agnew @Roxeenna
Shot on location at K Chido, 13 Chancery Lane, Dublin 7 / @kchidomexico
Styling by Ciara O’Halloran, Style Serendipity
Photography by Nathalie Marquez Courtney