I must admit that I'm not exactly at the forefront of culinary trends these days, but it hasn't escaped my notice that tacos are a big thing right now. In our household we don't really do tacos but fajitas have long been one of our favourites. And that got me thinking - exactly what is the difference between a taco and a fajita?
I did a little research (where would we be without Google?) and have discovered that the term fajitas (which is Spanish and translates as 'little belts') actually refers to the meat (traditionally marinated, griddled skirt steak cut into strips) rather than the dish itself. A taco on the other hand is more a method of presentation where a filling - which can be anything really - is placed on a tortilla and served either open-faced or folded. Apparently, those hard taco shells you can buy in the supermarket are not traditional in Mexico, where corn or flour tortillas are used in tacos (although the tortilla may be fried to make it crispy). The really interesting thing about all of this is that it means that a fajita can be a taco but a taco can't be a fajita - so it turns out that I've been making tacos all along!
You might not think of spicy food as family food, but actually my 5-year-old will happily eat fajitas. She doesn't like peppers or onions, so she'll have her chicken cooked in a separate pan with some sweetcorn. She enjoys making up her own fajita (or should I say taco?), adding the grated cheese and dollops of yogurt, and rolling it up. I'm still working on the 2-year-old - she likes the tortilla, sweetcorn, cheese and yogurt so far. I think it's definitely worth persevering as I've found that other foods have been accepted eventually if I just offer them enough times.
Chicken FajitasMakes 4 fajitas (enough for 2 adults as a main meal)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
300g chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tbsp fajita spice (follow link for my Home-made Fajita Spice Mix)
½ green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
juice of ½ lime
4 flour tortillas
1 small or ½ large avocado, peeled, diced and tossed in the juice of ½ lime
55g Cheddar cheese, grated
125-g pot full-fat natural yogurt or soured cream
Heat the oil over a high heat in a large saucepan. Add the chicken strips and fry, stirring frequently, for 5-8 minutes, or until the chicken is sealed. Add 1 tablespoon of the fajita spice, stir to coat the chicken in the spice and cook for a further minute.
Add the peppers, onion and the remaining fajita spice and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. Pour in the lime juice and continue to cook, stirring frequently, over a high heat for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and the chicken is cooked all the way through.
Divide the chicken mixture between the tortillas. Scatter over the avocado and grated cheese and top with dollops of yogurt. Fold in the two opposite ends of each tortilla, then roll up to fully enclose the filling. Cut in half and serve.
- For beef fajitas, use strips of rump steak instead of the chicken.