Apparently Friday nights are taco nights in Sweden. There’s some understanding (thanks to a clearly ridiculously successful marketing campaign) that Friday nights are for cosy nights in with tacos (or pizza) and junk food; there’s even a word for it – Fredagsmys (cosy Friday). Swedish tacos are … very different from Mexican tacos and perhaps are more similar to those eaten of the Old El Paso kit variety here in the UK. Actually there are some clear differences from these as well as this hilarious Reddit post illustrates.

Anyway, I thought of this tradition as I munched away on some excellent Mexican food in Sweden. We’ll rewind to half an hour prior to proper tacos – after a few days of butter and cream, I couldn’t face another very rich cream-laden Swedish meal. I contemplated the highly rated vegan Chinese place near my Airbnb flat but when I saw the reviews for La Neta, a Mexican joint just a little further walk away, tacos tacos tacos consumed my mind.

The restaurant on Barnhusgatan is tiny – it’s a basement joint with a large kitchen (I believe they make their tortillas on site) and shared dining tables and a counter by the window. Queue at the till, place your order, find a seat, and pick up your order when your buzzer goes.

I had one each of the tacos on offer that day: Tacos de Pastor (marinated pork with pineapple), Suadero (a slow cooked beef), Bistec (grilled steak). They were 22 kr each and were served on homemade corn tortillas.

Tacos

Of course, tacos are not complete without a salsa bar – and I’m glad to report that La Neta had a little one! I added the chopped onions and coriander and helped myself to the green and red salsas on offer. From what I can see on Instagram, their salsas are made fresh each day. They were perfect – the tacos and the salsas. The meats were all tender and flavourful and tacos just looked right. An aside: I read recently that La Neta was opened by two natives of Monterey, California, both of whom missed the Mexican food they could get easily back home – these were legit tacos.

Tacos and Salsas

There were quesadillas too.

Quesadillas

had a Rajas (poblano chili, courgette, corn, onion and philadelphia – 28 kr) …

Rajas

… and a Choripapa (potato, chili, onion and chorizo – 28 kr). Both were excellent and of note was the Mexican chorizo which was totally on point.

Choripapa

My Mexican dinner hit the spot – and fret not, I went straight back to trying more Swedish foods after my palate was refreshed here. There are freshly made tortilla chips and larger tacos in flour tortillas too. And you can even buy their freshly made corn tortillas by the kilo. I love this place!

La Neta
Barnhusgatan 2
111 23, Stockholm

There’s a second branch on Södermalm.

I was going to have tacos. Of course, a lack of good corn tortillas in this country was a bit of a limiting factor but I was determined to try making my own at home and I pictured myself wrapping them around tender pork, lots of delicious salsa and definitely some chopped fresh coriander. Oh, just the thought of them has me thinking of making them again this weekend.

However, the process didn’t go entirely smoothly at first. I made the amateur mistake of confusing masa harina and masa arepa. Both are corn meals made of precooked corn but only masa harina is made of corn that’s undergone nixtamalization (it’s cooked in an alkaline solution) and is the correct one for making corn tortillas. Just to confuse things, the side of the package of masa arepa that I purchased first (PAN brand) states that it can be used for tortillas too. I bought my masa harina from the Cool Chile Co. (Maseca is also a famous brand).

Taco Party

On our first go at making corn tortillas, we pressed them using a heavy pot…quite painfully and tediously. The next day, I went straight out and bought a proper cast iron tortilla press (again from the Cool Chile Co.). Oh, how it makes life easier! Fresh corn tortillas are pressed so quickly and without any effort whatsoever! I can’t believe I’d been buying corn tortillas (sometimes taking up precious space in my suitcase when I was travelling back from the other side of the Atlantic) when they’re so easy to make at home!

Pressed in a Proper Tortilla Press

Corn Tortillas

Take 2 cups of masa harina and mix with a little less than 1.5 cups of warm water. Mix together to a dough – it shouldn’t crumble (too dry – add water) or stick to your hands (too wet – add masa harina). I read somewhere online that it should have the texture of play dough and that’s truly how it felt. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a cast iron or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Take a plastic freezer bag and cut two circles of plastic out of it – they should be big enough to line each side of your tortilla press. Take a small golf ball sized nugget of masa dough and roll it into a ball. Place in between the plastic circles and flatten in the tortilla press (I like mine quite thin – it’ll be about the size of the palm of your hand, I think). Peel off the tortilla and slap into the hot pan. Cook for about 30 seconds on the first side, flip and cook for a minute on the other side, flip again and cook for another 30 seconds. On the final side, the tortilla should start puffing up – pressing down on the tortilla can encourage it. Take out of the pan and cover with a clean dish towel. Repeat with all the masa.

You can eat tortillas with any meal, of course, but it’s most fun to make tacos at home. I slow cooked a lot of pork shoulder the first time I made tortillas, shredded the results and used that as a very simple filling for tacos.

Slow Cooked Pork for Tacos

1.5 kg pork shoulder, cut into chunks
juice from a large orange
2 bay leaves
1 chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together in a slow cooker and set on high for 4 hours (mine only is set to high – it’s a rice cooker – though I reckon perhaps low on a regular slow cooker for 8 hours is also ok). Take out the meat and shred with two forks or your hands. A lot of liquid would have come out of the meat – I used some of it to moisten the shredded pork. Serve with corn tortillas.

The pork is a bit plain on its own. Better is topping your tacos with some pico de gallo. Or if you’re pressed for time/ingredients, just chopped onions pickled lightly in lime juice.

Pico de Gallo

1/2 a small onion, chopped
1-2 medium sized tomatoes, seeded and chopped
a very small handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely
juice of half a lime
salt

Mix all the ingredients together and then chill until ready to serve (give it an hour, I reckon, for the flavours to meld).

Now you’re almost ready for tacos!

Set out some chopped fresh coriander, a salsa (I’m working on recipes but this was just a good canned salsa verde), perhaps some sliced avocado or guacamole, sliced radishes and lime wedges and you’ve got a taco party! Well, it was just for two in our case but yeah, a party!

More Tacos

The best part is that you’ll have plenty of pork leftover. I suggest frying up some of it in its own lard (the edges go all crispy…mmmmmm) and having more tacos! There will definitely be more taco adventures in my future.

Does it feel like Christmas has suddenly appeared out of nowhere?! Christmas has snuck up on me and there’s now a little over a week left and a work Christmas party to attend and lots of work still to do and a few posts still kicking around in my drafts folder. I wonder how many I can get through before the new year…

One working day a few weeks’ back, we found ourselves on the other side of town for lunchtime since we had a meeting in the morning over there. As it’d been a while since we had Mexican food, we stopped into El Burrito for lunch and I ordered the tacos al pastor (£4.50):

Tacos Al Pastor

There are three tacos to an order. They were so messy to eat but terribly delicious and just what I was craving. Slices of grilled, marinated pork sat on small flour tortillas (I only wish they could’ve been corn) and were topped with fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, and pickled jalapenos. Other options include more marinated pork, chicken, beef, and cheese and roasted chili peppers.

Seating in the little restaurant can be a little tight during peak hours but many people do have their lunches for takeaway. We just managed to squeeze in at the bar when two seats were vacated just as we were looking around. Busy or not, I’ll definitely be back to try their burritos and taquitos!

El Burrito
5 Charlotte Place
London W1T 1SF