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From England To Mexico City And Back Again: Introducing Authentic Mexican Food To The UK

05/12/2016 13:42 GMT | Updated 05/12/2016 13:42 GMT

Mexico is foodie heaven: an endless array of exotic colours, fresh flavours and memorable smells that can be found down every street; not - as the UK's many fast-food chains would have us believe - carb heavy, cheese laden burritos.

For this reason, I led a team of foodies on a trip to Mexico City in search of inspiration for the next generation of Mexican cuisine. I wanted to tap in to 'new Mexican' - a variation of Mexican food, which is lighter, healthier and uses lots of fresh ingredients to create tasty twists on traditional Mexican dishes.

Mexican chefs have been experimenting with specific chillies including jalapeño, birdseye, chipotle and green to achieve the unique flavours you get from New Mexican cuisine. Although it's a common perception that chillies are just used for heat, Mexican cooking afficianados actually use chillies to add distinctive flavours to each dish. For example, jalapeño chillies are actually mild to medium heat, but contain lots of flavour that can be used within a jalapeño sauce to accompany traditional Mexican dishes.

Real authentic Mexican food is much fresher and healthier than we are used to in the UK and involves a hell of a lot of tacos: piled high with thin, flash-fried strips of meat, and lots of fresh chilli spiked salsa. There wasn't a burrito in site, and no one would ever consider putting rice on a taco.

The Mexico City food scene, or CDMX as they now call the city, is littered with modern restaurants such as the acclaimed Pujol by Enrique Olvera - a restaurant in the city's posh Polanco neighbourhood, which ranks no 25 in the world's top 50 eateries. At the other end of the scale are the thousands of market stalls and street stands serving some of the best delicious street food such as Tacos, Tortas, Flautas, Empanadas, seafood, Tamales, Chicharrones, Breads, Patisserie and even candy.

In amongst all the tacos and healthy herby dishes, something unusual caught my eye: a Cornish pasty. How odd. What was a Cornish pasty doing in Mexico City of all places?

Our guide Paco told us that the pasties of Hidalgo, a state of Mexico City, are famous and considered a local delicacy. Whoever thought it: the Cornish pasty is now what Mexicans call the empanada or paste, and was first brought to Mexico in the 19th Century by Corish tin miners.

"Mexicans are always eating, they're always hungry, so street food is the quickest way to fill up often," our guide tells us on our first day. It's hard not to see why. Authentic Mexican is so much fresher and lighter than in the UK, with far more delicate and diverse flavours, and won't leave you feeling heavy and tired.

Seeing how Mexicans had given a Cornish Pasty their own traditional twist gave me the idea to experiment with British-Mexican fusion food. For example, Barbacoa lamb Sunday dinner with a Mexican twist: served with slow-cooked shoulder with tortillas, salsas, avocado and lots of lime wedges for squeezing over, or a Flat Yorkshire Pudding for a Yorkshire twist!

We discovered there's a skill to eating a taco, and a wrong way up to hold your tortilla. A Tortillia has a thin side and a thick side. Thin-side-up means your fillings will soak into the corn so you get a great flavour, without it falling apart in your hands. They are also served with meat and tortilla straight up with custom toppings, so you can pick you own salsas and, radish, cucumber, lime - a myriad of variety that we had not seen in the UK.

After being treated to all the sauces and toppings in the street market, we stopped off at a local supermarket where we found a huge selection of bottled salsas, dressings and sauces. This is certainly something we don't have in the UK, and was the main inspiration for Asda's new authentic Mexican sauces range. The range includes Guajillo & Chipotle sauce, Jalapeño sauce, Yucatan marinade, Chipotle sauce, Chimichurri marinade and a Holy Trinity sauce.

So what can you expect from Asda in the next few months? Authentic Mexican not tex mex, smaller taco-sized tortillas, a larger variety of salsa, other carriers such as tortas, sopes and flautas, Mexican seafood, Concha bread, all of which will form a fresher and healthier Mexican food range.

By Mark Richmond, Head Innovation Development Chef from Asda