A No Tajín Home: Seasoned Chile Flake

I’ll put chile powder on almost anything, but not just any chile powder. Store bought Tajín? Never. Nothing technically wrong with it, but also not the greatest.

This recipe is based on a seasoned chile flake I bought at a spice shop some time ago in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora. The puya chile used in the recipe also came from there. I couldn’t say the name of the shop or the street its on, but I could tell you how to get there:

Get lunch at the seafood place, across the street from Father Eusebio Kino’s bones. Get a cahuamanta and a gigantic michelada. Maybe two micheladas. Devour everything. Get a raspado de tamarindo con leche and start walking away from the mission. Be too busy eating said raspado to pay attention to where you are going. Almost fall of sidewalk due once again to said raspado. Walk past plastic bins full of cinnamon, oregano and chiles and keep walking. Wait…. oooh! Take three steps back and you’re there.

I can’t remember having ever seen puya chile at any spice shop in the US, nor at any of the fantastic Mexican groceries in the Phoenix area. It works well for a seasoned chile flake due to its balance between flavor, fragrance and spice. You can smell this chile long before you taste it. The heat burns through quickly and not too hotly, complimenting whatever it is paired with, rather than overpowering it.

If puya chiles cannot be found, a mixture of chile de árbol and ancho should do the trick.

Seasoned Chile Flake

  • 1 ounce puya chiles (about 18 or so)
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Remove the stems from the chiles as well as most of the seeds. Break up the chiles into smaller pieces, and working in batches, use a spice grinder or a blender, to grind the chiles into flakes.

Zest the orange, avoiding any white pitch. Blend the chile flake, orange zest and salt well. Allow to dry for 1 day before using.

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