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Join me in the Quest for the Mexican Salad Dressing!
March 26, 2009 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Help me recreate an awesome Mexican salad dressing!

So I just had one of those pre-packaged salad kits, and it came with an awesome dressing. It was a Mexican chicken salad, and the dressing was a tangy, sort-of tomato-ey sort-of corn-y delight with quite a bit of a bite (but no apparent capsaicin heat). I think it or something similar would work brilliantly as a home-made dressing or cold sauce. The ingredients as listed on the packaging:

Water
Soya oil
Tomato purée
Vinegar
Sugar
Dextrose
Herbs and spices
Onion
Modified corn starch
Salt

I'll spare you the food acids and other additives, but suffice to say that, big surprise, MSG was in there (but none of its cousins in the E620-E630 range).

I believe the tomato purée refers to the concentrated kind; it definitely tasted like it (although Dutch tomatoes I feel are generally quite watery so I'm somewhat easily impressed with the concentrated and processed stuff). In fact, the overall taste held the middle between concentrated tomatoes and something corn-like, strongly reminiscent of tortilla chips (the non-cheese kind). Add a faint vinegary tang, and you're pretty much there.

It had about the consistency of common chili sauce (but as I said, no heat). It was very different from any salsa I've eaten, and completely smooth; without any onion or tomato chunks like in salsa or adobo.

Has anyone ever made anything like this? Any pointers? Thanks in advance, guys!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
My mother has a notebook with recipes for like 200 Mexican salsas. Your ingredients are in about half of them. Can you show some pictures?
posted by dirty lies at 1:51 PM on March 26, 2009


This is kind of gross. But, on taco salad, the quick fix is about 2/3 chili sauce (the heinz kind) and 1/3 Thousand Island dressing. W'shire sauce (about 1tsp per 1.5 cups of dressing). Add tabasco or Frank's Red Hot to taste. I add very finely minced onion or onion powder as well. Again to taste. Stir very well if you add it though. I live in a house of picky eaters so this is what I usually leave it at. On my own though, I aadd a tablespoon of water and a half tablespoon of masa harina (the precooked cornflour that you would make tortillas out of- NOT cornmeal or corn flour). That's it :)
posted by variella at 2:03 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know it sounds a bit generic. The main difference from salsa was the strong corn flavour. I thought maybe it is actually a common variant that I just never heard of? FWIW, it looked just like chili sauce, except maybe a little thicker and redder, like a tiny amount of ketchup was added.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:39 PM on March 26, 2009


Thanks variella, masa harina sounds interesting.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:43 PM on March 26, 2009


Cumin or garlic (or the combination) may explain the spicy bite. Tang is probably mostly vinegar, but some [possibly powdered] lime juice may be involved. Look for tomato paste in a tube; it's often better-tasting and easier to deal with.
posted by aydeejones at 2:47 PM on March 26, 2009


Except for the corn component, it sounds like you're describing good old Western Dressing. I've often had it served over taco salad.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:18 PM on March 26, 2009


Pre-packaged salad dressing has a lot of sat, as well as at least some sugar. Corn oil would help the corn flavor.
posted by theora55 at 4:23 PM on March 26, 2009


Salt, too...
posted by theora55 at 6:10 PM on March 26, 2009


Besides masa harina, there are a couple of other ways you could duplicate the corn chip taste. I've seen soup recipes that call for powdering a corn tortilla in a dry blender to thicken the soup, and I've done the same thing by pureeing hominy from a can in a blender. Both will give that tangy corn-chip flavor that you can't get from sweet corn. (Here's the corn entry from Cook's Thesaurus.)
posted by zinfandel at 7:08 PM on March 26, 2009


Thanks for the answers, guys.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2009


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