Al pastor seasoning is a popular spice blend used in Mexican cuisine to flavor meat, particularly pork. The seasoning typically includes a variety of herbs and spices, including dried chiles, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, and paprika, and sometimes additional ingredients like pineapple or vinegar.
The exact recipe for al pastor seasoning can vary depending on the region and the individual cook, but it is often characterized by its smoky, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor profile. Traditionally, the pork is marinated in the seasoning blend for several hours before being cooked on a vertical spit, similar to how shawarma is prepared.
Al pastor seasoning has become increasingly popular in the United States, with many Mexican restaurants and street vendors offering al pastor tacos, burritos, and other dishes. It is also available in pre-made spice blends that can be used to season pork or other meats for home cooking.
Al Pastor Seasoning Spices
Al pastor seasoning is a blend of various spices and herbs that is used to season meat, particularly pork, in Mexican cuisine. Here are some of the most commonly used al pastor spices and their descriptions:
- Dried chiles: Typically, a combination of dried guajillo, ancho, and/or pasilla chiles are used. These chiles add a rich, smoky flavor and mild to medium heat to the seasoning blend.
- Garlic: Fresh or powdered garlic is added to the seasoning blend to add pungent and savory notes.
- Onion: Fresh or powdered onion is also used to add a sweet, slightly pungent flavor.
- Cumin: Ground cumin adds a warm, earthy flavor to the seasoning blend.
- Oregano: Mexican oregano is often used, which has a slightly different flavor profile than Mediterranean oregano. It adds a floral, slightly citrusy flavor to the blend.
- Paprika: Sweet or smoked paprika is used to add color and a mild smokiness to the seasoning blend.
- Pineapple: Some variations of al pastor seasoning include dried or fresh pineapple, which adds a sweet and tangy flavor to the blend.
- Vinegar: White vinegar is sometimes added to the seasoning blend to help tenderize the meat and add tanginess.
Al pastor seasoning is a complex and flavorful blend of spices and herbs that work together to create a bold and distinctive flavor profile.
Dishes to Prepare using Al Pastor Seasoning
Al pastor seasoning is a versatile blend that can be used to flavor a variety of dishes in Mexican cuisine. Here are some of the most popular dishes that are prepared using al pastor seasoning:
- Tacos al Pastor: Perhaps the most iconic dish prepared with al pastor seasoning, tacos al pastor consist of small corn tortillas filled with marinated pork, onions, cilantro, and sometimes pineapple. The pork is typically cooked on a vertical spit and shaved off in thin slices before being served in the taco.
- Al Pastor Burritos: Similar to tacos, burritos can also be filled with marinated pork, rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, and other toppings, and seasoned with al pastor seasoning for an added kick of flavor.
- Al Pastor Quesadillas: Quesadillas filled with cheese and al pastor-seasoned pork are a delicious and easy-to-make dish. Serve them with guacamole, sour cream, or salsa for added flavor.
- Al Pastor Nachos: For a fun and flavorful twist on traditional nachos, top tortilla chips with shredded al pastor-seasoned pork, cheese, beans, and other toppings, and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Al Pastor Salad: A lighter option, al pastor salad consists of a bed of greens topped with al pastor-seasoned pork, avocado, tomato, and other veggies. The dressing can be a simple vinaigrette or a creamy dressing made with sour cream or yogurt.
Thus, vegan al pastor seasoning can be used to add a bold and distinctive flavor to a variety of Mexican dishes. Experiment with different recipes to find your favorites and enjoy the complex and delicious taste of this classic seasoning blend.