It’s Fiesta Time at The Mzansi Food & Drink Show

… as Chef Aiden Pienaar brings Mexico to Mzansi!

by Tia
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There is exciting news for those planning on going to this weekend’s Mzansi Food & Drink Show at the Kyalami International Convention Centre!

Top chef and author of the best-selling cookery book Mexico in Mzansi, Aiden Pienaar, will be showing visitors how to make one of the stand out recipes from the book the Sosatie and Boerie Tacos with Crispy Pap Squares, Fresh Corn Tacos and Garlic Mayo (recipe below).

Port Elizabeth born but now a resident of Sandton, Pienaar is currently the Head Chef at Second Story, Sandton City.

In Mexico in Mzansi, Pienaar brings local flair to traditional Mexican favourites, from classics such as mole, refried beans and nachos, to innovations including Mexican chakalaka, chilli con carne vetkoek and the aforementioned sosatie and boerie tacos.

In advance of his appearance at The Mzansi Food & Drink Show we asked Pienaar a few questions.

How did you love of Mexican cuisine come about?

My folks adopted Mexican cuisine when I was very young. It was their go-to dinner party catering when having friends and family over. They always got me involved in the prep work, which in turn made me start understanding the flavours from an early age and it just stuck with me. I was also hooked on the whole idea of how food brings people together, and that’s what Mexico in Mzansi is all about — bringing people together.

Tell us about the mainstays of Mexican cuisine?

Mexican food is colourful, and the mainstays are corn, beans, chillies and white onions. Contrary to popular belief, chillies are used to add flavour rather than heat to the food. There are loads of other typical flavours such as cumin, fresh coriander, dried oregano and the quintessential lime.

What were you doing before your current role as head chef at Second Story?

I had a small 34-seater restaurant in the heart of Gqeberha serving many of the dishes featured in Mexico in Mzansi. It was a very vibey place with great music, cocktails and food. My best-sellers were deep-fried avocado, lamb taco, and crispy quinoa salad. The locals loved the place, and it’s something I would love to do again one day.

What was like producing your first cookbook?

It was a dream come true, but the journey was a long one. Many of the recipes in the book are from my archive and needed tweaking to make them more accessible for the home cook. I also added some recipes that are completely out of the box. The best part of producing the book was the photography! Seeing my dishes captured on film was remarkable.

What next?

The launch of the cookbook has opened doors for me, and I have made several TV appearances. I’m now working on having my own TV cooking programme where I can show viewers how to take everyday ingredients and turn them into an amazing Mexican meal with an Mzansi twist. There are a few other big and exciting projects in the media space so if people want to follow my journey they can do so via my Instagram page @aiden.pienaar.

What can visitors to The Mzansi Food & Drink Show expect from you?

I will be demonstrating the recipe that best represents the fusion between Mexico and Mzansi, the boerie and sosatie taco with crispy pap squares, fresh corn tacos and garlic mayo. If they want to practice it at home in the meantime, I have shared the recipe below.

AIDEN PIENAAR’S SOSATIE AND BOERIE TACOS (makes 6)

“I was inspired to create this taco for the iconic and much celebrated Heritage Day.”

Ingredients

For the Pap Squares:

625ml (2½ cups) water or chicken stock
5ml (1 tsp) salt
125ml (½ cup) maize meal, plus extra for dusting
Sunflower oil for frying

For the Tacos:

100g boerewors
100g BBQ marinated chicken sosaties
6 warm corn tortillas 
garlic Mayo
Fresh coriander for garnish
Lime wedges for garnish

Method

Make the pap squares by bringing the water or stock to the boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the salt and allow to dissolve. Gradually add the maize meal, stirring continuously. It will thicken dramatically as it cooks. When it begins to boil, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring continuously until thick. Reduce the heat further. After 5-10 minutes, the pap will start to come away from the sides of the pot. This is a sign it’s ready. Pour the pap into a 29cm square dish to about 1cm thick. Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave for 15-20 minutes until cool and set. Once the pap has set into a solid block, turn it out of the dish and cut into 1cm squares. Heat a little sunflower oil in a heavy-based pot to 180°C. While the oil is heating, toss the cooked pap squares in some maize meal to coat. Shake off any excess and fry until crispy and golden. Grill the sosaties and boerewors until juicy and succulent. Allow to cool slightly then cut into smaller-than-bite-size pieces and mix together in a bowl. Spooning garlic mayo onto each tortilla, top with the boerie and sosatie meat and add crispy pap squares. Garnish with fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Tickets for The Mzansi Food & Drink Showcan be booked via Howler.co.za
For more information on the show, visit: https://www.mzansifoodanddrink.com/

The Mzansi Food & Drink Show

Kyalami International Convention Centre
Saturday, 15 June, from 09h00 to 18h00
Sunday, 16 June (Father’s Day) from 09h00 to 18h00
Monday, 17 June (Youth Day) from 09h00 to 17h00

Social media links:

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