01 | Jul | 13

Richard Johnson

Salad Days

There are obsessives out there – but salad obsessives? Frances Smith was my first. And, in a pretty corner of Kent, she took me on a “nibbling safari”. She rolled a tight bundle of sorrel, claytonia and mustard, and pushed it into my mouth. It wasn’t dressed. It didn’t need to be – the vinegary sorrel, oily claytonia and mustard combined like they had dressed themselves. It was one of those moments I live for – I had discovered a new taste.

Now I can add Erica of Tachochu to my short list of salad obsessives. She was born in Kobe to a Japanese mother and a French father. Both cooked — Mom liked cooking spicy Asian, and Pop made Mediterranean and Moroccan. “I started cooking when I moved away from home and now, after three years in the design/advertising/publishing world, I’ve started Tacochu.”

Tacochu are making a name for themselves with taco rice — the world’s tastiest salad. It originated in Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, as the love child of Tex Mex (brought over by the US Marines after WWII) and local island cuisine. It’s got a bit of everything – warm sticky rice, hot spicy beef, crunchy salad, sweet tomatoes, creamy cheese, fresh soured cream, chunky guacamole and salsa.

Like any obsessive, Erica is all about the detail. “I use only organic British beef mince supplied by Ginger Pig, and the sweetest tomatoes I can find – my current favourites are from the Isle of Wight. My spice mix is a blend of 7 spices, and the salsa is a real labour of love. It takes hours to make but that’s what gives it that real smoky kick.” Track Tacochu down at the Fox in London E8 this week – obsession brings its own rewards!