Taste

[Chef Talk]

Tacos & Tequila chef shares his favorite ingredients

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Chef Saul Ortiz is all about the spicy, whether it’s ghost peppers or Thai dishes.
Photo: Sam Morris

Tacos & Tequila executive chef Saul Ortiz is obsessed with peppers. He loves talking about the famed ghost pepper (he’s even grown his own), and now, he’s fascinated by its more formidable kin: the scorpion pepper. “You’ll have an out-of-body experience eating one,” he says. “I want to create a club where people just eat peppers instead of drinking.” Here are a few of Ortiz’s other food favorites.

Dining-out cuisine: Thai “I like the spiciness of the curries, although my favorite dish is chicken basil, made with Thai chilies and serranos. It’s just amazing how the basil interacts with the peppers and other ingredients. It’s like a Sloppy Joe, Thai-style.”

Cheese: Oaxaca “It’s as stringy as mozzarella, but it’s got more flavor … just a bit more character and body. It opens up your palate a bit more and complements a multitude of other food flavors.”

Underrated cut of meat: skirt steak “In a flavor comparison with filet mignon or ribeye, I think there’s no comparison. If you like softness, you’ll go with the ribeye, but for flavor it’s all skirt steak. But go with outside skirt steak, because the inside skirt is really chewy.”

Place to drink: Firefly (Paradise location) “Two to three sangrias and some bacon-wrapped dates and you’ve got yourself a good night.”

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