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Organic flaky sea salt enhanced with chocolate and chilli. Perfect to rub into or liberally coat chicken to barbeque, grill or roast. Can be used to make a salad drizzle or a delicious marinade.
When it comes to trying out new flavours in dishes I will admit I am a bit of a wuss, I often like to stick to the products I know and trust rather than venture out of my comfort zone, mostly due to the fact that I don't want my meal to be a flop and a waste of food if no one will end up eating it. I had previously tried another of the salts from the In-Salt range which I absolutely loved and have been using all throughout my dishes so I decided to take a risk and step out of my comfort zone to try out the Coco Loco.
The first thing that I liked about this particular product was the packaging it was very attractive and I loved that the bag it came in was a silver foil, this looked really effective with the black, yellow and white sticker on the front of it, but most of all I loved the clear see-through front, I was most impressed that this little bag was full to the brim and that I was able to see through it a good way to see what you are actually buying, my first initial thought was that it looked just like cocoa, however taking a closer look I could see definite flakes and various different herbs and spices, those which I soon found out were in fact smoked paprika, cumin, chilli as well as brown sugar, flaky sea salt, and cocoa... a very interesting combination indeed and a mix between those salty and those sweet.
The first time using this I decided not to be too adventurous and simply decided to use it as a marinade along with a bit of honey and soy sauce to marinate some chicken pieces, after mixing the marinade up I sat the chicken in the mix for 8 hours while I was at work, when I came home and was ready to cook the chicken the most aromatic smell came from the fridge where the chicken was I could certainly smell the herbs, Miss 5 commented about the nice smell, so I was hoping she would enjoy the taste also, after all, I didn't go overboard in the amount of Coco-Loco I added. I served the chicken up at dinner along with some carrots, broccoli and roast potatoes and I must say I actually quite liked the flavour, the paprika and chilli were the strongest flavors by far but adding the sweeter ingredients it made the heat you'd usually get from such ingredients bearable, the whole family actually enjoyed the chicken.
Next I decided to be a bit more adventurous, I popped up some popcorn kernels and then shook a tablespoon of Coco-Loco over top and gave it a good mix, the flavor this added to the popcorn sure was interesting, there was definitely a high heat level to it and it was all too much for my family that we couldn't eat it. So this isn't a way I'd use the product again.
To be honest I probably wouldn't buy this particular variety of In-Salt again as it is a bit out of my level, however, if you enjoy experimenting with different foods and a bit of spice you should totally try it. I look forward to trying out the rest of the range to find a product that's right for me.
I just love the name of this product - it is the sort of name you can imagine being given to a jingle which then forms the chorus of a Mexican dance. Coco is the Spanish for coconut, but it is also a slang term for your head! Loco, of course, means crazy. Since there is no coconut in this salt, I assume the name refers to someone who is a nut-case. And that entirely sums up the funky nature of this In-Salt variety. It is a product that is open to suggestion, the more innovative the better.
When I first opened the pack, I could smell the cumin so I immediately thought of making a curry. However, on tasting it, I realised that the chocolate after-taste would be completely lost in a curry. The man impression that greeted me was one of salt with a chilli sting that followed. There was also the richness of the paprika and brown sugar which gave it a mildly sweet flavour that kicked in after the initial chilli blast. And last of all the chocolate, hiding in the background but ready to make itself known once the pushy flavours had surfaced.
According to the packet, it is good to use as a rub with chicken. Having tasted a little of the mixture, and realised just how many layers of flavour there were, I decided to serve it with some roast chicken in place of table salt so people could add it direct to their meal. There were four of us for dinner, Mr 15, me, and my friends from the country who are keen nature lovers. I warned them all that there might be a backlash from the chilli and to be sparing with how much they took. Mr 15, who loves spicy food, sprinkled his chicken liberally. The Nature Lovers were a little more cautious. Mrs Nature Lover used only a pinch; Mr Nature Lover was more daring. He tasted, thought about it, and then took a little more.
When they had finished their chicken, I asked for feedback. Everyone liked it! The good thing about using it at the table was that each person could regulate his or her own amount. Mr Nature Lover was intrigued by the rich after-taste that lingered in his mouth. He was amazed to find that the ingredients included cocoa and brown sugar. Mrs Nature Lover was even more surprised. She insisted on reading the label for herself before she would believe me.
But my aim was to test the product in a really "loco" way, so I decided to use it in a dessert. I would make a Spicy Mocha Slice! I started with a caramel slice recipe. This consists of a coconut-and-flour-and-brown-sugar base, a fudgy caramel filling made from butter, condensed milk and brown sugar, and a chocolate icing. I added a teaspoon of Coco Loco to the base and three teaspoons to the chocolate icing. Then I served it to the family to see how they would react.
The adults loved it. It is extremely high in all sorts of undesirables like fats and sugars so is not a food you would have every day, but as a special occasion treat it is perfect. The children enjoyed their plainer version: they got the same base with a small amount of coco loco in it but with a plain chocolate icing. When they tried the full version to compare, it was too much for them - but interestingly, they found it too salty rather than too hot. The adults liked the spicier version as they found it cut the richness of the slice. I liked the spicy version too but could not eat a lot because the slice itself was so rich.
I look forward now to trying it mixed in with whipped cream for a pavlova - I plan to top it with crystallised ginger and tropical fruit in season - and also as a flavour with fresh popcorn instead of regular salt. There are so many possibilities.
I am well aware that cocoa has been used a few times in savoury dishes but I have never been somewhere selling a dish prepared with cocoa nor have I ever sought it out because to me it's just a too outlandish, but considering that a few years ago I would have balked at the idea of salt and caramel and now love that combination, I knew this was a prime opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. Being able to see into the packet, there is no doubt that cocoa is in this mix at all, there is also sea salt, brown sugar, paprika, cumin and chilli, so it looked and sounded like an interesting mix.
Sniffing it I could easily pick out the chilli and cumin and nothing else, so I tentatively dipped my finger in and gave it a taste as it was... And it was the salt and chilli that greeted me first and then the paprika slapped my in the back of the throat. Trying this, I knew that my kids would NOT be able to handle it, though they were game enough to have a tiny bit to try and promptly down a cup of milk. I ended up buying a slab of firm tofu and rubbed a generous amount of this mix all over it and left it to stew for a few hours (a must if you want the tofu to have some actual flavour) and then sliced it up and cooked it up. The food ended up having a lot of punch to it, for me, and I didn't like the overall flavour this provided. I used it a couple more times and ended with the same feeling each time.
I can see this having many uses for the right person but in this case, that's not me and I won't be buying it.
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