International Cooking: Food from Mexico

I love Mexican food so this is a week I had really been looking forward to! So much so that I decided to dedicate two weeks to cooking Mexican food. You might ask why I didn’t do that for some of the other big countries, such as China, but I wasn’t working full-time then, and I am now, and I wanted to make sure I could make time to make all the dishes I wanted to (I still couldn’t fit everything in). I was excited to try some more authentic food from Mexico than I’m used to.


Mexico is part of North America, located south of the United States, and it has the most Spanish speakers in the world.

The region has been inhabited since around 8,000 BC, which makes it one of the world’s six cradles of civilization. Various civilizations lived in the area, but it was the Aztecs who eventually dominated.

In 1521, the Spanish came and conquered the Aztec Empire. They established a colony in the former Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, which became Mexico City. Spain expanded its territory in the area over the next few hundred years, until the Mexican War of Independence in the 19th century.

Mexico experienced a period of turmoil after gaining independence, which was not helped by the United States invading the country in 1848. Many changes took place, including the establishment of an empire, a dictatorship, and a revolution in 1910.

Finally, the country began to experience significant economic growth with a series of presidencies aligned with the same political party. Although Mexico still has issues with social inequality, poverty, systemic corruption, and extensive crime, it has still made gains in other areas and is often identified as an emerging power.

Mexico is a popular tourist destination due to its rich history, natural biodiversity, cuisine, media, and art.

What Do People Eat in Mexico?

Mexican cuisine varies widely across the country, and it would take me forever to cover it properly here but I’ll give a few of the more important and most interesting points. One thing that seems common everywhere is that many dishes still use ingredients and techniques from centuries ago, before the Spanish came.

Staple native ingredients still commonly used today include corn, beans, squash, chia, avocado, tomato, vanilla, sweet potato, cactus, and chilies. Turkeys are also native to Mexico as are a variety of tropical fruits such as guava, prickly pear, mangoes, bananas, and pineapple.

Corn stands out to me as being one of the most important ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Not only is it eaten as is, but some varieties (known as field corn) are also used to make masa, which is a corn flour used in cooking, such as for making tortillas. Masa is prepared by drying the corn, then soaking and cooking it in a solution of lime and water, referred to as nixtamalization. This process softens the corn and causes it to develop a different flavor. It was developed centuries ago by some of the first agricultural communities in Mexico.

The Spanish introduced many foods, with the most important being domesticated animals which provided meat and dairy. They also brought rice, which became popular throughout the country, as well as sugar, olive oil, and various fruits and vegetables.

Although many kinds of meat and seafood are popular in Mexico today, insects have been eaten in the region for thousands of years. Recently, it has become more common to eat insects, with popular species including grasshoppers, ant larvae, stink bugs, and water bug eggs.

One thing that I find interesting about Mexican cuisine is how so many different dishes can be made with the same or similar ingredients. Common elements include tortillas (or anything else made from masa), salsa, meat, and beans. There are many dishes that contain all these but are still somehow very different (and delicious).

Chilies are also a very popular ingredient in Mexican cooking, but they aren’t always used to make a dish spicy. There is a great variety found in Mexico, and some are very mild but offer other interesting flavors.

Chocolate originated in Mexico, and was highly prized by the Aztecs. It is still used today, most notably in some versions of mole sauce, in baked goods, and to make hot chocolate.

What I Made

Scroll down to read about other popular Mexican dishes I didn’t make!

Tacos Gobernador (Shrimp Tacos)

Tacos Gobernador (Shrimp Tacos)

These tacos were created in the northwestern state of Sinaloa in the 80s to honor the visit of the state’s governor, hence the name. Since then, they’ve become very popular. The filling includes shrimp, chilies, tomato, onion, and cheese, and although corn tortillas are more traditional, flour tortillas are often used.

These were really simple to make. I started by cooking sliced poblano and onion in butter. Then I added garlic, tomato, and a chopped jalapeño and cooked for a few more minutes. I added shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste, then when the shrimp were cooked, I stirred in cilantro and seasoned with salt and pepper.

To make the tacos, I put corn tortillas in a lightly greased skillet and topped them with cheese (I used Oaxaca here) and some of the filling. Then I folded each tortilla and cooked them until they were crisp and the cheese had melted.

These were awesome and I would definitely make them again, especially since they were so easy!

The recipe I used is from Rick Bayless.

Huevos Rancheros (Eggs, Beans, and Salsa on Tortillas)

Huevos Rancheros (Eggs, Beans, and Salsa on Tortillas)

This dish, translating to ‘ranch-style eggs’, is pretty well known in the United States. Variations often appear on breakfast and brunch menus throughout the country. It typically consists of tortillas, beans, eggs, and salsa.

First I made the refried beans. I don’t usually use a recipe when I make them these days. I cooked pinto beans (though I often use black beans instead) in lightly salted water with bay leaves, garlic cloves, and onion chunks. Then I strained the mixture but reserved the cooking liquid. I put the beans, garlic, and onion in the blender and added just enough of the cooking liquid to blend easily.

Next, I sautéed some finely chopped onion in a little oil (I think lard is traditional) and added the blended bean mixture. I cooked, stirring often, until the consistency thickened to what I wanted. I seasoned with salt and that was the refried beans done.

For the salsa, I put whole Roma tomatoes, a jalapeño, garlic cloves, and chiles de árbol in a skillet over low heat and cooked, turning often. The garlic cloves and dried chilies only took a few minutes but I cooked the tomatoes and jalapeño for longer, until the skin was just beginning to char in places.

Next I put everything in a food processor and blended until I had a salsa that was still a little chunky. The recipe said to use a mortar and pestle but mine wasn’t big enough to make this much salsa. I put the salsa in a saucepan and let it simmer while I finished preparing everything else.

To make the huevos rancheros, I lightly fried some corn tortillas in oil and put them on a plate. I topped them with refried beans, fried eggs, and salsa. Then I added cilantro and cotija cheese. The beans are not always on the tortillas; in fact I think it’s more common for them to be served on the side. But I wanted them on my tortillas so that is where I put them!

I got the salsa recipe from a cookbook: ‘Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexico’ by Claudia Sandoval. I also loosely followed the huevos rancheros recipe from this book.

Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblanos with Walnut Sauce)

Chiles en Nogada (Stuffed Poblanos with Walnut Sauce)

I was a little apprehensive about this dish because it sounded odd to me. However, it’s considered Mexico’s national dish, representing all the colors of the flag, so I decided I needed to try it. It consists of stuffed poblano peppers topped with a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.

First, I charred poblano chilies on my gas stove until the skin was blackened and beginning to pull away. I put the chilies in a bowl, which I covered with plastic wrap and set aside.

Next, I made the filling. I seasoned ground pork with salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Then I simmered it with onion, bay leaves, garlic, and a little water. I was meant to strain off the excess water but it mostly evaporated anyway so this step didn’t seem necessary. I removed the onion, garlic, and bay leaves and set the meat aside.

I sautéed some chopped onion in butter, then added chopped tomato, followed by chopped apple and raisins a few moments later. I was also meant to include ripe plantain or banana but I used extra apple instead. I added a little sugar, salt, and pepper, and cooked for a few more minutes before adding the cooked meat as well as some toasted pine nuts.

I removed the skin from the poblano chilies, which was pretty easy by now except for a few stubborn pieces around the stems. I cut a slit in each chili and removed the seeds, then stuffed them with the filling. I put them in the oven for about 10 minutes while I made the sauce.

To make the sauce, I combined toasted walnuts with cream cheese, bread soaked in milk, sherry, sugar, and salt in a blender. I had to add a fair bit of cream for the sauce to blend smoothly. I put the sauce in a saucepan and heated it gently until warm.

To serve, I poured the sauce over the poblanos and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and parsley. I normally think of cilantro when adding a herb garnish to Mexican dishes, but it appears parsley is actually more common here.

I have to say that this dish really surprised me. I wasn’t sure about this combination of flavors, but they all worked really well together. This is a dish I would even consider making again, despite the work involved.

The recipe I used is from the Culinary Mexico cookbook by Daniel Hoyer.

Margaritas

Margaritas

There are a few different stories concerning the margarita’s origin, but it’s thought to have been created somewhere in the Mexican state of Baja California in the 1930s. I don’t think a margarita needs much explanation—it’s a tequila-based cocktail with orange liqueur, lime juice, and optional sweetener. I’ve never really attempted to make anything like a traditional version before, and this is probably still not it, but it’s close.

I combined silver tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar, lime juice, and ice cubes in a jar (my makeshift cocktail shaker) and shook for a bit. Then I poured it into glasses which I had given a chili salt rim. I think triple sec may be more common than Cointreau, but I already had the latter so I went with it (and it’s what the recipe called for).

This was delicious of course! And it’s something even my picky husband can enjoy (without the chili salt rim).

This recipe also comes from a cookbook: ‘Amá: A Modern Tex-Mex Kitchen’ by Joseph Centeno and Betty Hallock.

Esquites (Corn Salad)

Esquites (Corn Salad)

Esquites is a street food snack made by combining corn with mayonnaise, cheese, chili, and lime juice. Elotes is a similar dish, with the primarily difference being that the corn is left on the cob.

I started by cooking frozen corn kernels in butter with garlic and jalapeño. I went with frozen corn since it was easier, and it worked out fine, but I’m sure fresh would be better.

After a few minutes, I added the corn mixture to a bowl and combined it with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, cilantro, salt, lime juice, and chili powder. Before serving, I garnished with more cotija and chili powder.

This tasted really good; I had it as a side dish with my birria (next dish) for lack of a better idea. Although I think it’s supposed to be served warm, I found it also tasted really good cold as leftovers the next day.

This recipe is from Isabel Eats.

Birria (Meat Stew) with Quesabirria (Birria Tacos)

Birria (Meat Stew)

Birria is another dish that has become popular outside of Mexico. Traditionally, it was more like what is known as ‘barbacoa’—meat cooked in a pit. It was typically made of a whole goat or lamb, seasoned with a dried chili paste, and barbecued in a pit. It wasn’t until around 1950 that birria as it’s known today was developed, when more liquid was added to the meat to make it more of a stew. Birria today can be made from all kinds of meat; goat and lamb are still popular but pork or beef can also be used. The meat makes a great filling for tacos, with the broth served on the side.

The recipe I used called for a variety of meats: lamb, veal, and pork. I halved the recipe and just used lamb leg and pork shoulder.

I made a chili paste by blending toasted and soaked ancho and guajillo chilies with vinegar, peppercorns, cloves, Mexican oregano, cumin seeds, onion, garlic, salt, and water. The recipe also called for cascabel chilies which I found harder to get, so I used extra ancho. I covered the meat with the paste and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I made a makeshift rack out of foil for my meat to sit on, since I didn’t have an appropriate rack to go in my Dutch oven as the recipe requested. I added the meat and some water and let it cook, covered, in the oven for around 3 hours.

I was meant to wait for the broth to cool a bit so I could skim off the fat, but I didn’t really leave enough time for that, so I just skimmed what I could while it was still warm. I roasted some tomatoes and blended them until smooth, then added them to the skimmed broth and brought it to a boil.

I shredded the meat and served it in bowls with the broth, garnished with onion and cilantro with tortillas on the side.

This was my first time trying birria and I thought it was delicious! It’s not hard to make either, just a bit time-consuming.

The recipe I used here is from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy.

Quesabirria (Birria Tacos)

Of course, I had to make quesabirria with my leftover birria! I dipped corn tortillas in the broth, then set them on a hot skillet. I topped them with shredded meat, onion, cilantro, and Oaxaca cheese, and followed them over to make tacos. My first taco was quite successful but my second suffered from some structural problems. This did not affect the flavor though; these were amazing dipped in some of the broth.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is, I think, most often associated with Italian cuisine. However, it was actually developed in Tijuana, Mexico, by either Alex or Caesar Cardini, who were Italian immigrants. There seem to be differing accounts as to who actually created it, but in Diana Kennedy’s cookbook, she says that the dressing was created by Caesar but his brother, Alex, invented the salad. Her recipe comes after having Alex himself make her the salad, and it’s a little different to the Caesar salad you are probably familiar with. I made a few adjustments myself, mostly to make the salad easier to eat.

First, I made the croutons. The recipe called for round slices of French bread, but I used a simple homemade loaf, cut into decent-sized cubes. I tossed them with oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper, then baked them in the oven until crispy. The recipe didn’t call for adding oil until after baking for a while but this seemed a bit odd to me.

Next, I was meant to crush garlic and anchovies together with oil and spread that on the bread, but I decided to incorporate this into the dressing instead.

For the dressing, I first coddled an egg—meaning I boiled it for about a minute so that the white was just setting. I mixed the egg with minced garlic and anchovies, olive oil, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan cheese, and a little salt and pepper. Then I tossed the dressing with Romaine lettuce and croutons and topped the salad with more Parmesan.

I think my flavors were similar to the recipe, but from what I can tell (there are no photos in this book), the Romaine leaves should be kept whole and the croutons are more like crostini as they are large too.

I thought this tasted good but I probably wouldn’t bother with the coddled egg again; the Caesar salad recipe I usually use includes a raw egg which doesn’t bother me.

The recipe I used is from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy.

Pescado a la Veracruzana

Pescado a la Veracruzana

This dish gets its name from Veracruz, a state on the east coast of Mexico. It consists of fish smothered in a Spanish-inspired sauce including red bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, capers, and olives. Either a whole fish or fish fillets can be used; I went with flounder fillets.

First I sautéed chopped onion for a few minutes. Then I added garlic, followed shortly by white wine. Once the wine was reduced, I added chopped tomatoes and red bell peppers. A few minutes later, I added oregano, bay leaves, capers, olives, pickled jalapeños, salt, and a little water. I simmered the sauce for a while and meanwhile, I prepared the fish.

I combined flour with a little salt and pepper and used it to dust the fish. Then I pan-fried the fish until done.

At this point, I was meant to put the fish in a baking dish, top it with the sauce, and put the whole thing in the oven. But I didn’t really feel this was necessary, especially since my fish fillets were very thin and I didn’t want them to dry out. I just put the fish on a plate with the sauce on top. I served this with plain white rice.

I have to say that olives and capers aren’t my favorite flavors, but they did work well in this sauce. It tasted very different from any other Mexican food I’ve had before, likely because there is such a heavy Spanish influence here.

The recipe I used is from Mexican Food Memories.

Pozole (Pork and Hominy Stew)

Pozole (Pork and Hominy Stew)

Pozole is a stew made from hominy and meat, typically pork or chicken. It comes in many varieties, but this week I went with a spicy red pozole with lots of fresh toppings.

I cheated here and used canned hominy, but traditionally you would use fresh or dry, which would need to be cooked for longer. Pozole is actually another word for hominy.

I browned some chopped pork shoulder in oil, then added onion to the same pan and sautéed until transparent. I added garlic and cooked for a minute more, then returned the pork to the pan along with cumin, Mexican oregano, bay leaves, ground cloves, a chopped guajillo chili, and a chopped chipotle in adobo.

After a few more minutes, I added chicken broth, brought it to a boil. and let everything simmer, covered, for nearly an hour until the pork was tender. I added the hominy and cooked for another 10 minutes or so.

I served this topped with shredded cabbage, chopped onion, cilantro, and cotija cheese, with lime wedges on the side.

I really enjoyed this; it came out spicier than I expected and I think the acidity from the lime was needed at the end, but it was delicious. I’d definitely make this again!

This recipe is from Culinary Mexico by Daniel Hoyer.

Mole Poblano Enchiladas (Enchiladas with Chili-Chocolate Sauce)

Mole Poblano Enchiladas (Enchiladas with Chili-Chocolate Sauce)

Mole is something I’ve always wanted to try, and this was my chance! In Mexico, mole refers to a sauce that is usually served poured over cooked meat, or it can be used on enchiladas as I did here. There are many variations, though I think most non-Mexican people think of mole as a chili-chocolate sauce. This is the kind I decided to make.

First I deseeded ancho, mulato, and pasilla chilies and toasted them for a few minutes. I put them in a bowl and covered them with hot water. While the chilies were soaking, I put some Roma tomatoes in the oven to roast until the skins began to char. I also sautéed some onion and garlic.

In a dry skillet, I toasted sesame seeds, cloves, fennel seeds (I was meant to use anise but fennel was what I had and they do have a similar flavor), and black peppercorns. When the sesame seeds were just turning golden, I added ground cinnamon and Mexican oregano and cooked for a few seconds more. I poured this mixture into my spice grinder and ground it until it was fine.

Next, I added all the ingredients to my blender: the chilies, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spice mixture. I also added some chicken stock. The recipe said you can use the water from soaking the chilies if it’s not bitter, but it tasted a little bitter to me so I left it out. Finally, I added raisins, almonds, and salt, and blended everything until I had a smooth sauce.

I added a little oil to a pan and added the mole sauce. I added a bit more stock, and once the sauce was hot I turned off the heat and started adding my chocolate. I used Mexican chocolate for this, which had some cinnamon added.

The recipe said you can add more chocolate for a sweeter mole, and I wasn’t aiming for a sweet mole, but I found this to be so bitter that I did add more chocolate. I don’t really know why it was bitter; I know I didn’t burn anything. But after adding more chocolate and a little more salt, I thought the flavor was okay. Just not amazing, again because there was still an underlying bitterness. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to taste or not.

I used this to make some simple enchiladas. I stuffed corn tortillas with chicken and cheese, put them in the oven briefly, and then served them topped with my mole. The sauce tasted better than it did on its own but I still feel like maybe I was missing something here. I’ll have to seek out some authentic mole to compare!

The recipe I used is from Mexican Please.

Chilaquiles (Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Egg)

Chilaquiles (Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Egg)

Chilaquiles is another dish popular in the United States. It consists of tortilla chips tossed with salsa and is often served for breakfast, topped with an egg. Since I made red salsa for my huevos rancheros, I decided to go with a chilaquiles recipe that used green salsa.

First, I added tomatillos to a pot of water with some onion, garlic, and a serrano chile. I let this mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, then strained it and added the solids to a blender with some salt and cilantro. I blended until smooth—the recipe said I could add water if needed but I didn’t find it necessary.

Next, I gently cooked some chopped onion in oil, then added the salsa and chicken Better Than Bouillon (the recipe included a bouillon cube instead). I let the salsa simmer gently for a few minutes.

I made my tortilla chips by cutting corn tortillas into triangles and then frying them—pretty simple. Then I was ready to fry my egg and start assembling.

I tossed the tortilla chips with some of the warm salsa and put them on my plate. I drizzled over some Mexican crema, then sprinkled over queso fresco and added a fried egg on top. I garnished with a bit of cilantro, and my chilaquiles were ready.

I thought this tasted really good and I think I did a good job of keeping the tortillas from getting soggy—I think you’re meant to find that perfect balance between super crispy and soggy where it’s neither one nor the other.

The recipe I used here is from Epicurious on YouTube by chef Saúl Montiel, who I am actually a big fan of! I used to watch a lot of Epicurious’ videos where there’s a regular person who doesn’t really cook much, a more advanced home chef, and a professional chef who all cook the same dish in their own way. He was one of my favorite chefs to watch!

Telera Rolls (Sandwich Rolls)

Telera Rolls (Sandwich Rolls)

I’ve eaten telera rolls before; they are really just like regular bread rolls with two deep grooves on top. I have seen them shaped into more of a long oval shape so they’re almost like a thick hotdog bun, and versions like the one I made, which are like slightly elongated hamburger buns. These rolls are typically used in Mexico to make tortas—which as far as I can tell, is a word that can be used for just about any kind of sandwich made on a roll rather than on sliced bread.

The recipe I used was mostly like a regular bread recipe, starting with combining yeast, sugar, and warm water. I added flour after about 10 minutes, as well as salt. What made this recipe a bit different was the addition of a decent amount of vegetable shortening.

I kneaded the dough, then put it in a greased bowl, covered it, and let it sit for around 1 1/2 hours. I divided the risen dough into rolls, shaped them, and let them rise again for about 45 minutes.

Right before baking, I brushed the rolls with salted water, then baked them until golden brown.

These rolls were soft on the inside and delicious, and I knew they would be perfect for the Mexican sandwiches I had coming up later in the week!

The recipe I used is from another cookbook: Bienvenidos to Our Kitchen by Luis and Marilyn Peinado.

Carnitas (Pulled Pork Tacos)

Carnitas (Pulled Pork Tacos)

This is another dish that many people are probably familiar with—carnitas, which is essentially pulled pork. It’s often served on tacos, which is what I did with my carnitas. I also used the pork to make a torta ahogada (next dish).

I started by seasoning large chunks of pork shoulder with salt and pepper, and browning them in oil in my Dutch oven. Traditionally, lard would be used here. Then I added diced onion, whole garlic cloves, chicken stock, milk, Mexican oregano, bay leaves, cloves, a cinnamon stick, a chopped chili in adobo, and a whole orange. I covered the pot and let the meat cook in the oven for about 3 hours until it was tender enough to shred.

I removed the chicken from the pot and shredded it, then took the orange from the pot and squeezed in the juice. I removed the whole spices and bay leaves, and here I deviated from the recipe and put the remaining liquid and onion/garlic bits in a blender. This was because this was the only way to ensure my husband would eat this; I couldn’t leave pieces of onion!

I poured the blended mixture back into the Dutch oven and added the shredded pork. Then I baked it in the oven, uncovered, for a few minutes. I don’t think I left it long enough; I was hungry and also didn’t want to dry the meat out too much. I think there were meant to be more crispy bits.

Despite this, I thought the flavor was amazing. I wouldn’t mind making this again with Coca Cola instead of milk—the recipe said either can be used. Since the Coca Cola is obviously a more modern ingredient, I used the milk, but I’m interested to see how the results may differ.

The recipe I used is from Culinary Mexico, by Daniel Hoyer.

Torta Ahogada (Sandwich Drowned in Salsa)

Torta Ahogada (Sandwich Drowned in Salsa)

My husband asked me what I was doing and why my salsa was on top of my sandwich and how I was supposed to eat it when he saw me bring this to the table. I kind of agree; I mean I know it’s a bit ridiculous. But it tasted really good and I think it was supposed to be messy!

This is a torta ahogada—basically a pulled pork sandwich ‘drowned’ in salsa. It is popular in Guadalajara, the capital of the state of Jalisco on the west coast of Mexico.

I used leftover carnitas for the filling, and one of my homemade telera rolls for the bread, so all I really had to do here was make the salsa.

I started by soaking some chile de arbol peppers in hot water. I also broiled some tomatoes until the skin was charred. Then I added them to a blender with the chilies, along with garlic, onion, vinegar, salt, cumin, and Mexican oregano. After blending, I transferred the sauce to a saucepan and simmered for a few minutes until it was hot.

I filled my sandwiches with carnitas, red onion, and cotija cheese. Then I placed my sandwich on a plate and poured some salsa over the top.

Yes, this did look like a mess but it was delicious!

This recipe is from Isabel Eats.

Pambazo (Potato and Chorizo Sandwich)

Pambazo (Potato and Chorizo Sandwich)

My husband asked me why I put sauce on top of my sandwich again when I made this sandwich just a few days after the torta ahogada. This sandwich was a bit more manageable to eat since there was much less sauce.

A pambazo is typically made of a specific type of bread by the same name, but I used one of my homemade telera rolls instead.

First, I started cooking diced potatoes in water. While they were cooking, I soaked guajillo peppers in a bowl with hot water.

I crumbled some Mexican chorizo (not to be confused with the Spanish kind!) into a pan and after cooking for a few minutes, added the boiled potato and cooked for a little longer. I seasoned with a little salt and pepper, but I didn’t need to add much since the chorizo had so much flavor.

I put the guajillo peppers in a blender with some of the soaking water, as well as garlic, Mexican oregano, and pepper. After blending, I strained to create a smooth, thin sauce.

I brushed my telera rolls with some of the guajillo sauce and toasted them lightly. Then I filled them with the chorizo and potato mixture, along with lettuce, Mexican crema, and queso fresco. This made for a delicious sandwich that was a bit easier to eat than the torta ahogada!

The recipe I used is from Mexico in My Kitchen.

Papas Escabechadas (Pickled Potatoes)

Papas en Escabechadas (Pickled Potatoes)

I was trying to choose dishes from all over Mexico, and this dish from the state of Yucatán caught my eye. I love potatoes but I’d never tried pickling them before.

First, I sliced some onion and blanched it in boiling water. I drained the onion and mixed it with salt, lime juice (traditionally this would be bitter orange juice), and finely chopped habanero. I let that sit while I cooked the potatoes.

I peeled and chopped red potatoes, then boiled them until just cooked. While still warm, I added them to the onion mixture with some cilantro.

I let the potatoes sit for a bit as they are meant to be served at room temperature. This was an interesting dish; I didn’t hate it but can’t say I loved it either!

This recipe is from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy.

  • Tecolota – this is a bread roll filled with chilaquiles! It often includes other ingredients too, such as refried beans, cheese, sour cream, onion, and cilantro.
  • Tacos al pastor – these tacos were created by Lebanese immigrants, and consist of pork cooked on a vertical spit like the meat in doner kebabs. Other ingredients include pineapple, onion, and cilantro.
  • Tacos de canasta – tortillas that can be filled with various stews, then bathed in oil or melted butter. The name, meaning ‘basket tacos’, comes from the fact that they are usually kept in a basket to keep warm before selling. These tacos are soft rather than crisp because of the way they are stored, but they are very popular.
  • Tamales – there are many variations of tamales, but they typically include masa dough with a filling of some sort, and are wrapped in either corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.
  • Chile relleno – roasted poblano peppers that are stuffed with a ground meat and/or cheese filling, then coated in an egg white batter and masa and fried. They are often served with a tomato salsa.
  • Tlayuda – a large corn tortilla, cooked until dry and crispy and topped with various ingredients such as refried beans, shredded pork, chorizo, and/or cheese. It can be served open-faced like a pizza or folded over like a large taco.
  • Conchas – sweet bread rolls with a crunchy streusel topping in the pattern of a seashell.
  • Champurrado – hot chocolate that includes masa and cinnamon, like chocolate atole (atole is a popular corn-based drink in Mexico as well as in many nearby countries).

Final Thoughts

This was a great week, as I had expected it would be. It was very difficult to choose favorites here but the pozole, birria, chilaquiles, and chiles en nogada were all up there!

Next week, I will be cooking food from Micronesia.

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