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Salsas

Mexican Food Information

Avocado in Tomatillo Sauce Recipe star
This very typical Mexican salad partners the liveliness of ripe tomatillos with rich, smooth avocado, chillies and fragrant coriander, all characteristic Mexican ingredients – and accompanied by totopos or tortilla chips with which to scoop it up, it is a vibrant taste of Mexico.

Ceviche Recipe star
Raw fish marinated in citrus juice is a traditional way of preparing seafood, found all along the coast of Mexico, and Latin America generally. The sharp, acid fluid effectively “cooks” the flesh without ruining the soft, delicate texture.

Chilaquile Casserole Recipe star
In this very Mexican casserole, stale tortillas are folded into a rich, smoky tomato sauce studded with feta cheese, topped with cheddar and baked until crusty. Rich, savoury and utterly satisfying.

Chilorio Recipe from Sinaloa star
Sinaloa, in the North West of the country opposite Baja California, is the home of the very regional Chilorio, which has spread north and east across the state’s borders but not much further. The best way to describe it is perhaps as the Sinaloaense cooks’ version of pork carnitas.

Eggs in Mestiza Sauce Recipe star
The traditional name is impossible to describe or interpret. Translated word for word, it means eggs in the rags and tatters of a woman born of a Spaniard and an indigenous Mexican – which of course means nothing at all!

Epiphany in Mexico - Green Tamales Recipe star
In many Mexican households, Epiphany is almost more important than Christmas and the chosen day to exchange gifts. Hot chocolate and churros are served for breakfast, and tamales, that quintessentially historical Mexican dish, take pride of place on the table.

Mexican Antojitos - Yucatecan Codzitos Recipe star
To “codz” is to roll and the Yucatecan codzitos are to all intents and purposes what the rest of Mexico calls a taco, or more specifically a taco dorado, golden taco, one which has been fried until it is deeply coloured and wonderfully crunchy.

Mexican Meatballs Recipe star
Meatballs are a global favourite, and recipes for them abound. There are of course countless ways of making them, some very regional like the one below, some virtually international. Certain additions however do seem to be very Mexican, which contribute to their specific texture and flavours.

Mexican oregano star
If you believe that one oregano is much like another, you are mistaken! The oregano which most of us use in our cooking, whether fresh or dried, is Origanum Vulgare, native to the Mediterranean and part of the mint family. Mexican oregano, on the other hand, is not actually an oregano at all.

Oxtail in Oaxacan Coloradito Recipe star
Oaxaca’s Mole Coloradito is a splendid partner to braised oxtail – a rich, bold and spicy combination.

Plantain Crisps Recipe star
Un tostón = fifty centavos. I do not believe that the tostón of my childhood still exists, but it was a lovely coin, with an Aztec head on one side and the Mexican eagle and snake on the reverse. My only experience of a tostón nowadays is not gastronomic, as the name of a Mexican Caribbean snack.

Prawns in Garlic Sauce Recipe star
There are versions of mojo throughout Latin America, and in Mexico, Mojo de Ajo or simply Garlic Sauce is very garlicky indeed, bright with lime juice and rich with butter. All along the coast, both Pacific and Gulf, it is a regular and oh so delicious partner to fresh prawns and shrimp.

Salsas, the Sauces of Mexico star
The word salsa simply means sauce in Spanish and although it has somehow become synonymous with a blood red, sour mess which comes out of a jar, it is light years away from a real Mexican salsa, which is a boisterous, exuberant combination of diced raw vegetables and/or fruit, chillies and herbs.

Tacos of Oven-roasted Achiote Carnitas Recipe star
Achiote, a spice blend based on annatto seeds, is one of the most recognizable flavours of southern Mexican cuisine and finds its way into countless regional dishes including Yucatecan pork carnitas. Slow-roast belly of pork, basted with an achiote marinade, makes wonderfully succulent carnitas.

Tacos of Achiote-marinated Pork Carnitas Recipe star
Achiote, a spice blend based on annatto seeds, is one of the most recognizable flavours of southern Mexican cuisine and finds its way into countless regional dishes including Yucatecan pork carnitas: rich and succulent, hot, sweet and sharp, wrapped in a warm corn tortilla with a sparkling salsa.

The Chillies of Mexico - El Chile de Árbol star
The “tree chilli” is smooth-skinned, thin and pointed, often slightly curved, green when young and gradually turning from orange to scarlet as it meanders towards its prime. Barely three or four centimetres long, its stem is hard and woody but its relationship to a tree is non-existent.

The Chillies of Mexico - El Habanero star
El Habanero is a Yucatán lad who emigrated to Mexico from South America, probably Brazil or Peru, via Cuba, where it may have acquired its name, “from Havana”. It is the hottest chilli in the region itself and in fact in the country, as well as the most widely used in the Peninsula.

The Chillies of Mexico - El Mulato star
Broad-shouldered, long, dark and handsome, El Mulato is sultry and wizened, tasting of ripe fruit and chocolate, with a whisper of smoke and a dash of sweetness which are barely tempered by its gente warmth.

The Chillies of Mexico - El Pasilla star
Pasilla translates as “little raisin”, which is an obvious indicator of its flavour: faintly sweet and reminiscent of dried fruit, even of sun-dried tomatoes, quite earthy, even woodsy or herby, with a hint of sharpness and acidity in the background, and a lush, full aftertaste.

The Day of the Dead - Pork in Green Mole Recipe star
Mole Verde or green mole comes in different guises with the elaborate and very delicious Oaxacan version perhaps taking pride of place. Many other much simpler kinds of mole verde however are to be found throughout the country, and their main characteristics are their freshness and sparkle.

The Herbs of Mexico - Mexican Oregano star
If you believe that one oregano is much like another, you are mistaken! The oregano which most of us use in our cooking, whether fresh or dried, is Origanum Vulgare, native to the Mediterranean and part of the mint family. Mexican oregano, on the other hand, is not actually an oregano at all.

The Sauces of Mexico - Adobo star
An adobo starts off as a marinade and from there often graduates to being a sauce. The name comes from the Spanish “adobar”, which has several meanings, among them “to marinate, pickle or cure” but more importantly, “to stew”, all verbs which illustrate an adobo’s versatility very nicely.

The Sauces of Mexico - Adobo Verde Recipe star
From the verb adobar, meaning to marinate, pickle, cure or even stew, the Mexican adobo acts primarily as a medium for incorporating flavour and starts off as a chilli and spice paste sharpened with vinegar or lime juice. It comes in just two colours, red and green.

The Sauces of Mexico - Cooked Tomato Sauce star
A cooked tomato sauce is one of the most important building blocks of Mexican cuisine. Not only does it have a role to play in its own right, but it is also a starting point for countless other dishes for behind many great classical Mexican culinary creations stands the “salsa de tomate cocida”.

The Sauces of Mexico - Encacahuatado star
A sauce thickened with seeds and nuts is an utterly pre-Hispanic concept, and Spanish chroniclers who accompanied Hernán Cortés during the conquest of Mexico talked in their accounts of great earthenware cazuelas full of bubbling red sauces which were thickened in precisely this way.

The Sauces of Mexico - Guacamole Recipe star
Guacamole is one of the best known Mexican dishes and its fame has spread far and wide, to the extent that you can buy it in a tub in the refrigerated section of a supermarket, and even a ‘long-life’ version in a jar - and if that is all you have ever tasted, you are in for a big surprise.

The Sauces of Mexico - Mole star
The Aztecs called it “molli” or “mulli”. In their Náhuatl language, it simply meant sauce or mixture. For the Spaniards, who encountered it in its countless versions in the cooking pots of the great market place of Tenochtitlán, it became “mole”, the name which it still bears today.

The Sauces of Mexico - Oaxacan Coloradito star
Oaxaca’s Mole Coloradito is much bigger than its name which translates quite simply as Little Coloured Sauce, or Little Red Sauce. Habitually referred to as just Coloradito, it is life-sized and powerful, gutsy and spicy, rich and deep.

The Sauces of Mexico - Pico de Gallo star
Pico de Gallo translates as cockerel’s beak for some unfathomable reason and is a standard salsa which appears on the table in a restaurant at the beginning of a meal, to be eaten with “totopos” or tortilla chips while perusing the menu or waiting for the rest of the meal to arrive.

The sauces of Mexico - Pipián Verde recipe star
A truly pre-Hispanic sauce, Pipián Verde is rich with pumpkin seeds and the characteristic caramel tones of tomatillos roasted in the oven.

The Sauces of Mexico - Recado star
The “recado”, like the ubiquitous “adobo”, is not really a sauce, but a spice and herb blend or paste used to flavour meat, fish or vegetables before cooking, and is a particular speciality of the Yucatán peninsula.

The Sauces of Mexico - Salsa Borracha Recipe star
The blue-grey maguey, with its wavy, fleshy arms spiked with sharp thorns, is an indelible feature of the Mexican landscape and the source of a mildly alcoholic, pre-Hispanic drink known as pulque. The sweet sap of the plant has been fermented for millennia to produce something akin to beer.

The Sauces of Mexico - Salsa Cruda star
Salsa Cruda, raw sauce, or Salsa Fresca, fresh sauce – names which could mean anything, but in Mexico, they both refer to one very specific sauce, which is the quintessential and most common of all Mexican salsas

The Sauces of Mexico - Salsa Verde Cruda star
A raw “salsa”, made from tomatillos, the Mexican green husked tomato, is one of the pillars, and joys, of the Mexican table.

The Sauces of Mexico - Yucatecan Salsa Xnipec star
The Mayas’ nose of the dog has a rich sting, with the local habanero chilli providing uncompromising fire and brimstone. Salsa Xnipec is to the Yucatán Peninsula what Salsa Cruda is to the rest of the country: the most popular and traditional table sauce, served at virtually every meal.

The Sauces of Mexico - Yucatecan Sikil Paak star
Rich and creamy with pumpkin seeds, spicy with roasted chillies and fresh with the juice of the very local sour orange, naranja agria, the Mayas’ Sikil Paak is one of the Yucatán’s great specialities.

The Spices of Mexico - Achiote star
The talents and versatility of the Americas’ “poor man’s saffron” are manifold, from body paint and cosmetics to insect repellent and food colouring.

The Spices of Mexico - Vanilla star
Vanilla is a shy and gentle spice. There is nothing brash or flamboyant about it, and yet its power is great, with a delicately warm, sweet flavour and scent which are deeply evocative, almost hypnotic.

Tomatillo and Mulato Chilli Sauce Recipe star
My favourite way of serving this sauce is with a fried egg sitting on a lightly fried tortilla – very reminiscent in fact of that Mexican classic, Huevos Rancheros, Eggs from the Ranch. While the whole dish is typically served for breakfast, it also makes a delicious lunch or supper.

Tomatoes - The Aztecs' Tomatl star
The Incas thought little of the vine with its small golden fruit, a weed growing among the bean and corn plants in their fields. However, the vine slowly spread across the continent and today the Aztecs’ tomatl is cultivated wordwide and is an intrinsic part of countless gastronomies.

Tostadas from Guadalajara Recipe star
Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, is home to Los Tapatíos, as its residents are known. They are very keen on their food and the local cuisine is rich and savoury, with noticeable pre-Columbian and post-Hispanic roots.

Tuna-stuffed Jalapeño Chilli Recipe from Veracruz star
The famous jalapeño chilli is a native of Veracruz and finds its way into pretty much every area of the state’s (and country’s) gastronomy, and Veracruzana cooks are keen on stuffing it with anything from fresh crab and tinned tuna to cheese, meat and vegetables.

Veracruz - Fish a la Veracruzana star
The bustling port of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico is a melting pot of culinary influences and much of its cuisine is based on the local fish, the most famous being Pescado a la Veracruzana, a perfect example of the blending of Old and New World ingredients.

Veracruz - Mole de Xico star
Veracruz’s best known mole may not be as celebrated as those of other regions but it deserves a hearty accolade. Its flavours are nutty, rich and fruity – even steamy, lush and tropical – and the texture is thick and wonderfully jammy. It is not fast food but very manageable and worth the effort.

Veracruz - Mole de Xico Recipe star
Veracruz’s best known mole may not be as celebrated as those of other regions but it deserves a hearty accolade. Its flavours are nutty, rich and fruity – even steamy, lush and tropical – and the texture is thick and wonderfully jammy. It is not fast food but very manageable and worth the effort.

Veracruz - Picadas Recipe star
The Veracruzana Picada, like its sister, the Pellizcada, is a very regional member of the vast clan of Mexican antojitos – snacks based on corn, cooked, served and consumed mainly on the streets and in the markets.

Yucatán - Chicken with Capers Recipe star
A speciality of the state of Campeche on the Yucatán Peninsula, Pollo Alcaparrado or Chicken with Capers is very post-Hispanic in that it features ingredients like raisins, capers and olives let alone chicken, all of which arrived after the Spanish Conquest.

Yucatán - Chicken with Capers Recipe star
A speciality of the state of Campeche on the Yucatán Peninsula, Pollo Alcaparrado or Chicken with Capers is very post-Hispanic in that it features ingredients like raisins, capers and olives let alone chicken, all of which arrived after the Spanish Conquest.

Yucatán - Fish Tikin Xic Recipe star
Tikin Xic is an ancient Maya method of preparing fish, featuring local, pre-Hispanic ingredients like chillies, tomatoes and sour oranges, naranjas agrias. One can sometimes still find a truly authentic version, where the fish is wrapped in banana leaves and then baked in a pib or pit.

Yucatán - Kibbeh Recipe star
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw an influx of Christian immigrants from the Middle East to the Yucatán Peninsula. Fleeing religious persecution under the Ottoman Empire, they brought traditional ingredients and dishes of their homelands which have been absorbed into Yucatecan cuisine.

Yucatán - Kibbeh Recipe star
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw an influx of Christian immigrants from the Middle East to the Yucatán Peninsula. Fleeing religious persecution under the Ottoman Empire, they brought traditional ingredients and dishes of their homelands which have been absorbed into Yucatecan cuisine.

Yucatán – Venison Salpicón Recipe star
The Maya hunted a small, red deer which they cooked with aromatic sauces boldly flavoured with chillies and often thickened with seeds or nuts – moles and pipianes. In modern times, domestication has enabled this species of venison to remain a traditional Yucatecan dish.

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