Mexican cooking - in Mexico
My wife and I are leaving next week for a 2 month stint in and around Mexico City. We will have use of a kitchen at least part of the time, so we plan on shopping in the markets and cooking while we are there.
I'd like to try to focus on making dishes that would be difficult to make here in the US due to lack of availability or quality of ingredients.
Any ideas? Thanks!
Bring your Diana Kennedy decoder ring.
Locate the Mercado San Juan and have a great time.
D.F. is such a spectacular food place!
Anyway, Mercado San Juan is the more upscale (in terms of quality) of the many fabulous mercados, at least when I was last there a couple years ago.
Mole paste from all over the country, top notch seafood (much that I was unfamiliar with, especially shellfish), produce and everything else sellers there, and a small stall selling Asian ingredients. Spectacular.
You can get huitlacoche that's not in a can!
One thing to watch out for: handling raw chicken.
Be serious about your kitchen hygiene. My friend got really sick through poor food handling. The chickens are delicious - just don't lick your fingers while you cook!
NOTE to APPLESISTER: we got verdolagas (aka purslane) at the Coop last summer.
I cooked very simple meals while I was in Oaxaca for four months, but I found it a nice way to really learn the flavor of ingredients I had never tasted before. You may have access to things in California that I can't get in NY, but these are the ingredients I miss most:
- the fabulous chicken (i've heard the bright yellow skin is from the chickens being fed marigolds)
- Mexican greens like quelites, quintoniles, verdolgas
- hoja santa (so good wrapped around quesillo and grilled)
- Oaxacan queso fresco and quesillo
- easy access to fresh, warm tortillas
Ingredient Sourcing.... Try Mercado La Merced, take the tour of Xochimilco's Chinampa farms (not the traditional Trajineras... but a tour led by one of the Slow Food members), the local Tianguis & Mercados in the Milpa Alta delegacion, also try to take a cooking class with Ricardo Munoz of Cafe Azul y Oro (he is a treasure trove of info on where to procure specialty ingredients) ... here is a link to the ballpark schedule of Mexico City's 555 mobile market locations: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/466445
Dish Ideas Using Seasonal & Regional Ingredients:
> Mixiotes made with real Agave paper
> The tail end of the trip will fall right in the heart of the Lent season so you will want to take advantage of things like Romeritos, Cuaresmeno Chiles (literally Lenten Chiles... a type of large Jalapeno), Crabs & Nopales... if you can find Fonda Poza Rica in the Colonia Tlanemex neighborhood of delegacion Tlanepantla) my favorite Lent dish is a Crab Cake and a Romerito Cake sauced in a thin Pasilla mole with griddled Nopales. My next favorite would be the Roasted Cuaresmeno stuffed with Crab and served with Tomatoe-Chipotle sauce.
> Mexican Seafood is generally superb.... I would focus on True Red Snapper, True Mojarra, Ceviche made from Sierra, tender, fresh Octopus, Dogfish.... these are quite inexpensive... also superb but more on the costly side would be the various types of Tuna, Marlin, Lobster etc.,
> Other ides... Wild Turkey, stuffed Round Calabacitas, Chaya, Green Favas, Rose Petal sauces, Golden Trout (Trout is very unappreciated here in the States and the unappealing state of melting carcasses in most Seafood Cases proves it),
Let me know if any of these sound good... I might be able to help you with recipes.
The food in D.F. is terrific - world-class. Try the street vendors for tacos and huarches. Be aware that most street food is cooked in lard.
Avocados are really good now. You should be able to find blackberries and strawberries in the mercado also. Oranges for fresh orange are usually knarlly looking. Ask for "naranja para jugo de naranja" and squeeze your own. The little key limes are called lemon agria. Lemons are called lemon real, if you can find them.
Of course, buy your tortillas at the mercado - about 5 pesos worth is more than enough for a meal for 2. Buy your meat in the mercado early in the day for the best selection. Must beef is sliced very thin. It is flavorful, but chewy.
The chicken is terrific. Raw the skin is almost a bright yellow so don't let that put you off. The rosticeried (sp) chickens are great for making chicken tacos or enchiladas.
In a large supermarket, such as Mega or Soriana's, you will find mole bars in the deli area. Mix the mole paste with broth or water to form a mole sauce. Very inexpensive so it is easy to experiment to find something that you like.
Pastries are generally a disappointment - look great, but taste like cardboard. El Globo is a Mexican chain of bakeries that started in D.F. about 100 years ago. Their pastries are really good. Also Trico is a really good specialty store and bakery.
Enjoy your trip and let us know how it turned out.
Oh, I just spent two weeks in Mazatlan where we rented a condo, had a wonderful kitchen and did lots of fun cooking.
The shrimp in Mazatlan were outstanding so that was the centerpiece alot of the time with fresh shrimp or fish tacos. Fresh tortillas by the kilo are so good, a full kilo rarely made the trip back to the kitchen.
I got to use a lot of regional specialites that my Mexican friends have talked about forever: chihuahua cheese in tamales, chorizo (we don't get the special fine grind one in Canada) for enchiladas, key limes in my margarita and such beautiful produce like tomatoes and avocados. And of course guacamaya sauce on everything.
Definitely stick with cooking Mexican and you'll have a great time. Have a great trip.
re: Spoony Bard
No, I didn't have a chance to take any classes but would have loved to. MazDee over on the Mexico board was really helpful, here is the thread.
I just had a fabulous time going to the mercado, getting lost on the buses and finding fabulous little local markets, tortilla makers with the giant old fashioned presses and gorgeous seafood from vendors with impeccably fresh fish in coolers on the side of the road.
I would definitely ask MazDee who seems to have the lowdown on all that is Mazatlan. Have a great summer.