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Jan 20, 2008 08:28 AM

Eat Nopal's Mexican Recipes

A consolidated thread for my recipes...

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  1. Salpicon - Its whats for dinner (well maybe lunch)

    In Mexican eateries throughout the U.S. when they have leftover Carne Deshebrada, Ranchera or En Su Jugo... well they just refrigerate it and serve it the next day, the same exact way.

    In Mexico they make Salpicon... a salad of cold meat "ceviche" with onions, herbs (cilantro, mint, oregano etc.,), chiles, umami / enhancers, and citrusy sweet vinaigrette. For every cook there is a version...

    > Chopped Meat, Shredded or Thinly Sliced? Or reheated & crisped as they do in Oaxaca?
    > Pineapple Vinegar (traditional, ubiquitous vinegar in Mexico often homemade), imported Sherry Vinegar (expensive) or Insitututional Cider (cheap)
    > Key Lime Juice, Seville Orange or Grapefruit?
    > Which herbs... Cilantro, Yerba Buena (Mexican mint), various Mexican "oregano", etc.,
    > Dried Arbol, Piquin or Cascabel chiles... or fresh Serrano, Habanero or Guero chiles?
    > Which common umami enhancer? Worcestire, Beef Bouilloun, Maggi (fermented wheat) or other condiment?
    > Lettuce... whole leaves, chopped, dressed or dry?

    Tonight's version (which turned out rather good)

    > Butter Lettuce with Root (this is the closest thing in the U.S. to the traditional Orejona lettuce grown in Mexico)... Whole Leaves... lightly dressed
    > Shredded Beef leftovers marinated in Key Lime juice, a few dashes of Worcestire & 1/4 tsp of Lawries, with chopped Cilantro, Mexican Oregano, thinly sliced white onions and Chile Arbol flecks to taste.
    > Vinaigrette... Sherry Vinegar (2 pts), Sicilian Olive Oil (1 pt), Valencia Orange juice (1pt)... salt & a few dashes of Worcestire

    Lay the dressed leaves on the center of a plate, spoon the marinated meat in the center of the leaves, sprinkle with chopped mint & a few very, very, very thinly sliced red onion rings.

    1. Aztec / Totonac Hot Chocolate

      For my lazy version I put 3 Cups of water in a sauce pan, along with 4 generous tablespoons of Vahlrona 100% Ground Cacao & 2 tablespoons of Mexican Vanilla. I brought to an almost boil then let it simmer for at least 15 minutes... to your desired thickness. You can also add a little bit of fresh masa dissolved in some water to help thicken it & for additional earthy & floral flavors. Once at the desired point I added about 1 tablespoon of floral honey... just enough to keep it from being too bitter (this is also entirely authentic).

      The Vanilla source does make a difference as you noted the intense floral aromas of the Mexican version versus the Bourbon Vanilla... the artisinal product can be purchased from Gourmet Sleuth & is a pretty good deal on a per ounce basis

      2 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        First, thanks to whoever resurrected this thread. :) Eat Nopal, can I get this Mexican vanilla at a Mexican grocery store in the Bay Area? There are tons of Mexican grocery stores where I live. Is it a product that is readily available?

        1. re: anzu

          I haven't seen it... but Gourmet Sleuth is actually in the South Bay... I imagine they might sell it into some of brick & mortars in the area as well... perhaps even a place like Penzey's might carry it. Here is a link to the actual product:

      2. Crab Chilpachole (Lazy Version Using Pre-Steamed King Crab Legs)

        > Roast 3 Morita Chiles (Dried Red Chipotles) by passing it over an open flame until you get a little bit of smoke & they begin to soften. Then place in a bowl with luke warm water & cover with foil for 30 minutes.

        > Char 1 1/2 pounds of Roma Tomatoes, 1/2 Onion, 1/2 Head of Garlic on a Grill (or you can explain your method we used when my grill ran out of Propane!). You want them to blacken on all sides & cook on the inside a bit.

        > Place the toasted Moritas, charred vegetables & a handful of Epazote leaves in a blender... add 1 cup of Crab Broth or Clam Juice & blend until its a smooth puree.

        > Head Oil or Lard in a pot until hot... then add the puree to sear it for 5-10 minutes (it will change color & thicken)... then adjust with Crab Broth/Clam Juice, Water & Salt until you get a good soupy consistency and simmer for 15-20 minutes. (As an option you can cobs of corn cut into thirds at this point)

        > At this point you add a couple of peeled & diced Chayotes & simmer for about 8 minutes.

        > Add your Crab Legs (making sure to cut them into sections with sharp scissors & also to cut enough incisions so that you can remove the meat... but not so many that the meat falls out of their shells)... simmer for about 3 minutes.

        Turn off & let it rest until its the right temperature to be served.

        1. Frijoles Charros

          It looks like there is no recipe... so I am posting the one I recently made:

          2 Cups Flor de Mayo, or Mayocoba beans (much more likely to be fresh than Pintos)

          2 Cups sliced Calabacitas aka Mexican Zucchini aka Courgettes

          2 Cups chopped Quelites or any tender wild green

          1/2 lbs Good Quality Chorizo (Not the commercially packed kind... but TJ's has a decent Chicken one)

          1/4 lbs Salt Pork or Pancetta or Thick Cut Bacon

          1 Yellow Onion

          1 Head Garlic

          Pickled Jalapenos & Pickling Juice


          1) Soak the beans overnight, rinse a couple of times... then add fresh water (about 3 inches above the bean line)

          2) Add the whole Onion with beans, bring them to a rapid boil, turn down the heat to a slow boil & cover, cook until tender (if you use the beans I indicate you can start checking them after 45 minutes)

          3) Dry roast the whole head of garlic in a grill until charred & soft... peel, mash & add to the bean pot

          4) Pan fry the Chorizo & Bacon until crispy & the fat is rendered.... remove from the pan, but save as much fat as you would like for sauteeing the calabacitas

          5) Sear the Calabacitas in the rendered fat... I like them to be browned & al dente at the same time

          6) When the beans are tender add the Chorizo & Bacon, salt to taste & simmer for about 20 minutes.

          7) Add the browned Calabacitas and simmer for any 2 to 5 minutes

          8) Add pickling juice & salt to balance out the flavors

          9) Add greens to a soup bowl... pour in the very hot soup let it cook the greens for a couple of minutes.... garnish with pickled jalpeno slices to taste.

          17 Replies
          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            That sounds delicious! A curious note: Here is Mazatlán the charro beans I have eaten have no greens, although they are always good anyway. I am told most cooks here put tuna in them! This is hard to believe, (I sure can't taste it) but has been reported to me several times, including by a Spanish teacher (upper middle class family) and the lady who cleans my house (who says she never does that). Ever heard of such a thing? I am definitely NOT going to try it myself, just curuious. The additions you made of calabaza and greens sound wonderful! Thanks for this thread. It is wonderful. Dee

            1. re: MazDee

              Hi Dee,

              No I have never heard of Tuna per se... but in more tradtional (i.e., indigenous) communities... things like dried shrimp, dried fish or fried charalitos etc., are common in soupy beans.

              With regards to Greens in Charros.... do you see Quelites for sale at the markets? The coasts might not provide much in the way of Greens.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                No, I have not seen anything called quelite, but there are a lot of different greens I have not tried. I usually just buy spinach and chard because I know what they are (not very adventuresome)! There is a small (and lovely) town called El Quelite in the munipality of Mazatlán, so that could be a clue. I will investigate.

                1. re: MazDee

                  Quelites are lambsquarters in English, but I've never seen them for sale, though I haven't frequented Mexican markets that much, so perhaps they are actually available. Anyhow, lambsquarters are easy to grow if you're so inclined, and if you let them go to seed, they'll reseed themselves for years.

                  Magentaspreen is a particularly pretty lambsquarters, with its splash of magenta:

                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                    FYI, lambsquarters are just one type of Quelite. Quelite is derived from the Nahautl word that just means Greens or Wild Greens... it includes just about any edible, typically wild green find in Mexico's various ecosystems including Amaranth greens and nowadays invasive species like Collards & Dandelion greens.

                    Because of its foraged nature... Quelites became unpopular among Urban populations who equated them with rural poverty & backwardness.... however recent trends towards healthy, natural foods, re-embracing the Mesoamerican culinary legacy, their popularity in high-end restaurants... they are making a comeback.... of course places in southern Mexico... quelites never stopped being relevant.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      I just asked a Mexican friend about quelites. There is a particular wild green that they call quelite around Mazatlan. No idea what variety of green it will turn out to be, but my friend promised to take me foraging for some when the rains come. She says they are delicious, so I am looking forward to the experience. Apparently, she and her family foraged them in an area of Mazatlan now occupied by Gigante and Home Depot. That is now in the middle of town! She says that occasionally she will find people from the country selling them at the market (but not at the regular stalls) during the rainy season.

                      1. re: MazDee

                        Welcome to Mexico! The vendors that typically sell Quelites along with things like Huitlacoche, Wild Mushrooms, Heirloom beans, unusual herbs etc., are what we call the "Marias" usually indigenous women that live in mountain villages... they are treated like crap by the establishment & forced to find some small out of the way spot near the market (sidewalks etc.,)... and usually carry just a basket or two of sublime goods, that are completely permeated by their soul, sweat & love.

                        RST is a legendary contributor to the Mexico & Chicago boards... who has written numerous mini homages to the Marias... you might want to search for his inspired posts.

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          EN, you have struck another tender chord, with your description of indigenous women in small villages selling huitlacoche from a basket on the sidewalk. My ladyfriend and I would always buy all they had, and their eyes would show their gratitude but life had so worn them out that they were hardly capable of a smile. I sometimes wondered what they do in the other seasons.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            The Marias are usually quite resourceful... embodiment of the term "hacer la lucha"... when they aren't foraging rainy season foods... its nopales, fire wood, chiles, tomate milpero, basket weaving, rabbit hunting, harvesting & sun drying fish hatchlings... you name it these weathered, hardy women find some way to feed their families.

                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Did a search and have been reading his posts, but can't find anything about the Marias. Am not good with the search function. But, thanks, he is really interesting! Is there a way to post a private reply to you, or should I do it here after my foraging adventure? I am not sure this would be interesting to others.

                            1. re: MazDee

                              Email me at ... I also invite you to check out my You Tube page link is on my Chow profile.

                        2. re: Eat_Nopal

                          Thanks for the clarification! I was told that lambsquarters were quelites and I made the mistake of thinking that's what quelites meant. I get it now.

                          Just curious, is there a different word to refer to lambsquarters specifically?

                2. re: Eat_Nopal

                  I have never seen frij. charros w/ greens. My (ex) abuela politica made them with white beans, probably navy, longaniza, salchicha (hot dog), and chiles chipotles. At the rancho en Jalisco. Soooo good but gnarly after effects- if you know what I mean. Mexicanos are so healthy partly due to the loads of fibre in the diet, no?

                  E_N, a question?: I bought 1/2 lb of mole negro and one of mole rojo at the mercado in downtown L.A. about a month ago. I imagine it's still good, but how to prepare tamales de mole negro? In banana leaves- that I have never done before. Is the masa the same? btw, at the central market they had mole verde, mole blanco, every type of mole I have never heard of before. En Jalisco, we only had mole dulce and mole rojo (spicy)

                  1. re: paso_gurl_100

                    Hey what part of Jalisco is your family from? My parents were both born in Los Altos... and in thsoe ports there is also only Mole Dulce & Mole Rojo / Ranchero. How do I put this gently? Well... food in Mexico gets better as you go South.... quality, variety, exoticness, appearance, complexity etc., The variety of Moles in Mexico is mind boggling... there are about 20 or 30 distinct genres (each characterized by their color & major taste characteristics ranging from Coconutty White.... to the Ash Mole Negro of Oaxaca... and everything in between)... and of course for each genre there is a cook's version with some twist.

                    Back to your question.... Mole Negro tamales... are not THAT different than Jalisco tamales... the masa is typically more tender, sometimes strained... .I would recommend going to 'Aqui es Oaxaca' in Mar Vista (West L.A.) to get your masa.... then the Banana Leaves need to get softened over an opened flame, cut to about 8 inch squares.... the masa is spread, topped with a few spoonfuls of chicken braised in the Mole (hydrated with broth & tomato puree) & tamales folded so that its kind of flat.... steamed similarly to others (I am not sure about exact time).... the Oaxacans at the bakery are very nice and will no doubt provide you with some pointers.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Teocaltiche, Jal. and the rancho de Belen del Refugio, ha ha! I am going to a Dodger game in May so I will check out Aqui es Oaxaca. I see what you are getting at about the food and going south. I never even SAW a mixtecos (Oaxacans?) I guess you would say, until I moved to Paso Robles and met the campesinos from the vineyards. What a rich culture, to say the least!

                    2. re: paso_gurl_100

                      Everybody has their own recipe for Charros... unfortunately Greens had a bad stigma between 1940 & 1990's.... only the Indians would eat them... but since they have become fashionable in Alta Cocina they are making a comeback.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        I understand completely. It's like the women not breast feeding for the same reason (my mom didn't). And today we find out it's nature's perfect food for baby. Charros are like gringo's potato salad, I guess...

                  2. Oaxacan Black Bean Paste / Sauce

                    Basic Ingredients:

                    Refried Black Beans
                    Fresh Epazote Leaves
                    Dried Avocado Leaves
                    Cilantro or Hoja Santa
                    Your Favorite Fat

                    I started with a 16oz can of La Costena Refried Black Beans (use Rosarita at your own risk). I spooned half into the blender, added 5 leaves of lightly fried Epazote (to temper the flavor), 4 Avocado leaves pulverized between my fingers (through away the "vein" & twigs), a little bit of Olive Oil to thin out the beans.... puree, add the other half of the beans, salt & any water required, pulse a few times until the texture is almost right... add Cilantro or Hoja Santa, pulse a couple more times.... you are now done.

                    What to do? Many applications....

                    1) Chip Dip
                    2) Spread on Tortillas, Memelas, Tlayudas, Bolillos etc.,
                    3) Thin it out a little more for Soup
                    4) Sauce for Enchiladas, Steaks or Grilled Poultry