I still have more to tell you about Mexican Food and Mexican Ingredients Part 3.
Mexican Ingredients Part 3 – Herbs, Spices, Recado and Tomatillos
Mexico absorbed Spanish influences when the continent was discovered and the world absorbed Mexican ingredients.
Mexican ingredients have been travelling across the world for centuries.
And because of that cuisine all over the world change forever.
You can find traces of Mexican food all over your kitchen; without Mexico, you wouldn’t have corn, squash, tomatoes, chillies, chocolate, beans or vanilla.
Among all the Mexican ingredients, herbs are one of the keys for what is known as the “Mexican flavour”.
Herbs are used in Mexican cuisine to add flavour to:
The ones used are peppermint, coriander, mint, peppermint, bay leaf, basil, thyme, parsley and oregano; all of them available in your nearest supermarket.
There are some other herbs that are hard to find if you don’t live in Mexico like:
- Hoja Santa or Momo
If you live in a hot country you can grow them in your garden from the seeds.
But if you live in countries with long winters you can also grow them in summer or all over the year in an inside garden in your house, preferably near your kitchen.
Another option you have is to find other herbs and spice to can use as a substitute, for example:
- Hoja santa – 1/8 teaspoon ground anise for 1 leaf of hoja santa.
- Epazote – 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds or star anise for 1 epazote sprig.
- Quelite – 1 leaf of baby spinach for 1 leaf of quelite
- Romerito – 1 sprig of purslane for 1 sprig of romerito
- Boldo – 1 leaf of bay leaf for 1 leaf of boldo
The Mexican cuisine use a variety of spices to flavour pretty much everything, from soups, stocks and marinades to desserts and drinks.
The most commonly use ones are:
- Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon
- Annise seeds and anise stars
- Black pepper seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Chilli Powder
- Vanilla extract
- Coriander seeds
The spices used are sweet and aromatic.
But what is best, that most of them are really easy to find in any market or supermarket.
Recado or Paste
Recado, also called paste, are a mixture of spices, herbs, chillies, citrus and vinegar.
They are used to marinate meat and fish like “cochinita pibil”.
However, they are also used to make soups like “escabeche”.
The 4 most famous are:
- Achiote recado or Achiote paste
- Beefsteak recado or Achiote paste
- Escabeche recado or Ascabeche paste
- Chilmole recado or Chilmole paste
Recado’s look like a mole, the main difference among them is that nuts are part of the ingredients to make mole.
Tomatillos, “tomates verdes” or green tomatoes are not unripe tomatoes.
They are related to the cape gooseberry with a tart and citrus flavour.
Tomatillos are used to make a popular Mexican salsa called “salsa verde” that literally means green salsa.
They are famous for its vivid green colour and it’s normally mixed with serrano chillies, onions, garlic, coriander and fresh lime.
You can make nice enchiladas and chilaquiles with it, or just add it to tacos, tortas, empanadas or slow-cooked meat.
Tomatillos are very hard to find unless you live in Mexico or Central America, but you still have some options.
Finding an online supplier is the easiest way to find them, the other option you have is to grow them in your garden (or inside garden).
Whenever you choose you will not regret, the tomatillos flavour can not be substitute with anything.
Other Mexican Ingredients
Mexican cuisine started with their own native flavours and ingredients and then eventually, after the Spanish conquer, added other ingredients, mainly from: Spain, Europe, India and China.
The native Mexicans soon merged these new ingredients into their own dishes to create what we know now as Mexican food.
Here you have a summarise list with other ingredients use in the Mexican cuisine:
- Diary Products
- Sour cream
- Crumbled cheese
- Fresh cheese
- String cheese
- Cheese “daisy”
- Edam cheese
- Pork Sausages
- Black pudding or blood sausage
- “Piloncillo” or Jaggery
- Agave Syrup
- Agua Miel
Do you like Mexican food? Tell us what you think about it.
Did you enjoy my previous articles? Mexican Food, the Basics to Start Eating Like a Mexican, Mexican Ingredients to Start Your Mexican Food Journey – Part 1 and Mexican Ingredients Part 2 – Your Mexican Food Journey.