One of the most popular types of ethnic foods to cook, serve, and eat at restaurants in the United States is Mexican food. Hailing from our neighbors south of the border, it is based on vegetable staples with a kick.
This cuisine is especially prevalent in states with a large Latino population, like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Some ways of cooking in this style are better than others, but making a delicious and authentic Mexican meal is a lot easier than one might think.
Many consider Mexican food to be somewhat of a melting pot of inspiration from other cultures and flavors. Ancient peoples of this area started with their own recipes and ingredients, but later added influences from other places like Europe, India, Spain, and even China.
Meat was hard to come by in the ancient lands that are now modern day Mexico; corn and beans were the main staple of the people of this area up until the Spaniards arrived. They utilized heavy spices and vegetables with a kick, like chiles, to enhance flavor and make meals more appetizing.
Areas that were close to the ocean relied on seafood as their main source of meat and protein; fish, shrimp, crustaceans, and other types of ocean creatures were hunted and cooked to add sustenance to meals. Along with the arrival of the Spaniards came an exciting array of new flavors, including garlic, cheese, chicken, onions, wheat, and many others.
These new food items were soon added into already established dishes to create some of the meals that we are familiar with today. One of the most prevalent items in Mexican food is the chile; all different types are used, from Serrano to jalapeno to chipotle.
When a cook adds these to a dish, it is meant to add a whole new flavor and spice to the ingredients. Mexican food itself does not use a whole lot of odd or unrecognizable things; it is mostly built on vegetables and flour that are mixed with spices and morphed into delicious dishes.
Beans are another vegetable that are used in and on top of dips and other items; these are full of fiber, and help to make the meal more filling. Both pinto and black beans are used, according to the type of dish and the personal taste of the chef and those that are being served.
Vegetables are an especially important staple to the creation of Mexican food. Corn is the basis for tortillas, as well as a number of other different items.
When corn is ground and mixed with liquids or fats, it can be flattened into a tortilla and cooked over a fire or stove. Tortillas are essential the main even of a Latin meal; they are the basis for the majority of dishes that have been created.
Corn is also included in a number of other things, like soups and salsas. Another important vegetable that you will find in most meals are tomatoes.
These are used to give flavor and add color or topping to burritos, tacos, tortas, and soups. Most of the time, the red color of sauces and meats is attributed to chiles; however, tomatoes are still used within different salsas and products.
Fats are another very important aspect in the creation of Mexican meals, especially lard. When mixed with ground corn, it creates masa or the shell that is placed in corn husks and used to surround meats for tamales.
Lard can also be used in refried beans and tortillas, giving a specific and delicious flavor. Because lard is a solid or saturated fat, it is not something that should be utilized in excess.
Unfortunately, though they are delicious, some aspects of Latin cuisine are less than healthy for you. Many choose to substitute lard for other things, like vegetable oil, when cooking certain dishes.
In ancient Mexico, people mostly cooked their goods over an open fire or oven. Today, most is done over a stove or grill, depending upon the type of meat or meal that one is cooking.
Some of the same techniques of old have been modified and used to maintain tradition. However, with the advancement of certain technologies, the process goes by quicker if stoves and grills are used.
Boiling and steaming can be used to get meat very tender and moist, especiall when making barbacoa. Steaming in this manner is a traditional method that is still utilized today.
When crushing corn, natives would use a molcajete or mortar and pestle. Some cooks, especially within the country of Mexico, still choose to grind their corn in this manner and maintain that it creates the best tortillas and masa.
Along with traditional flavors like chiles, other unusual spices are often added into the mix. This includes cocoa, which adds a warm flavor to mole, a sauce that is often poured over chicken.
Other spices include cinnamon, anise, and allspice, which are thrown into a number of different dishes to create surprising flavors. Mexican cooking can be a fun process whose end product is tasty creations; invite your family and friends to enjoy the fruits of your new found skill! BOLA TANGKAS