Mexican Cupboard Essentials
Ever wondered what’s inside a Mexican cupboard? When we talk about Mexican essentials, we can go into deep details about it! Trust us, we come from the land of tortillas and homemade salsas. However, upon moving to England, our options are reduced but not so much if you know where and what to look for. We might not have the option to buy fresh tomatillos or mango year round but we do have the option to stock on basic ingredients that will go a long way and will help to add a delicious Mexican twist to our meals.
Here are some examples of it:
- Chipotles in Adobo They are one of the most versatile ingredients you can keep in your cupboard. They are not only used in Mexican food, they are often used in the elaboration of Greek food, as a base of barbecue sauces and much more. Chipotles in adobo are jalapeño peppers that have been dried, smoked and then preserved in a delicious sauce. Their smoky flavour makes them such a great ingredient to add intense flavour to food. Chipotles are hot but by mixing them with cream or mayonnaise their heat level goes down without completely disappearing but the flavour will stay. These are just some of the recipes you can make with this fantastic ingredient:
- Pickled Jalapenos Being whole or sliced, jalapenos are always present in Mexican homes. They are pickled with onions and carrots and they are used for everything! They are always present in sandwiches, burgers, salads, nachos or simply at the table to nibble while enjoying a meal. The carrots and onions are absolutely delicious too! Pickled jalapenos are medium-hot and add more flavour than heat to meals, however, for people wanting more heat and a slightly different flavour, the answer is the amazing Serrano Pepper. This pepper is smaller in size than the jalapeno but packs a lot more heat with a delicious citrusy flavour. Here are some of the meals you can prepare with jalapenos or serrano peppers:
- Cilantro-Lime & Serrano Chicken
- Cauliflower Aguachile
- Picante Guacamole
- Puff Pastry Sausage Cups
- Salsa Verde or Green Salsa Even when homemade salsas are the way to go in México, the truth is that we always keep our favourite store-bought salsas in our cupboard. They will usually be salsa verde made with tomatillos and jalapenos or Salsa Mexicana made with tomatoes and jalapeno for everyday use. These salsas are medium-hot and pack a lot of flavours. They are just so delicious and easy to pour over everything. Sometimes, when we want stronger flavours and heat, we go for the Salsa Arriera which is made with tomatillo and de Arbol chilli or Ranchera Salsa which goes perfectly well with pork. These salsas are perfect over tacos, eggs or to be used as marinades. They can also be used to make enchiladas without the fuzz! Here are some examples of what you can make with them:
- Huevos Rancheros
- Potato Hash
- Enchiladas Verdes
- Tamal Cupcakes
- Salsa Valentina At this point, it’s no secret that Mexicans love salsas. There are many different styles, consistencies and flavours that make each salsa ideal for some dishes than others. Such is the case of our beloved Valentina Sauce. Made with dried chillies, it has the right level of heat and a lemon hint that makes it perfect to pour over snacks, fruit, soups and seafood. We don’t discriminate, we could pour it over everything but its magic really shines through snacks and fresh food.
- Beans are an important part of our diet. Similar to salsas, there will always be homemade beans in Mexican homes, however, we would always keep cans of ready to eat beans just in case. The most popular beans in México are the Refried Pinto Beans these are made in the traditional Mexican way by frying them with pork lard. Lots of flavours and a delicious creamy consistency there! Some people would prefer the Refried Black Beans which are made in the same traditional way as the Pinto Beans. Thanks to their creamy consistency, they are used as a dip, as a side dish or as a spread in tacos or tortas (Mexican sandwich). We also have a deep love for whole Pinto or Black beans. These are delicious with a little bit of heat thanks to the jalapeno they are cooked with. They are the perfect vegetarian option too! Here are some ideas for beans:
- Poblano Pepper with Mozzarella and Black Beans
- Pinto Beans and Chipotle Hummus
- Tomatillos are beloved by Mexicans. They are the base for many salsas, sauces and dishes. Its tangy flavour blends perfectly well with chillies making a delicious pair that everybody loves. When fresh tomatillos are difficult to come by, the next best option is to get good quality tinned tomatillos. They have been cooked and preserved. However, when handled with care, they can be even grilled to add even more depth to salsas. Find more about Tomatillos here.
- Mole is possibly the most famous Mexican sauce for a good reason. Made with many different ingredients, going from dried chillies, toasted nuts, spices and chocolate. The result is a very complex and elegant sauce at the same time with a hint of heat and sweetness making it exquisite. Making mole from scratch can take days, this is why you will always find ready to use mole on every Mexican cupboard. There are many different ones to choose from but the best ones are the ones in paste form that you can dilute with water or stock to the desired consistency. Traditionally, mole is served over turkey with sesame seeds on top, however, mole is delicious with vegetables or chicken. To make chilaquiles, enchiladas and even crepes! Find out how to make something different here:
- Crepas de Mole
- Corn Flour A basic ingredient to have at home. There’s nothing that can compare to freshly made corn tortillas and this is the ingredient to make them. Tortillas are the backbone of Mexican cuisine. Making tortillas from scratch can seem difficult the first times but it gets easier every time. There are many corn flour brands but only a few of them are GMO-free such as Minsa. Corn flour is naturally Gluten Free which makes it a fantastic ingredient for health reasons. To make fresh tortillas all you need is warm water and that’s it! Some people will add a pinch of salt to the mix but it’s not necessary. There are many different products that can be made with cornflour, sopes, tamales and much more is possible with this humble ingredient.
- Dried Chillies are the hidden gem of Mexican cuisine. They add heat and a lot of complex flavours to dishes, sauces and salsas. They can be rehydrated and then pureed, they can be toasted or fried, crushed and used as chilli flakes or even filled up to make delicious dishes. There are a huge variety of dried chillies but if we have to choose three of them, they would be Ancho Pepper, Guajillo Peppers and De Abol Chilli. Here are some of the recipes you can create with dried chillies:
- Birria de Res
- Enchiladas Rojas
- Pasilla de Oaxaca Salsa Even when we don’t include Pasilla de Oaxaca on our top three, this is a good article to see how to use dried chillies to make a salsa.
- Stuffed Ancho Pepper
- Salsa Macha