Mexican ingredients cupboard essentials
There is no doubt that fresh ingredients are amazing. They add colour, texture, and flavours to any dish. When talking about Mexican food, fresh ingredients are not always easy to come by. However, to achieve authentic real Mexican flavours, freshness is not always needed.
Some cupboard essentials such as dried chillies, tomatillos, jalapeños, chipotle peppers, ready-made salsas, tortillas, just to name a few, are staples of any Mexican kitchen. These ingredients and others can be the base or the star of most Mexican dishes and thankfully, they are all available for us living outside México.
Here are our top 5 of Mexican ingredients cupboard essentials:
1 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo - Chipotle in adobo is such a fantastic ingredient to have at home. Full of flavour and ready to use. Just a touch of it can transform many dishes, dressings, marinades and so on. Long-lasting and extremely versatile, a must in everyone’s kitchen. To enjoy authentically, Mexican made chipotles will allow you to tailor meals to your taste. Try our Chipotle Hotpot for a delicious recipe with chipotle as the star.
2 Seasonings - The easiest way to add flavour to any dish. Just sprinkle over to immediately season vegetables or proteins when a quick but delicious meal is needed. Perfect to add a Mexican twist to dressings or dips. Really, the fastest way to get the flavours of México in your meals. Try our easy Fish Taco recipe for an example of how to use our seasonings!
3 Pickled Jalapeños - A classic ingredient in any Mexican kitchen. On their own or finely diced and blended into guacamole or salsas. Perfect in a sandwich, pizzas or any dish that needs a little bit of zing. Another long-lasting ingredient that should be present in every home. Tip: Try Serrano Peppers for a step up from the classic jalapeño.
4 Beans - The most common side dish to most Mexican meals. There are many types of beans in Mexican gastronomy and even more ways to prepare them. The recipes vary from family to family and even between regions. Even though we can find them always freshly cooked back at home, the truth is that not everyone has time to prepare them or have them quickly ready when a sudden craving hits. The answer is to have a few of them stocked. All you need to do is to warm them up and have them on their own or as a side dish. With tortillas or tortilla chips. Have them as a delicious dip! Both, whole or refried, beans are always a hit. Have you tried Beans on Toast the Mexican way? Easy and delicious! Check our recipe here.
5 Salsas and sauces - Same as with beans, there’s no Mexican home that doesn’t have freshly made salsas in the fridge. Always ready to go with our meals. However, we also stock ready-made salsas! They are a quick and delicious way to add flavour, be used as a dip with tortilla chips or as a base for interesting dishes such as our Mexican Lasagna. There’s a huge variety of them but we highly recommend having a Salsa Verde and a Red Mexican Salsa at hand. As for sauces, who hasn’t heard of Valentina? This classic hot sauce will bring up the flavour of snacks and seafood. Just a few drops will make you fall in love with it.
The Gourmet Cupboard Essentials
If you are a foodie just like us and enjoy getting involved in the process of preparing your meals from zero or experimenting with new flavours and textures, then we have 6 gourmet cupboard essentials, Mexican ingredients edition. Having these products in your pantry will allow you to elevate your meals and provide an even more authentic experience overall.
1 Corn Tortillas - A constant in Mexican gastronomy. Corn tortillas are always present in Mexican homes. Hardly anyone makes them fresh. They are instead bought, freshly made, from tortillerias which luckily, we can also do in London now. One can never have too many of them. If you can, get them fresh, separate them into small packs and freeze for on-demand fresh tortillas. Check our guide on how to warm up tortillas to make the best of them.
2 Masa harina - Having good tortillas is essential to really enjoy Mexican dishes. A good tortilla provides a perfect vessel that won’t break, will stay pliable, healthy and full of flavour on every bite. When fresh tortillas are not available, masa harina is the best solution. Making tortillas with masa harina is not difficult. Even when it does require a little bit of practice, the more you make them, the easier it gets. Just masa harina, water and a bit of salt (optional) will provide you with fresh tortillas whenever needed. Tip: Having a tortilla press and a tortilla warmer are great tools to keep at home for easier handling of your fresh tortillas!
3 Tomatillos - A massively important ingredient in our cuisine. Fresh tomatillos are never easy to find outside México. Even when they are becoming a more common find, the best way to enjoy them at home is to keep a tin handy. They are incredibly easy to use and the flavour they pack can be the difference between a good salsa and a delicious one.
4 Dried Chillies - There are not enough words to describe how important dried chillies are in Mexican gastronomy. They provide depth and warmth to dishes and salsas. Their versatility is huge. There are many different types. Some of them simply dried, others smoked after drying. The range of flavours is just outstanding. Getting comfortable when using them can take a little time but it only gets easier with practice and overall, the result is a delicious journey. Having ancho, guajillo and de árbol chillies in your cupboard can only end in fantastic results.
5 Cactus - Often uncomprehended, even by Mexicans (especially kids), cactus or nopales are an important Mexican ingredient. Incredibly healthy and tasty. Almost impossible to find fresh outside Mexico. Having a jar at home will open up the doors to new flavours. Tip: rinse them in cold water and then pat dry. Use them in quesadillas, grill them and add them to tacos. Mix them in a pico de gallo salsa. They are really delicious!
6 Poblano peppers - Another very important ingredient in Mexican gastronomy. Not as easy to come by fresh which is why having a tin available is priceless. They are ready to use and you save a lot of preparation time too. Versatile and easy to use, you can add them to many dishes, blend them into sauces and salsas. An all-around fantastic ingredient. Check our recipe for Mexican Lasagna or Chipotle Hotpot for inspiration on how to use them.
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