Get to know Mexican cuisine
Guaranteed to impress amigos at your next fiesta
What food is Mexican?
Mexico boasts a rich tapestry of a national menu, stretching way beyond big hitters like burritos, tacos and quesadillas. The cuisine is enjoyed all over the world and hailed for its colourful array of flavours and tastes. But to understand what’s behind Mexico’s massive popularity, let’s have a quick leaf through the history books…
Traditional and authentic Mexican food
Mexican food is so unique because it’s a combination of lots of different cultures. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in what was then the Aztec empire, circa 1519, pre-Hispanic societies were already thriving in South America, all with their own ideologies, beliefs and tastes.
It was these indigenous civilisations that started using corn and maize in their cooking – still used today to make the tortillas and tamales we all know and love. The invading Spanish and Portuguese brought with them meats from domesticated livestock, like cows and sheep; the dairy products those animals produced, plus a range of sugars and oils. And if you muddle all that together over a few hundred years, you get what is now known as Mexican cuisine.
Is Mexican food spicy?
Although a lot of Mexican dishes are made with chilli peppers, it wouldn’t be right to suggest all Mexican food is muy calour. A lot of dishes have more subtle tastes, especially when accompanied by mild sides. If you prefer your food at the bottom end of the Scoville scale – but still want to get involved with Mexican dining – consider the likes of fish tacos, beef picadillo, refried beans, or steak fajitas, with some tortilla chips and homemade guac to start. And if you’ve got room for sweet, look on the menu for churros – essentially straight doughnuts – deep-fried and sprinkled with cinnamon dust.
How to roll a Mexican burrito
There’s a true art to rolling and folding the perfect burrito. It can take a bit of practice, but after a few goes, you should have a tightly packed, even wrap, with no fillings escaping out the sides.
Here’s a step-by-step on how to achieve just that:
- Warm a large tortilla to make it more pliable – just pop it in the microwave for 10 secs, or you can gently warm it over a gas hob for 30 secs, turning constantly.
- Place all your fillings directly in the middle, so they extend from left to right, not from top to bottom.
- Start by folding in the sides, over your ingredients, and then rolling the bottom half (the side closest to you) of the wrap up and over everything.
- Then, you need to fold both top corners in, locking all the fillings inside, and continue the roll, until you have a neat, closed parcel.
- Finally, heat the outside to seal. You can do this in a medium-hot pan glazed with butter or a tiny bit of oil, or you could put the whole thing in the air fryer for a couple of minutes.
Slice in half, and enjoy – careful, it might be hot.
What rice is used in Mexican food?
Rice is grown across Mexico, however, there’s a lot of import to keep up with demand. Most often, long-grain white basmati is used in dishes, mixed with the likes of onion, garlic, tomatoes, coriander and stock. If you don’t want the hassle of making your own, we have ready-to-heat pouches of Spicy Mexican rice, bringing together hot chilli, sweet tomato, and smoky paprika for ultimate taste and convenience.
Now the rice is taken care of, you’ll probably need some protein to accompany it. Thankfully Mexico has a lot to offer. We know everyone loves a burrito bowl or a stuffed taco (us included), but if you’re interested in trying something new, here are five of our favourites, straying ever so slightly off the beaten track.
This easy-going Mexican breakfast literally translates to ranch eggs. It consists of a fried egg, black beans, crumbled feta cheese, sliced avocado, and a drizzle of hot sauce – all atop a tortilla wrap. A squeeze of lime juice to serve can add a little extra zest.
Pan de muertos
Pan de muertos are sweet buns, topped with crossed bones of rolled dough or a teardrop shape. They’re traditionally baked in the run-up to Día de los Muertos, celebrated in Mexico, 1 – 2 November.
If you’ve seen Disney’s Coco, you’ll already know all about Día de los Muertos. But for the uninitiated, the Day of the Dead celebrates the lives of passed family members. It’s thought that if photos and heirlooms are placed on small altars (called ofrendas), the remembered souls may visit their families from beyond the grave for one day and night.
The translation is quite simply stuffed peppers. Roasted poblano peppers are filled with cheese (shredded or cubed), dipped in a bowl of fluffy egg batter and fried. They can be served with a red or green salsa for dipping. And a top tip when shopping for your peppers… the bigger the better – more room for more cheese.
Molé Poblano is the official dish of Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France at the 1862 Battle of Puebla. It’s celebrated in Mexico and in lots of places in North America on 5 May. The dish’s main ingredient is either chicken, duck or quail, topped with a dark, complex spicy sauce of garlic, raisins, ancho chillies and pasilla chillies. It’s served with a side of fluffy rice and beans and traditionally topped with sesame seeds.
This classic, crispy street food is enjoyed across the country, served in a folded and deep-fried tortilla. They most often contain shredded chicken, chorizo or refried beans as the main ingredient, joined by the likes of cheese, salsa or lettuce. Try today, thank us later.
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