Authentic Mexican Cuisine: More Than Just Tacos

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When most Americans think of Mexican food, they think of tacos and burritos. But there is more to Mexican cuisine than just the usual fare. To help you expand your palate, here is a sampling of different dishes from two regions that you might want to try the next time that you visit an authentic Mexican restaurant.

Oaxacan Cuisine

Located in southern Mexico, Oaxaca uses corn, beans, and chile peppers like the rest of the country, but they also rely heavily on chocolate, both as a beverage and in their seven different mole sauces.

A tlayuda is like an Oaxacan pizza. It is made on a very large flour tortilla and has a "sauce" of refried beans. It is then topped with some kind of meat, like chorizo sausage or chicken tinga, which is chicken simmered in a tomato and chile sauce. Avocado and Oaxaca cheese, similar to mozzarella, are the final toppings.

Mole negro con pollo is chicken simmered in a black mole sauce. This rich, dark sauce is deeply flavored. It requires dozens of ingredients to make this authentic Oaxacan sauce. Several varieties of roasted chiles are used, along with raisins, ground almonds, pecans, peanuts, sesame seeds, and pepitas, which are raw pumpkin seeds. Onions, garlic, tomatillos, plantain (a starchy member of the banana family), cinnamon, allspice, clove, and dark chocolate complete this spicy, smooth sauce. The result is a sauce with a complex flavor profile.

Yucatán Cuisine

Food from the Yucatán peninsula is quite different than the rest of the country. Caribbean, French, and Middle Eastern influences are seen in the heavily Mayan-based food. Yucatecan cuisine differs because the area is geographically isolated from the rest of Mexico. Two popular sauces are achiote, made from ground annatto seeds, which have a peppery, nutmeg flavor, and pipian, which is made from the ground seeds of squash or pumpkin.

Fresh seafood and fish dishes are popular given their location on the Gulf of Mexico. Pescado tikin-xic is a fresh grouper fish, rubbed with achiote paste, topped with sour oranges, wrapped in banana leaves, and baked in an earth oven or grilled.

Turkey and Muscovy duck are also extremely prevalent in Yucatecan cuisine. Sopa de lima is a flavorful soup that is considered a panacea for whatever ails you, much like chicken noodle soup is used as a home remedy for colds in North America. Shredded turkey meat, celery, carrots, garlic, and onions are simmered with coriander seeds in turkey broth. The finished soup is then topped with avocado, tortilla strips, jalapenos, and abundant lime wedges.

Rather than order your usual favorite the next time you go out for Mexican food, explore the menu and try one of the different regional dishes their menu offers. 

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28 November 2015

Choosing A Better Menu For Your Restaurant

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