February 18, 2013

Mexican Cooking 101...

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I love to cook. I'm gradually trying to overcome my fear of baking, but cooking is where my heart will always be and stay. As an expat, I've tried to broaden my recipe repertoire and use the spices and local ingredients available in my food. Since I am absolutely in love with Mexican food (not Tex-mex which I love too), I knew I had to overcome my fear of chilis, peppers, and the stovetop grill. So when my friend, Maria, offered to come over and make chili rellenos with me,
I was elated! Here was my chance to make true Mexican food the real way! Yippy!

Maria decided I should be her sous chef. Good call. Seth was the photographer so we wouldn't miss anything while I was sousing. Little did I know that being a sous chef entailed shredding all the oaxaca (wah-hak-kah) cheese which is tedious and takes forever. Sneaky, Maria. Sneaky.
First, you take your poblano peppers and grill them on the stove until they turn black. Then, you have to put them in a covered dish to let them sweat. Finally, you peal off the outside layer. Luckily, Maria took this on for me. I've done it before, but taking off that skin is kinda a pain so I was completely ok with her doing the peeling. I just kept to my cheese like a good sous chef.

After all the skin is taken off, that cheese I painstakingly shredded is stuffed inside. Maria's so serious about her stuffing because the peppers are so delicate, and you need them to stay intact. I actively watched her like a good assistant is supposed to do. I think I'm good at this sous thing.

Then, Maria informs me that next I need to whip the egg whites for the batter. No problem. Oh, wait. My mixer broke the other day. That stinks. So then I begin my next task...whipping egg white by hand until a stiff peak. Oh geesh! How we become dependent on modern technology.
...Still whipping. God, my arms hurt!
Voila! Stiff peaks.
There's the serious look again. She let me do the dipping. I think I did ok, but I do have to admit I was a little nervous that I was going to tear the chilis, and it would all come gooeying out later.

Voila! Chili rellenos in the pain.
Then, we had to make the salsa rojo (red salsa) for the top of the chilis and to also use in our arroz rojo (red rice). This was the easy part. I got to sit back and watch Maria do her magic. And rest my arms, of course. Being a sous chef is not for the dainty, ya know.

With some of our poblanos that we had cooked earlier, Maria made a creamy poblano dish. I can't remember the name of it, but just know it was good. I love the play by play shots Seth did for me. Poblanos, onions, corn, cream...all the makings for a fantastic and simple dish. I yummed on this the next day for breakfast. Yeah, I know that's weird, but it was that good.

...There she's smiling...but then peeling of the lid on the creama isn't so stressful.

Mexicans in our area are notorious for having specific ingredients from their home towns that are not available in Playa. I don't think a day goes by that I don't hear, "Oh, this cheese is from Guadalajara" or "You can't get these chilis here. I bring the back from Puebla." I'd say that Maria and her sister, Martha (I used to live next door to her), are the worst culprits of this! Every awesome ingredient that they use seems to come from Guadalajara or from their mother's garden. It kills me every time because usually the ingredients really are pretty dang good.

And I'm sure you guessed it. These tortillas are from Guadalajara. And, no, I can't get them here. And, yes, they were really good. Perfect, in fact. Again. I CAN'T GET THEM. Irritating, huh?
Lunch is served! All that shredding and whipping and concentrating paid off because I gobbled down my whole plate like I'd just ran a marathon. Being a sous chef wore me out. Nap time!

1 comment:

  1. I'm from Guadalajara too! Cream, bread, cheese and beans, the taste is so different... soo good! Your chiles rellenos looks so tasy... yum!