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Need help with Mexican dishes

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I've gotten pretty good at all the dinners I make except for Mexican dinners, they are my weak point. I was just wondering if I can get suggestions on really good spices, herbs, seasonings etc. to use with my dishes. I'm also open to recipes as well, I don't have that wide variety of Mexican dinners and I'm wanting to expand.


Thanks in advance

post #2 of 5

Buy or borrow a copy of any one of Rick Bayless's books, especially the earlier ones.  You'll get a very complete tutorial in an easy reading manner.  One of the best discussions I have ever seen on the difference between chile peppers is in a small book of his that focused on salsa.


... or Diana Kennedy.

post #3 of 5

Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen is an early book which has been reissued. It is a gem.


Good discussion of different chiles and several very useful and easy to make salsa recipes.  


I find Diana Kennedy fascinating and almost anthropological in her approach-but a little overwhelming if I just want to cook something.


In addition to a variety of fresh and dried chiles, some other common flavors/foods are:





White onions

Corn in various forms



Garlic (moderate amounts)

Chipotle in adobo

Chorizo (different than Spanish Chorizo)

Crema (sour cream)

Cotija (aged), Chihuaha (melting) and Fresco (crumbly white) cheeses

Mexican oregano (much different than European oregano)







An easy cheat if you have a Mexican market near you is Ancho Chile powder. It's more like flakes than an actual powder, at least the stuff I buy is. It also seems to have a bit of salt in it. It gives a nice jolt of chile flavor without the effort of roasting and grinding or soaking whole, dried chiles. There are also a wide variety of prepared Mole paste bases available. Even Rick Bayless uses some of these on his show occasionally.

post #4 of 5

Any books by Rick Bayless and/or Diane Kennedy will be very helpful.  Also there is a lot online so there is plenty of information out there.  Try focusing on regions other than northern Mexico, which is where many of the standard American "Mexican" dishes got their start.  Mexico has a great diversity of flavor profiles and we do the cuisine a disservice when we focus on the standard "Mexican" fare.  Look for recipes from Oxaca, Veracruz, and/or the Yucatan.

post #5 of 5

My Mexican is pretty limited, my two best shots are chicken enchiladas and chile verde, carnitas are so-so.  There's a restaurant here in Salt Lake, The Red Iquana, that makes killer moles.  I should work on making a mole amarillo chicken that has at least a hint of the flavor of theirs.  They were on "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" a while back and it was impressive to watch a batch of mole being made.



Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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