Our first class on Mexican cooking focused on the Mayan cuisine of the Yucatán Peninsula.
The key ingredients of this region are corn, habanero chiles and tomatoes (gifts from Mexico to the world), citrus in the form of lime and bitter orange (a gift from Spain to Mexico) and meat, traditionally turkey, venison, wild pig and iguana, but for classroom purposes, chicken and pork. We were also introduced to some unique Mexican herbs and spices, such as achiote paste and Mexican oregano, along with potential substitutes.
The meal started with Sopa de Lima, a lime soup similar to tortilla soup but with a sour edge. The tangy broth was poured over shredded chicken, deep-fried tortilla strips and a thin slice of lime. (How we made it.)
This was followed by two appetizers: 1. Codzitos, tortillas that are rolled and deep-fried, then slathered with a tomato-based sauce and grated ‘queso de bolo’ (Edam cheese)
2. Salbutes, a bit complex to make, but well worth it! With one bite I was instantly transported back to the Yucatán without having any of the bother of airplanes. These tasty little treats start with homemade ‘tortillas’ that are topped with pulled chicken (marinated in bitter orange and achiote paste), lettuce, tomatoes, ‘pickled’ onions, avocados and jalapeños. (How we made them.)
The main course was Poc Chuc, boneless pork marinated in bitter orange, along with cebolla asada (red onions grilled until charred, then marinated in bitter orange and cilantro), a side dish of black beans (frijoles negros) and Chilmole, a tomato salsa.
What an easy way to travel to Mexico – now if only our miserable Vancouver weather would cooperate!
Chef Rossana, the instructor of my Mexican cooking course, is on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/MiMetate