Consumption of food is the most primary need of all living entities, humans included. The art and science of food preparation is developed over thousands of years of human existence. All homogeneous communities in a geographical zone developed their own cuisine over the years. The cuisines essentially were product of local availability of ingredients, season, and ease of cooking. The cuisines also served the purpose of displaying or retaining ethnicity of a particular group. Mexican cuisine also underwent all cycles of development. Present day Mexican cuisine is fusion of indigenous form and influence of Spanish form. Ancient cuisine mainly consisted of corn, beans and chili pepper. Use of avocados, tomatoes, cocoa and vanilla was also made frequently. Onset of 16th century saw arrival of Spanish into Mexican heartland. Spanish and other European influence on Mexican cooking changed the cuisine canvas dramatically. Meat of domesticated animals was a major addition to Mexican kitchens. Herbs and spices to titillate the taste buds were surely to arrive with equal ease. The overall effect saw Mexican cuisine assimilate all cultures and ingredients too.
Three main varieties of cooking can be seen in Mexican foods. The first and the traditional one is home cooking particularly in rural areas. The other variety can be described as common factor between home cooking in urban environs and food available in eateries and restaurants. The third variety would include what is called in popular parlance, the appealing street food. Few grill recipes can show the distinct character of Mexican cuisine.
Grilled Portobello Quesadillas
This delicacy makes use of a dark mature cultivated mushroom called Portobello. A typical recipe book would have recipe with all finer details. Essentially, the ingredients are Portobello mushrooms, olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, typical spring onions known as scallions, cheese and tortillas which are thin flat pancakes made of maize.
Actual preparation consists of cleaning the mushroom caps and scraping the gills by knife. The mushrooms are brushed with olive oil on both sides and seasoned with salt and pepper. The grill fire is set at medium high range of 425 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grilling the Portobello with gill side up for about 3 minutes would show grill marks on one side. Flipping and continuing the grilling for next about 3 minutes until the mushrooms become tender. They are then thinly sliced.
A tortilla is put in a skillet on medium heat. Mushrooms, spring onions and cheese are sprinkled on the tortilla. Placing another tortilla on the top and pressing it with spatula, cooking the preparation for about 3 minutes, flipping and repeating the cooking until brown would complete the process. Transferring the preparation into a plate and cutting into wedges for serving finishes the cooking part. The Quesadillas are now ready to satiate the taste buds.
Literal meaning of ‘Carne Asada’ is grilled meat, more specifically grilled beef. The main ingredient of this delicacy is of course beef in the form of thin marinated steaks. Searing technique is used in the classic form of cuisine. Searing procedure involves cooking at elevated temperatures, until caramelized crust is formed. A charred flavor is imparted in the process to the beef. In some variants, the technique of browning or blackening of the sides of beef is also employed. Such imparted flavors have many foodies relishing it. Versatility of this delicacy can be gauged from the fact that, it can be served as main dish or even as an ingredient in numerous other dishes. Popular Mexican dishes as, burritos, gorditas, nachos, tacos and many other have Carne Asada as main ingredient.
The recipe of this delicacy is pretty simple. Marinated beef is available in markets. Else one can marinate at home to suit individual tastes. The marinating process can be simply applying salt or lemon or garlic. Use of wine or beer is also seen in few novel methods. Marinating process is followed by actual grilling. The grilling is carefully monitored in terms of time and temperature to get the exact flavor.
Carne Asada is accompanied by black beans, grilled onions, rice and Guacamole, which is avocado based dip. Pico de gallo or Chismol are the preferred toppings for Carne Asada. The toppings mentioned are essentially uncooked salad prepared from chopped tomatoes, onions, coriander leaves. Many other ingredients such as vinegar, lime juice, cucumber, radish or even mango in the toppings are proffered by food connoisseurs. The importance of Carne Asada can be appreciated in indigenous Mexican culture. The term is used as equivalent of a social event.
Grill recipes form an important chapter in Mexican cuisine. Even vegans also have something for them as seen in Portobello recipe. The true essence of Mexican food can be enjoyed with necessary ethnic trappings.