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Mexican Street Food

Salsa Roja
This salsa, like many in Mexico uses the technique of griddle roasting, which is one of the most important in the Mexican kitchen. It is the secret of intense, developed favours in tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh chilies. Omitting this step, you will fail to concentrate the natural sugars of the ingredient, thus changing the flavour completely. Roasting is accomplished by direct contact with the hot surface of a heavy griddle or skillet.


  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 5 to 6 jalapenos peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small white onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup finely chopped white onion

Add the tomatoes and jalapenos to a non-stick or cast iron frying pan over medium high heat. Griddle roast vegetables until skins are blistered and blackened. Peel tomatoes over a bowl collecting any juice. Remove skin from chilies. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, juice, garlic, white onion quarters, chicken broth and salt to a blender; process until coarsely smooth. Transfer to bowl and mix in chopped cilantro and onions. Add salt to taste.

Caldo de Pollo (Chicken broth)


Rinse chicken well. Add to stockpot and add water or enough to cover. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove chicken and allow to cool down before using. Strain broth before using. Remove skin from chicken and hand shred meat for tinga.

Frijoles Negro (Black Beans)
Beans, whether pinto, red or black are an important staple on any Mexican plate. Making them at home is easy and simple. Make extra as it can be placed into a ziplock bag and kept frozen. Don’t use canned as most tinned refried beans have lard as an ingredient.


Place beans in a large pot and rinse well under cold water, removing any grit or small stones. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low and cook, partially covered for 25 minutes. Add salt. Continue to cook the beans adding hot water as necessary to keep them covered by at least 1 inch, for another 20 minutes. Test for doneness by eating a bean or two. If they are softened, remove from the heat; otherwise keep cooking until soft and tender, adding more hot water as necessary. Usually fresh dried beans will take about 50 to 60 minutes total cooking time whereas older beans will take up to 1 ½ hours.

In a saucepan, add the oil and heat over medium high heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic and jalapeno; sauté until onions are soft. Drain and remove half of the beans, and place into a blender, reserving cooking liquid. Add chicken broth, sautéed onion and jalapeno mixture and puree until smooth. Transfer to saucepan. Add remaining beans with enough cooking liquid to process until smooth. Transfer to pureed beans and mix together. If too thick, add more cooking liquid until desired consistency. It should be of a thick gravy consistency. Cover and keep warm until ready to use or keep refrigerated covered and warm up to use. These beans can be kept frozen in ziplock bags up to 2 months.

Tinga de Pollo
This is a shredded chicken dish spiked with a chipotle chili and tomato sauce. It is a wonderful topping for tostadas or sopes.


Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Add the tomatoes and roast, turning several times, until blackened on all sides. Remove and let sit until cool to touch. Working over a mixing bowl to catch any juice, peel off the black skin, cut and remove any seeds. Coarsely chop into large chunks and add to a food processor or blender. Add the chilies with the adobe sauce that clings to them and the chicken stock and process until smooth. This can be processed until coarse.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic and onions; sauté 2 to 3 minutes until soften. Add the tomato chili mixture, cumin and nutmeg and stir for 3 minutes to heat. Reduce heat to medium; add shredded chicken and simmer uncovered, until, most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

This can also be done with beef by simmering 1 ½ pounds of beef in water for about 4 hours. When tender, remove from water and allow to cool. Shred with two forks or pull apart with fingers. Make sauce as above and add shredded beef in place of chicken.

Sopes or Picadaso
These small shallow tart-like shells are made from masa harina, the ground corn flour that tortillas are made from. They are made with crimped edges to hold wonderful different fillings from shredded chicken to simple beans and cheese. The toppings are very similar to a tostada with shredded lettuce, onions, cheese and salsa, but the base is basically the only difference with the tostada being a crisp fried tortilla.


Mix together masa, water and salt in a bowl until a soft dough forms. Add in additional warm water by the tablespoon if the dough seems too dry. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the ingredients are well combined and the dough is softened, about 5 minutes. Cover with a damp tea towel and let sit for 10 minutes.

Use an ice cream scoop or by hand make small 2 to 3-inch balls, cover and set aside. Press with hands or a small plate or roll between parchment paper each ball one at a time to about 1/3-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet as they are done and cover with a damp cloth.

Lightly grease a griddle or large cast iron or non-stick skillet and heat over medium high heat. Place two of the prepared masa rounds on the hot griddle and cook for about 2 minutes, until the edges shrink away slightly and puff up from the pan and lose their raw look. Turn and cook the other side for another 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Transfer to a plate or work surface and while still hot, quickly pinch up the edges of each into a raised rim, like a small tart. Place them on a tea towel lined baking sheet and cover snugly with a towel.

In a small skillet or saucepan, heat ¼-inch depth of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add a sope and fry until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Alternatively, heat up a non stick skillet and grill until cooked through.

To Assemble the Sopes:

  • Frijoles Negro
  • Beef or Chicken Tinga
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Chopped white onion
  • Shredded Monterrey jack or cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa Roja

For each sopes, spread a couple of tablespoons of frijoles negro on the bottom of a warm sopes. Top with some tinga and garnish with lettuce, onion, cheese, sour cream and salsa.

Sopes Variations:

Bean and Cheese
Top each sopes with 2 tablespoons of frijoles, then add 1 to 2 tablespoons of shredded Jack cheese on top; Heat sopes under broiler until cheese starts to melt and bubble and brown. Top with crumbled feta cheese, lettuce, onion, sour cream and salsa.


  • 1 lb cooked shrimp
  • ½ English cucumber, ½-inch diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and ½-inch diced
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • ¼ cup white onion, finely chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, minced

Mix together. Spread sopes with frijoles negro and add seafood mixture on top. Garnish with sour cream and salsa. Serve immediately.

These are basically the same as Sopes but have a deep fried corn tortilla as a base instead of the softer and thicker sopes dough.



Rinse the dried chilies under cold running water and shake off excess. Heat a heavy griddle or cast iron pan over medium high heat. When hot, place the chilies on the griddle. Heat the chilies, turning occasionally with tongs, just until the water evaporates from them and they start to be fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Do not scorch or they will be bitter.

Place the Ancho chilies, tomatoes and water in a saucepan of boiling water; lower heat and simmer until chilies are soft and tender. In the meantime, heat the small dried chilies in a skillet and roast over medium high heat until roasted and fragrant; remove from heat. Drain the chilies and tomatoes, reserving cooking liquid, and remove stem from chilies. In a non-stick skillet, add the vegetable oil and heat over medium heat; when hot add the chopped onion and sauté until soft. Place both chilies, tomatoes, sautéed onions and garlic with ½ cup reserved liquid into a blender and process until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine sieve to remove tomato skins and chili seeds. Set aside.

  • One 796ml tin hominy corn
  • 10 cups cold water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds boneless pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
  • dried oregano

Rinse hominy corn well under cold water; drain. Place into a stockpot, add rest of ingredients except for lettuce and oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes or until pork and corn is tender. Stir in the reserved tomato chili mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle into warm soup bowls. Garnish with shredded lettuce and a sprinkle of oregano.

Arroz de Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)
Makes 6 servings


Bring 2 cups water to boil in a large heavy saucepan. Scrape half of the vanilla bean pulp into the water and add the pod. Add one cinnamon stick and one lime zest and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour in rice and let mix return to boil, stir once then cover and cook over medium low heat for 20 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated and the rice is tender. Fluff up to loose rice.

Stir in milk, sugar and salt. Scrape off pulp from remaining vanilla bean and add to rice mixture with the pod; add remaining cinnamon stick and lime zest. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid shows the first signs of thickening, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and remove the vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks and lime zest. Beat the egg yolks until runny, stir in the vanilla and a few tablespoons of the hot rice. , then stir the yolk mixture back into the rice mixture. Mix in half the raisins, then spoon the rice pudding into an 8-inch square baking dish.

Preheat the oven broiler. Dot the rice pudding with butter. Set the dish under the heat long enough to brown the top, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining raisins and the ground cinnamon. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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