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The Ingredients You’ll Find In Traditional Mexican Food

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020
mexican food ingredients

The hearty warmth of authentic Mexican food is hard to beat! While this cuisine has regional variations, there are certain key ingredients that you’ll find in nearly any dish you try. These ingredients are the hallmarks of this regional style of cooking. 

Spices and herbs

The spices and seasonings that go into a traditional dish aren’t always spicy! There’s a full spectrum of savory, spicy, and sweet to choose from. Cumin, cayenne, and black pepper are popular seasonings used to give Mexican food its familiar zesty taste.

Cilantro also goes hand-in-hand with Mexican cuisine. For those who love the fresh, pungent scent and taste, cilantro is what defines the dish. 

Avocados

This rich, buttery fruit is a true Mexican staple. Avocado adds a Mexican flair to almost any dish, including such basics as sandwiches and salads.

Beans

Both black beans and pinto beans are go-to staples, depending on the dish and the preference of the chef. Each can be made into refried beans by buying them whole, soaking in a spice mixture, then mashing and refrying.

Cheeses

Made in Mexico, queso Oaxaca is a white cheese ideal for quesadillas. If your local Mexican market doesn’t carry it, substitute mozzarella. Queso fresco is a soft, crumbly cheese that adds a touch of saltiness to dishes like enchiladas. Mild Feta can be substituted for it.

Chipotles

Buy these smoke-dried jalapeños canned and they’ll last up to six months. (Transfer them to a jar after opening.) Used frequently for salsas and marinades, chipotles have a slight heat accompanied by a smoky flavor.

Mexican Chocolate

Mexican chocolate has a bitter, earthy flavor that pairs nicely with other ingredients in dishes as various as mousses and flans and spiced turkey breast and mole sauce. Nowadays it can be found in many large grocery stores and in Latin markets, but you can substitute semisweet chocolate plus a dash of cinnamon.

Crema

Basically a Mexican version of sour cream, crema can be used in hot or cold sauces, adding that last punch of bright, tangy flavor. It can bring flautas or tacos to the next level. In bigger cities, you’ll probably find crema in large supermarkets and Mexican grocery stores. If you can’t find it, sour cream can be substituted in any dish except a hot sauce (since heating sour cream can make it separate or curdle).

Limes

The humble lime is considered by some to be a Mexican cook’s most flavorful tool. It’s a must-have ingredient for finishing a dish—squeeze it on tacos, into salsa, and on just about anything that benefits from a bright, tart pop of flavor.

Oregano

This variety is a little more aggressive and savory than the herb that Americans are used to. It can be tracked down at specialty stores, most Mexican markets, and some well-stocked supermarkets. If you can’t find it, use regular oregano.

Poblanos

These mild chili peppers are prevalent in Mexican dishes, especially when roasted and peeled. (Once cut into strips, they’re called rajas.) They’re used in everything from salsas to quesadillas tochiles rellenos.

Tomatoes

Mexican cuisine incorporates a wide variety of sauces, many of them tomato-based. Buy the best tomatoes you can find in season.

These staple ingredients are most responsible for making traditional Mexican food dishes so wonderful. Whether you decide to stir-fry, deep fry or bake, Mexican cooking is a very enjoyable experience that we’re sure you will love, just like we do!

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Our specialty here at the Plaza Restaurant is to make delicious food for your whole family. Please check out our Locations so that you can find a restaurant near you. Be sure to have a look at our Menu to see the wide variety of options we have to offer you. The Plaza Restaurant has been serving our guests since 2001 from our family owned and operated business.