Tag Archives: Cilantro

Yucatecan classico: Cochinita pibil

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I’ve had a continual craving for pibil–the classic southern Mexican pork (cochinita) or chicken (pollo) dish of braised meat wrapped in banana leaf–ever since I was introduced to the chicken variety in a town outside of Chichen Itza, Yucatán, two Novembers ago.

There’s a satisfactory version on the menu at Taco Mesa, and Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly’s editor, says Conde Cakes in SanTana carries Yucatecan cuisine, but I’ve been cooking a variety of Mexican dishes at home lately and wanted to end the run on a high note. It’s a 27-hour wait from start to finish, and you’ll be left with orange, achiote-stained hands, but making the dish yourself leaves you with a happy belly and a true appreciation for this classic Mexican dish.

Read the full how to over at OC Weekly’s Stick a Fork In It blog.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican Fiesta, Part 7—Shrimp fried Mexican rice

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This is the last post of my “Stretching your pesos” series, which I essentially wrote because I made too much chicken for Nadia’s cousins and I had to figure out what to do with it.

On a small scale, the series taught me to use my leftovers to their full extent. And that’s important to do, considering people in this world are starving while Americans waste 33 million tons of food annually, according to NPR.

I only had a few shrimp, some Mexican rice and pickled red onion in the fridge by the end of this experiment, and I wanted to mix it up a bit, so I took inspiration from Orange County’s Dos Chinos food truck which fuses Asian and Mexican cuisines.

Enter: Shrimp fried Mexican rice.

I found the blueprint at Epicurious:

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup leftover pork, chicken, or beef, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed (plus any leftover vegetables you have on hand)
  • 4 cups cold cooked white or brown rice (In this case Mexican rice, recipe here)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The recipe makes four servings, but here’s a couple of ways to make it a little healthier if you aren’t using leftovers like I was: Use 2-3 cups of rice, so each person has less than 1 cup, with 1/2 cup per person being the target–and go brown rice; use low-sodium soy sauce. You can also reduce the oil, but this rice does need to crisp and you’re at less than 1 T per person. Try using 2 T, and add a tablespoon if necessary.

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Follow the link above for the full step by step, but the method is fairly simple and the result far less greasy than any box of takeout I’ve ever brought home.

You start by cooking the egg and the scallions with some of the oil. Then the meat and veggies get tossed in the pan and scrambled around. The rest of the oil goes in to crisp up the rice and you wrap it up by adding a mixture of soy sauce and water to flavor the rice.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime, and dig in.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican Fiesta, Part 6—Oregano-lime shrimp salad with jicama and corn

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If you’ve been following along with our improvised Mexican menu, you’ll be happy to know we’re coming to the end of our south-of-the-border marathon. I’m happy to say I used nearly every last component in my fridge until there was nothing left–therefore maximizing the dollars I spent to throw a small family party.

I had a bunch of iceberg lettuce and an ear of corn in the fridge, plus shrimp left in the freezer. With these ingredients I figured there was a salad to be made. The only thing I needed was jicama from the store and it was go time.

For the shrimp: I used 5 large shrimp per person. To season them, marinate the seafood in the juice of 1 lime, salt, 1 clove of garlic, minced, and 2 T of Mexican oregano. Sautee the shrimp in a pan over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, until they turn from translucent to white.

For the salad veggies: Shred the lettuce, cut the jicama into strips and cut the corn from the cob. You can eat the corn raw, or bring a pot of water to a boil, turn off the heat, and bring the corn to temperature in the pot–with the cover on–for about 5 minutes.

To finish: Toss the shrimp and veggies together with a dash of salt and a good squirt of lime juice. That’s your dressing. Plate each salad and garnish with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of cotija cheese.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican fiesta, Part 4—Chicken quesadilla with black beans and pickled red onion

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If a quick meal is what you need, look no further than the versatile quesadilla. The quesadillas of my youth were nuked in the microwave and made with Mission flour rounds filled with a couple of Kraft singles. Not healthy and totally uninspired–a sad meal for my 10-year-old self.

My grown up tastes have led me to greener pastures, quesadilla-wise. I’ve found pure bliss in wonderfully-gooey Oaxaca cheese, salty cotija crumbles and the acerbic bite of pickled jalapenos.

To make the quesadilla at top, use 1 uncooked flour tortilla (about 140 calories; less fake/processed ingredients) and 1.5-2 oz. of Oaxaca (Mexican white) or cheddar cheese. The chicken from our chicken tostadas (recipe) makes a flavorful addition to the meal, and I always throw a handful of pickled jalapenos into the mix.

Click here to learn how our friend Gustavo Arellano of OC Weekly cooks up a proper quesadilla.

I chose to add black beans (recipe) and pickled red onions (recipe) because extra ‘good stuff’ never hurt–especially the addition of the black beans, which really turn this snack into a fiber-filled meal. Finish with some chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of cotija and a spritz of lime juice to round out the flavors of the dish, if you happen to have those items on hand.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican fiesta, Part 3—Poached shrimp and cotija-lime corn

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We wanted to add some variety to our list of Mexican leftover meals so I picked up a couple pounds of shrimp at the market to throw in the mix.

I knew I wanted to use the reserved braising liquid from when I made chicken tostadas to poach the shrimp in, and later reduce into a sauce to finish the dish. As always, devein your shrimp if they need it. Better yet, buy your shrimp from a place that will do it for you.

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I turned the braising liquid into a poaching liquid by straining it and adding the juice of 1/2 a lime, plus black pepper, garlic and bay leaf. To poach the shrimp in the liquid, bring it to a boil, reduce to medium and toss in the shrimp.

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Start the reduction by adding a cup of the braising liquid to another pan and cook over medium-high until nearly all of the liquid is gone and the reduction lightly coats the back of a spoon.

Time the reduction and the shrimp so they come to temperature about the same time.

When you plate the shrimp, arrange in a row and add just a drizzle of the reduction across the shrimp. You’ll need to add a spritz of lime to the mix to balance all the salt that was concentrated when you reduced the braising liquid.

For the corn: Use a pot with a lid that is large enough to hold the amount of corn you want to use. I used 1/2 ear per person. To cook the corn, bring enough water to cover the corn to a boil, then remove from the heat, add the corn to the pot and cover for at least 5 minutes. That’s it. Add a light coating of butter or sour cream, cotija cheese and cilantro.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican fiesta, Part 2—Rice bowl with braised chicken and pickled red onion

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My main problem with restaurant rice bowls is the amount of rice they use. I’ve flipped out a rice bowl from Flame Broiler before and counted full 2 cups of rice. That’s 400 calories of non-nutritious filler before you even get to the stuff on top.

A better serving of rice is 1/2 cup, which will leave you with enough grains to feel substantial without drowning the dish in carbs. With less rice in the mix, you can fill up the bowl with better ingredients including lean meats and veggies. Brown rice would be best, but I’m still working on giving up white rice and pasta, which is hard for me anyway, because I don’t eat much of either so I think

Here’s a recipe that will leave you with four rice bowls:

Make the rice, Chef Brian’s version: Saute 1/2 onion, small diced, adding 1/2 t ground cumin and 1/2 t ground coriander. Add 1 cup of rice and mix well. Use a ratio of just under 2 cups of liquid (chicken stock or water), subbing in 2/3 cup of the amount of water with tomato sauce–preferably El Pato brand, which has some good spice to it. Throw some frozen peas and carrots in too if you’d like.

Bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, pickle the onion: Slice 1/2 red onion into thin slices and coat with a healthy pinch of salt and the juice of 3/4 of a lime. Give it a few stirs within the 20 minutes the rice cooks and by the time that’s ready, so will the onions.

Prepare the chicken (recipe here): Instead of shredding the chicken as we did for tostadas, cut the meat into larger chunks. Use 1/2 chicken breast for every serving–2 breasts total. Warm the chicken in a pan with a little cooking spray, 1 can of black beans, drained, and 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels.

Assemble the bowl: When the mix is warm, add it to the rice and scoop into bowls for serving. Garnish with the pickled onion, a sprinkle of cotija cheese, cilantro and a squirt of lime from the remaining 1/4 you saved.

Up next: Poached shrimp with cotija-lime corn!

Enfrijoladas locas!!!

My buddy Dave introduced me to enfrijoladas recently at a Santa Ana restaurant called Potzol den Cano and I have a continual craving for this dish, which is essentially enchiladas, but with bean sauce. It’s possibly the best way to use beans ever.

Wifey Nadia hates enchiladas because she’s not down with the red sauce (which I think is crazy), but she was in love with these because the black beans go so well with chorizo and shredded chicken. Keep reading for the how-to. Continue reading Enfrijoladas locas!!!

Week 31, Meal 3: The fiesta bowl

When I first started this blog, cooking was one of the worst ‘chores’ I had to do. I always felt like it was such a pain in the ass to cook my own meals everyday, so instead, I would hit the drive-thru.

It’s hard sometimes not to get bored or tired of cooking at home–I definitely do that in cycles– but Week 31, Meal 3: Salsa verde soup reminded me why I love to cook.

Toasting the coriander, tearing the husks from the tomatillos and that “a-ha” moment when the salsa verde broth came together revived my senses. Leave in the seeds when you chop up the chiles for a spicier broth.

And about that  bowl of soup? Better and fresher than I could have found in South Orange County at 9 p.m., that’s for sure. Keep reading for the recipe and how-to. Continue reading Week 31, Meal 3: The fiesta bowl

Week 30, Meal 1: Mean green enchiladas

She’s gonna get pissed when I write this, but oh well. Wifey Nadia has some weird hang-ups about her Mexican food. She hates enchiladas because of the red sauce and can’t stand fajitas because of the seasoning. Both dishes are delicious to me, so her disdain for them baffles me.

She had a small panic attack when I told her we were having enchiladas for the first meal back, but I flipped  the script on her, like: “Boo. Chill. They’re salsa verde enchiladas.”

It’s true; she does prefer green sauce to red, though she still seemed a bit skeptical about Week 30, Meal 1: Black bean and spinach enchiladas verde. When it came time to eat, she couldn’t stop telling me how good these were.

And I agree. I’m a fan of black beans and cumin, and they work perfectly here. The smokiness of the cumin mingles with spice from ancho chile powder and a salsa packed with some sizzle from poblano and jalapeno peppers (and if you need more heat, add serranos or more jalapenos). I took one bite in the kitchen after taking the photo above and by the time I actually sat down at the table, I had already finished one enchilada. They look a mess in the pic, but I cracked those open to show you the delicious, meat-free goodies within.

Follow the jump for the recipe and the step-by-step.

Continue reading Week 30, Meal 1: Mean green enchiladas

Week 29, Meal 1: Salmacado salad and the no-oil salad dressing

I think years of processed and fast foods muddled my expectations of what food could be, because every time Chef Brian puts together an all-star dish, I’m like “Dang, this is the best thing ever. How’d he get fill in the blank to taste like this?”

For this dish, the “blank” is a salty-sweet honey and fish sauce glazed salmon sitting on a salad of creamy avocado and tropical fruit. A no-oil salad dressing, made with light coconut milk and peanut butter, and punctuated by jalapeno, shallot and cilantro, tie this whole plate together. It’s fresh fare prepared with care; light, but enough to satisfy this fat dude.

While the fish was fresh, the protein for my other two salads went bad within a day (thanks Whole Foods), and because I’m on a blogging budget, I’m holding off on making those other two salads until I can afford to next week. But without further ado, here’s Week 29, Meal 1: Glazed salmon over spinach salad with mango, avocado and coconut-peanut dressing. Continue reading Week 29, Meal 1: Salmacado salad and the no-oil salad dressing

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