Mexican Food: Have I told you how much I love you? It’s true. I love to eat Mexican food. Let’s get real, Mexican food can mean different things to different people. Growing up in Texas, it took quite some time to realize that some people were not referring to cheesy enchiladas and nachos we know as Tex-Mex when they were talking about real Mexican food. I’m glad I have matured in my food experiences. While I still love Tex-Mex, I can appreciate real Mexican food tambien. Let’s address Mexican home cooking. Mexican chef Pati Jinich states in her new cookbook, Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking, that beans, salsa, queso (fresco), avocados and fresh fruit are the ‘essential ingredients for countless spur-of-the-moment meals.’ Yes, I agree! The fresh aquacate and other fruits and veggies make a tasty difference. Honestly, I didn’t see much of queso fresco until I married my husband … another reason to love him! A reviewer’s copy of the book was sent to Qué Means What to … well … review. I loved the personal stories the chef shares throughout the book.
In several recipes you will find a MEXICAN COOK’S TRICK. To me, these were in the voice of my mom or grandma giving me a helpful tip to make the dish that much better. What I really enjoyed about the book, so far, is that Pati stays on point in making these recipes simple for anyone to complete. Honestly, I was surprised that it was so delicious with such few ingredients.
My First Pati’s Mexican Table Dinner
First, I made the Mango Pico … ingredients: mangos, red onions, lime juice, green onions, cilantro and seasoned with kosher salt. It’s a delicious mix of the sweet mango, tangy lime and spicy flavor of the serrano pepper. This recipe is listed in the salsas section but I used it as my side to my swai fillet. One part of Pati’s book that I enjoyed are the extras! As I was searching for a side, there was a highlighted page with titled “Cooking Rice the Mexican Way.” She lists step by step family tricks to making white rice the Mexican way. I gave it a try because my rice seems to stick often. So, one trick was to soak the Jasmine rice in hot water for 5 minutes and then rinse with cold water before sauté-ing the rice. I had not done that before nor had I used Jasmine rice. I had always used long-grain or extra long-grain rice. Guess what? It didn’t stick and it was light and fluffy. Now, I am not a great cook but I can follow directions. I need cookbooks (or my Mamo right by my side) to tell me exactly what to do. I was a little nervous to try a seafood dish. Recently, I attended a wonderful event hosted by Sea Best and thankfully they sent me home with samples of their swai fillets, a mild, flaky fillet. So, I thought why not give Pati’s Rodrigo-Style Fish a try! According to the book, Pescado Rodrigo is a beloved dish in Mexico City. Pati suggests to flake the fish and serve as tacos. I wanted to eat it as a full fillet. What makes this recipe so special is the sauce! The sauce ingredients: scallions, cilantro, olive oil, serrano pepper, soy sauce and Kosher salt to season. I simply poured the sauce over the fillet and it was amazing! *eh-hem* if I do say so myself.
Where you can find Pati
You may have seen Pati on her PBS show Pati’s Mexican Table. If you are not familiar with Pati Jinich, check out one of her latest appearances in the TODAY Show. It’s like cooking with your amiga. Pati will also be on book tour. She will be offering a cooking class in San Antonio, TX March 8th at Central Market.