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With recipes by Ana Correa
In search of the truth of Central Mexican cuisine I enlisted my good friend Ana Correa.
She is a Mexican-born and raised, Canadian-educated sommelier living in Nova Scotia. Ana manages the service staff of a popular waterfront restaurant but in her spare time she loves to cook authentic Mexican cuisine with her partner and well-regarded local chef Matt Kelly (Halifax’s Little Oak Wine Bar). Her recipes reflect her upbringing in Mexico City.
Even those of us who believe we have good food knowledge are fooled at times. When I suggested the possibility of making fish tacos, Ana quickly reminded me “that is a Baja (Mexico) and California thing.” With the constant influx of Instagram and TV food shows, the lines between what is authentic and what is not can easily be confused, even for the most passionate of foodies, such as myself. Even the term Mexican cuisine is a little too overarching. Certainly, as a Canadian I would never suggest there is a Canadian cuisine, dismissing the fact that our traditional Nova Scotia fare is completely different than Quebecois cuisine.
In this week’s In a Jiffy video, Ana and I create a few dishes focused on Central Mexican street food culture. Discover how we made the recipes in my latest In a Jiffy video as well as a couple cocktail recipes featuring tequila, the national spirit of Mexico.
Mexican street corn
6 ears corn, husk on (if available)
4 tbsp mayonnaise
3 lime, halved
1/3 cup Cotija cheese*, crumbled
Directions: Steam corn in the husks (or out, if not available in the husks). Remove corn from husks. Lather corn with equal amounts of mayonnaise. Sprinkle each with equal amounts of cheese. Squeeze a halved lime over each and sprinkle each with a pinch of Tajin powder.
*If you can’t find Cotija cheese substitute with ricotta salata or feta cheese.
Carne asada tacos
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 lb flank steak, room temperature
Charred tomato salsa, to serve
White onion, diced, to serve
Cojita cheese, crumbled, to serve
Limes, cut into wedges, to serve
18 tortillas, to serve
Directions: Place a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Season flank steak with generous amount of salt. Add to pan and sear for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and sear for 2 to 3 more minutes. Let steak rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice against the grain into thin strips. Serve with tortillas, accompanied by charred tomato salsa, diced onion, crumbled Cojita cheese and lime wedges.
Makes 18 tortillas
2 cups corn flour*
1 1/2 cups water
Directions: Combine the flour and water in a bowl and mix. When the water is incorporated work the dough into smooth and pliable. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour before making tortillas. Take chunks of dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Place in a tortilla press lined with wax paper and press until thin tortillas are formed. * Alternatively using a rolling pin to roll out the tortillas. The tortillas should be about 6-inches in diameter. You will want the tortillas to be very thin to ensure they cook fully. Set a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. When the tortillas start to bubble (the center should puff up) turn over and cook for another 20 seconds. Repeat until finished. Stack cooked tortillas on a plate and keep covered with a clean dish towel.
*We used Maseca brand corn flour, which is available at specialty stores such as Pete’s Frootique and online via amazon.ca. I ordered a traditional tortilla press via Amazon, as well, but the tortillas can be made using a rolling pin.
Ana’s Tip: Make sure your tortillas are thin. Once made the edges should not be cracked. This indicates the dough is well hydrated. When you are cooking the tortilla should puff up in the middle; this indicates you have enough and an even heat in the pan.
Charred tomato salsa
Makes 2-3 cups
4 plum tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2-3 dried guajillo peppers*
Directions: Set a cast iron past over medium-high heat. When hot, add the tomatoes and garlic. Blacken on all sides. Transfer to a blender. Add the peppers and toast until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds. Add peppers to blender. Blend until smooth.
*Ana used guajillo peppers she ordered online but any dried chile pepper, such as the more readily available ancho chile peppers, can be used.
Recipes by Ana Correa
Want more Mexican-style recipes? SaltWire Dinner Party: There's much more to Mexican food than you realize
Mark DeWolf is a connoisseur of all things food and drink. He's a creative director with SaltWire and local fare is his specialty. You can subscribe to his Follow a Foodie newsletter here.