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Top 5 Oaxacan Ingredients

by Brent May

I love to cook and these are my top 5 Oaxacan ingredients and my favorite ways to use them!

1. Masa

More than just for tortillas! I love corn masa dumplings in mole de olla, the texture is similar to amatzoh ball dumpling. They are often called ‘chochoyotes’ and unlike matzoh contain a good amount of pork fat (asiento).

2. Huitlacoche

While these corn smut mushrooms are often pureed to a paste and used in omelets and empanadas, my favorite way to eat them is sauteed whole and fresh, with guajillo chile and almonds. I like to serve them on toasted baguette and topped with queso fresco for a yummy appetizer. Don’t use canned huitlacoche- it will make you think you don’t like it.

3. Hoja Santa (Latin name Piper auritum)

This fragrant leaf is a key ingredient in mole Amarillo, lending an anise flavor to the silky sauce. However, the leaf is also a great addition to salads or on sandwiches instead of lettuce.

4. Chapulines

Grasshoppers are a kitschy delicacy to try when you are in Oaxaca. They come roasted with salt and chile and are a common snack at sporting events. I like to use the chapulines in salad dressing. Blend a handful of chapulines with olive oil, honey, and salt until you get the desired consistency. Adds complex smoky and yeasty flavor to your favorite veggies.

5. Nopales

This slimy cactus is incredibly versatile and healthy. For a quick immune-booster add raw nopal (spines removed) to your favorite smoothie. They are also great roasted or sauteed and added to scrambled eggs or used as a quiche or empanada filling.

Written by Jane Bauer | The Eye Magazine, August, 2017 

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