The larder

The larder

By
Chris Whitney and Nud Dudhia
Contains
3 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 799 2
Photographer
Kris kirkham

In this section you’ll find most of the ingredients you’ll need to make the recipes in this book. Although some of the ingredients may seem a bit obscure at first, once you begin to cook with them you’ll quickly see the impact they make on dishes, adding saltiness, sweetness, sourness, umami, texture and pure chilli heat. Although we describe our food as non-traditional, we use Mexican ingredients extensively, so it’s important to gain an understanding of these unusual ingredients and their uses. Some of them are more difficult to get hold of than others, so wherever possible, we’ll offer an easy-to-get alternative or substitute. The best place to get hold of the harder-to-find ingredients is online through specific suppliers such as Mexgrocer.co.uk or Mexgrocer.com. However, some of the larger supermarkets are now starting to stock these more specific ingredients so it’s worth checking their online stores.

Chillies | fresh

Jalapeño

A medium-sized chilli that has a mild to medium heat. They can be sourced through greengrocers but the medium green chillies (normally called ‘serrano’) which are available in packs from most supermarkets, will suffice.

Birds-eye chillies

These little guys pack a punch that belies their size. At the lower end of the habanero heat scale but many times hotter than a jalapeño, we use them in our Asian-inspired dishes for an authentic Eastern heat. Easy to find in most greengrocers and supermarkets.

Habanero/Scotch bonnets

Fresh habaneros are extremely hard to get hold of so we substitute these for Scotch bonnets, which are available from most greengrocers and supermarkets. They are close relations and although slightly sweeter, still have a powerful fruity citrus heat.

Chillies | dried

Cascabel chilli

These are also known as the rattle chilli due to the noise the seeds make within the hollow stomach of the chilli. They produce a great, mild and delicate flavour that works extremely well in salsas that require more depth of flavour than intensity of heat.

Chipotle

Chipotles are smoke-dried, over-ripened jalapeños, give a mild heat and have a distinctive smoky flavour.

Dried habanero

Like chipotles, these dried chillies are normally reserved for broths and slow cooking, where we tear them in for an intense heat. Unlike the chipotles they are not smoke dried, retaining their fruity punch. (Back in the ‘90s these guys were classed as the hottest chillies in the world.)

Guajillo

Large, medium-to-hot chillies that are generally used for broths but also in pastes and salsas. For salsas they are soaked, deseeded and deveined and ground into a paste.

Ancho

Anch is the name given to a dried poblano chilli and means ‘wide’ in Spanish. It is a large mild chilli that we use to give added depth to broths and salsas, alongside our ancho chilli oil.

Árbol chillies (chile de árbol)

Literally meaning ‘tree chilli’, these are smaller but very potent chillies. We tend to use them in their dry form to add to broths or infuse in oils. As they do have similar heat and taste characteristics to cayenne pepper, you can use it insead of these chillies.

Pastes | herbs | spices

Achiote paste

Also known as recado rojo, this is a red paste made from a blend of spices with the ground seeds of the annatto plant. It’s mainly used as an ingredient for marinades, most famously for the classic Cochinita Pibil.

Cayenne pepper

A spicy powder derived from dried red chilli peppers, and a kitchen staple. Great for adding heat to broths and rubs.

Smoked paprika

Another kitchen staple that’s easy to get hold of. It’s derived from dried red chillies and differs from regular paprika in that the farmers dry the chillies over large fires, which imparts a sweet smoky flavour to the powder.

Ground cumin

Ground cumin seeds were brought into Mexican cuisine by the Spanish many years ago. It adds an earthy, warm taste. Like most of the herbs and spices we use, this is readily available from your local supermarket.

Tinned tomatillos

Tomatillos or Mexican husked tomatoes are a key ingredient in fresh green salsas. A close relative of the Cape gooseberry, they are available fresh but tend to be expensive, so it’s best to use the tinned variety.

Chipotle chilli powder

This adds a wonderful smoky flavour to marinades. Of course, if you’re having trouble getting hold of this powder and you have dried chipotles, you can blitz them for the same effect.

Chipotle in adobo

A key ingredient in our chipotle ketchup, these are plump chipotles in a delicious, smoky adobo sauce.

Mexican oregano

You may be forgiven for thinking that this is simply ‘normal’ oregano but it’s actually an entirely different plant, with a grassy taste and citrus note. It can be purchased through specialist suppliers but if you’re stuck you can try using dried marjoram, which has similar floral notes.

Epazote

This is a Mexican herb that has a very pungent smell and taste, think aniseed and fennel, only stronger. Its aroma has been compared to petroleum!

Star anise

A Chinese spice that we use to enhance the flavours of our meat, particularly beef. Readily available from supermarkets.

Allspice

This is the dried unripe berries of the pimenta tree ground into a powder. Mainly grown in the Caribbean, its name was coined by the English who thought it combined the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Other ingredients

Onion powder

Dehydrated and ground onion.

Garlic powder

Dehydrated and ground garlic.

Salt

We always use good quality sea salt flakes such as Maldon sea salt.

Dijon mustard

We use this as an ingredient in mayonnaise and aïoli.

Fish sauce

An Asian staple, this comes from fermenting anchovies in water and salt. We use this intense flavour mainly in our Asian-influenced recipes.

Dark soy sauce

One of the oldest condiments in the world and a kitchen staple. We tend to use dark soy as it’s less salty than light soy. Perfect for adding umami to dishes.

Vinegars

We use various vinegars for a wide range of uses; aïolis and mayonnaise, pickling and adding acidity. The vinegars we use regularly: red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sherry vinegar and muscatel vinegar.

Essential equipment

Cast iron/ovenproof frying pan or griddle pan

A lot of our cooking involves roasting, braising and grilling. It’s always helpful to be able to start a dish off on the hob (cooktop) and finish it in the oven, thus freeing up the hob to cook the other elements of dishes.

Blender

If there’s one thing you need more than anything to cook our food, it’s a blender. Most of our dishes involve some kind of paste, marinade or a blend of spices. Traditionally Mexicans would use a molcajete, a granite pestle and mortar, but for speed and efficiency, the blender is a winner.

Pestle and mortar

Essential to grind toasted spices and make salsas the traditional way.

Slow cooker

We’d highly recommend you buy one for your home kitchen. They make cooking meat over a long period of time much easier.

Tortilla press

Very useful if you want to make your own tortillas.

WHAT IS A…

Taco

The thing you’ve been waiting all day to eat! This is the base, the meat, the salsa, the whole shebang.

Tortilla

This is what we call the edible plate. Traditionally made from dried corn that has been nixtamalized and turned into a dough called masa, which is then cooked to make a tortilla. We make our tortillas from masa harina and they measure between 12-15cm you don’t make them, corn tortillas are widely available at supermarkets and local bodegas in similar sizes.

Tostada

Take a tortilla and deep fry it until it’s crunchy.

Recipes in this Chapter

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