domingo, julio 21, 2024

Baja Recipes – By Alex Navarro


municipal market in downtown San José del Cabo to get my ingredients for this energetic smoothie and the rest of my meals for that day. This market is amazing! They have very fresh produce every day. They have everything from meats, fish, veggies, fruits and the best ranch cheeses, butters and eggs. So I will pick up a few oranges, a banana, some tomatoes, an onion, and spinach at the fruit and veggies stand. I also get some “piloncillo” here to have some to boil at night time as I mentioned before and also a bag of natural corn chips. Then at the fish store, “la pescaderia”, I usually get some “cabrilla” (seabass) for one of my favorite recipes ever. I ask my friend at the fish stand to put it in the grinder and then he gives it to me in a small plastic bag that you will see in a little bit is an important part of the recipe. I then move on to the ranch cheeses stand. Wow! It is heaven on earth. They always have at least three different types of ranch cheeses like “asadero”, “panela”, “oreado” or “cotija”. “Asadero” is kind of like a string cheese, “panela” is like a white fresh cheese, “oreado” is like a white dry cheese, and “cotija” is like a hard dry cheese to crumble or grate on top of dishes. I get “asadero” cheese because it melts great and I love to use it for quesadillas or scrambled eggs. Here I also buy a ranch butter which is absolutely delicious. Finally, on my way out of the municipal market I buy 10 pesos, or whatever change in coins I have, of freshly made corn tortillas. The market opens up early, some stands before 8 a.m. and the market closes at about 3 p.m., but some stands stay open until 5 p.m. So back to the smoothie! Now at home I finally make myself this smoothie which is so easy to make and so good for you. I put in my blender three squeezed oranges, a banana, oatmeal, amaranth, and bee honey, which I forgot to mention I also buy at the market. I have been making and drinking this type of smoothie for a long time, especially lots and lots of them back around 2002 when I had a little smoothie shop in Plaza Costa Azul with my friend Emilia. For me they are a great way to start the day with lots of energy and a light stomach. By mid morning I am getting hungry for a big hearty breakfast. Easy recipe again, ranch butter in a heated pan, then two or three scrambled eggs with some “asadero” cheese, shredded spinach, diced tomatoes and sea salt. On the side of course, those freshly made corn tortillas. Feeling good after this great breakfast, now I am ready for a full beautiful day until dinner time when my belly is reminding me it is time to eat again. But very important not to forget, and this is when that fishy plastic bag comes into play, is to take out the fish from the fridge at least two or three hours before dinner time and squeeze 3 or 4 limes straight into the plastic bag with the ground fish. I place a colander on the bag’s rim to keep the lime seeds out. I then fold the bag and squeeze thoroughly making the lime juice mix well into the fish. This thorough squeezing of the bag also breaks up the fish more making it more of a fine grind. Put the fish bag back in the fridge and let the lime cook the fish for the next few hours before dinner. Ok, so it’s dinner time, now take out the fish from the fridge and then from the bag, place on the colander and squeeze out all the lime juice, making it as dry as you can. I learned to drain the lime juice this way from a dear Baja friend who everyone loved, Temoc. Then put the fish in a bowl and add some olive oil and sea salt. Mix in freshly diced tomatoes and finely minced onions. Mix more until you have something that looks like a traditional fish salad. Slice and toast some regional artisan bread from one of the local bakeries, (one of my favorite ones is Punta Espiritu bakery) make a sandwich with the fish and now you are ready to enjoy one of my favorite recipes. The cool thing about this dish is that it reminds you of that familiar canned tuna salad sandwich that everyone knows and loves, but we all know canned fish is not so great for you, or the fish, so this is a great way to satisfy that fish salad sandwich craving in a healthy and natural way. If you want to go over the top, you can make some homemade mayonnaise and mix that in the fish salad and it will make it more creamy. I am not an expert on how to make homemade mayo, I’ve tried a few times and have been successful about half the time. What I can tell you is that a basic recipe I know is: one egg, a little garlic, lime juice, sea salt and olive oil. The key is how you blend it to get right consistency, as well as the portions used and the order and way in which you pour them in, like the olive oil. To me this is not so easy. One day I will learn! Let’s say you had a crazy day and forgot to cook the fish in lime ahead of time or don’t feel like dirtying up dishes that day or just want a quick easy dinner. What I do is grab that “asadero” cheese out of the fridge, put it in on the middle of a few tortillas, fold them in half, and put on the “comal” (hot grill); and in a few minutes you have tasty classic quesadillas. Which to me are a tortilla with melted cheese and maybe other ingredients. Some people call folded tortillas without cheese quesadillas, but where I grew up in Mexico City, quesadillas always had cheese in them. I mention this because there is a popular discussion here in Mexico that if quesadillas must have cheese to be called quesadillas? I think so. I hope you enjoyed this article and also maybe someday enjoy the recipes shared here. Oh!, I almost forgot, all throughout the day I make fresh lemonade with the “piloncillo” syrup that I always have ready to use. The lemonade turns out brownish, so maybe we can call it brown lemonade, and the best thing about it besides being delicious and refreshing is that it has no white sugar.* ]]>

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