- Pub. Date:
In New Latin Flavors, award-winning chef Richard Sandoval offers more than 125 vibrantly seasoned Latin dishes, inspired by his popular restaurant fare but carefully streamlined for the home cook. Quesadillas, ceviches, arepas, and enchiladas are offered with Sandoval’s signature flair and bold flavors. The book also presents delectable cocktails featuring traditional Latin spirits that are beloved in the world of mixology—tequila, mescal, cachaca, rum, and pisco—and a variety of salsas, guacamoles, and other cocktail snacks. Whether the food is comfortingly familiar, like the Mahi Mahi Tacos with Pablano Tartar Sauce, or unexpected, like the Tuna Tiradito with Lemon-Wasabi Dressing & Avocado, these recipes offer an exciting new vision of contemporary Latin cooking.
“Richard Sandoval is one of the greatest Mexican and Latin inspired Chefs of our generation . . . This book has amazing recipes! . . . Richard’s approach is authentic, casual, and fun!” —Rande Gerber & Cindy Crawford
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
THE LATIN KITCHEN
TIPS AND TRICKS
Professional cooks use a battery of tricks to make their work easier. You can do the same at home with these tips.
SERVE EXCITING FOOD & DRINK
My cooking is influenced by the cuisines of Spanish-speaking countries around the world. Even though I was born in Mexico and cooking with chilies is literally second nature to me, I also enjoy playing with the flavors of Peru's Japanese Nikkei culture, so I cook with Asian ingredients, too. I love sharing new culinary discoveries with my friends. Intriguing cooking does not happen without interesting ingredients, so if you are not familiar with some of these groceries, please expand your culinary horizons ... and then sit back and wait for the compliments.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Read the recipe a couple of times to be sure that you understand the instructions and their sequence. Every good cook knows the concept of layering flavors and textures to build a cohesive culinary masterpiece. At a glance, you may think that a recipe looks complicated or beyond your skill set. Read it again, and you are likely to find that the recipe really isn't that hard, but just made up of various components, many of which are made ahead and assembled right before serving. After all, that is how many restaurants work. I don't make salsa a couple of minutes before I serve it, or the food would never get out onto the tables.
Especially when you are making a dish for the first time, use mise en place, the classic chef's technique of preparing every necessary component before you begin cooking. This way you won't be digging through a cupboard looking for a key ingredient at a crucial point in the recipe.
Look for the components that can be made ahead. I've provided make-ahead instructions whenever possible. Please ... use them!
SUBSTITUTE AS NEEDED
As a restaurateur with operations on both coasts and in between, I travel all over the country. I have been pleased to see how formerly unusual (and delicious) ingredients can now be purchased at supermarkets, as new immigrants bring their cooking to America. That being said — don't be afraid of making a substitution. I have provided substitution suggestions for unusual ingredients, but everything in this book is readily available at Latin and Asian markets and most supermarkets. To order online, check the Resources on this page.
DON'T SPREAD YOURSELF TOO THIN
Balance your menu with easy and slightly challenging recipes. A complicated menu is a recipe for disaster. A great selection of cheese is always a welcome appetizer, and a simple variety of fresh, ripe fruit is a satisfying dessert, especially when the choices include papaya, mango, and other fragrant and juicy tropical treats. Simplifying these two courses means that you can spend a bit more energy on the remaining dishes. Conversely, spend the time making a showstopping appetizer or dessert, and then do an easy grilled main course. That's how I entertain at my house.
THE LATIN PANTRY
Here is a listing of basic ingredients that can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place.
A sweetener derived from the agave plant (typically the same blue agave variety also used to make tequila), this Mexican syrup has a texture and flavor reminiscent of honey. The harvested sap is heated and filtered to obtain three different nectars of varying sweetness levels: light (mild), amber (moderate), and dark (strong, similar to maple syrup). There is also raw (actually minimally heated) agave nectar. Amber agave nectar is the most versatile of the three major varieties, and it can be found at natural food stores and most supermarkets. I use agave in cooking and as an alternative sweetener for simple syrup in cocktails.
The dehydrated fruits of the capsicum plant, dried chilies are an essential ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Drying preserves the chile and concentrates its flavor. When a fresh chile is dried, its name changes. For example, when a fresh red jalapeño is smoked and dried, it becomes a chipotle, and a dried poblano is renamed an ancho.
Whole dried chilies are easily available at Latin markets and are showing up more and more at general supermarkets. Of course, they are easily purchased online, but it is most economical to buy them in bulk to save on postage. Stored in zip-top plastic bags in a cool, dry place, dried chilies maintain their flavor for about six months, or they can be frozen for up to a year.
There are many alternatives to whole dried chilies, such as pure ground ancho or chipotle chilies, cayenne pepper, and hot sauces. Virtually every supermarket now carries jars of ancho and chipotle powder in the spice aisle. (Chili powder is a spice blend of mild ground chile, cumin, oregano, and other seasonings for flavoring a pot of chili. It is not the same as pure ground chilies, which will have the chile variety clearly marked on the label.) These products can be used without soaking. Their minor drawback is that they don't add body to the sauces like the whole chilies. Flavor differences are a small issue because an ancho does not taste exactly like a guajillo, but to the untrained palate, the difference will not be noticeable.
PREPARING DRIED CHILIES
Whole dried chilies are sometimes toasted and soaked before using. The toasting brings out flavor nuances and soaking rehydrates the chilies for smooth puréeing.
Cut off and discard the stem from each chile, if necessary. Tear or cut the chile open lengthwise, shake out the seeds, and cut away the ribs. Most of the heat is stored in the chile seeds and ribs, so if they are not removed, the finished dish will be too hot.
Heat a medium heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the split chilies and press them against the skillet surface with kitchen tongs. Cook, turning them occasionally, until the chilies are more pliable and give a toasty fragrance (but don't breathe in the fumes too deeply, as they can be irritating), 1 to 2 minutes. The chilies should be toasted in spots, but not burned.
There are literally thousands of different chilies, but here is the core group used in this book:
Ancho: The dried version of the fresh poblano chile, the ancho is wide, wrinkled, and blackened red in color. Only moderately hot, with an underlying raisin-like sweetness, ancho is also available in supermarkets as a pure ground chile. Ancho, guajillo, and pasilla chilies are pretty similar in flavor, so it is no crime to substitute ground ancho for the other chilies in this trio when necessary.
Chile de árbol: Small chilies about the size of a pinky finger, these little guys are very hot, and are used when a noticeable heat is required.
Chipotle: Smoked red jalapeños, chipotles are fiery hot with lots of smoky flavor. They are commonly sold in canned, dried, and ground versions.
Canned chipotles packed in adobo have mainstreamed into a supermarket item. Leftover chilies, with the adobo (a vinegary red chile sauce), should be transferred to a covered container and refrigerated, where they will keep for a couple of months, as both the vinegar and chile act as natural preservatives and discourage molding. For longer storage, space individual chilies (with the adobo) on a parchmentor waxed paper–lined plate, and freeze until solid. Remove from the paper, transfer them to a zip-top plastic bag, and freeze for up to a few months. They only take a few minutes to thaw.
Dried chipotles are dark beige, and should be stemmed, seeded, and rehydrated before using. Morita (see entry) is a variation of dried chipotle.
Pure ground chipotle power is very useful as a substitute for other varieties of whole dried chilies.
Guajillo: Elongated, with a deep red, shiny skin, the guajillo is one of my favorite chilies. It has a fruity, berry-like flavor behind its warm (but not too hot) spiciness, which gives it a flavor profile similar to the ancho.
Morita: The morita chile has the dark purple color of a small mulberry (morita in Spanish). Related to the common dried chipotle, the morita is smoked for a shorter period of time, giving it a different color, softer texture, and fruitier flavor.
Pasilla: Also known as chile negro, this is the dried version of the chilaca chile, which is not used much in its fresh incarnation. Black and wrinkled, it is a bit narrower and more elongated than an ancho.
Soaking chilies: Place the toasted chilies in a small bowl just large enough to hold them. (If you wish, tear the chilies into pieces to help them fit into the bowl.) Add enough boiling water to cover them and let them stand until softened, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the chilies, reserving the soaking water if the recipe requires. The chilies are now ready to be pureed or used as needed.
CHILE PASTES, PERUVIAN
American cooks are just discovering the delicious heat of the Peruvian chile (ají), of which over three hundred known varieties exist. These have not mainstreamed like Mexican chilies, and you cannot find the fresh versions in produce markets — yet. However, Peruvian chile pastes are sold in Latin markets and online. But if you are really interested in new flavors, search out the pastes, which are reasonably priced and, once opened, last for a few months in the refrigerator. You can always make a substitute with an equal amount of roasted and puréed bell peppers highly seasoned with hot sauce. The major types are:
Ají amarillo: A very hot, long yellow pepper, it is probably the most popular chile with Peruvian cooks and is used with everything from seafood to chicken. A substitute would be roasted yellow bell pepper purée seasoned to a fairly hot level with yellow or red hot pepper sauce.
Ají mirasol: This is the dried version of ají amarillo; a substitute would be roasted red bell pepper purée highly seasoned with red hot pepper sauce.
Ají panca: Because of its mild heat, this variety could be considered the poblano chile of Peruvian cuisine. If necessary, substitute roasted red bell pepper purée seasoned to a mild heat with ground ancho chile.
Ají rocoto: The fresh version of this fiery hot chile looks like a hot cherry pepper. It is the hottest of the commercially available pastes. You could substitute a roasted jalapeño (preferably red) purée or, if it is used in small quantities, Chinese chili sauce.
Mexican chocolate is different from American chocolate, as it is made to be melted with milk to become hot chocolate. Shaped into round disks that can be cut into individual wedges for single servings, it is gritty with sugar and flavored with a hint of cinnamon. Look for it in Latin markets in a hexagon-shaped yellow box. Two popular brands are Ibarra and Abuelita (which means "grandmother" in Spanish and has a little old lady on the label). If you need a substitute, use 3 ounces (85 g) semisweet (not bittersweet) chocolate with about 55% cacao content and a large pinch of ground cinnamon for every disk of Mexican chocolate. A standard American brand, such as Baker's or Hershey's, works perfectly. The cacao content is often listed on the label.
CURRY PASTE, THAI
This Southeast Asian style of curry seasoning comes in three different colors and corresponding flavors: yellow (with turmeric and other Indian spices and the Thai additions of shallot and lemongrass), green (based on fresh green chilies, Thai basil, and cilantro), and red (made from fresh red chilies). I use red curry paste in the Thai Chicken Empanadas on this page. Look for it, sold in jars or small cans, at Asian groceries and well-stocked supermarkets and natural food stores.
DULCE DE LECHE
Many Mexican cooks make their own dulce de leche at home from milk and sugar slowly cooked until the milk solids in the mixture turn brown. (The sugars do not actually caramelize, a process that only happens at high heat.) It takes hours, but the good news is that canned or jarred dulce de leche is an excellent product and is becoming increasingly available in the Latin aisle of supermarkets.
Beyond the expected wheat flour, I use a few specialty flours in this book.
Almond flour: Also called almond meal, this used to be a specialty product only sold through baking supply companies, but the increased visibility of gluten-free foods has made it more readily available. It is no more than finely ground almonds. You'll find a reasonably priced, light brown version made from unskinned almonds at Trader Joe's. The ivory-colored type made from blanched almonds is more expensive. In the recipes in this book, it doesn't matter which one you use.
Arepas flour: Arepas, the Venezuelan and Colombian griddle cakes, require a special precooked cornmeal that doesn't have an American substitute — cornmeal just won't work. Sometimes labeled masa para arepas, it comes in white, yellow, and sweet yellow (made from a sweeter type of corn and not with added sugar) varieties. P.A.N., Areparina, and Goya (sold as Masarepa) are common brands. Latin markets carry it.
White rice flour: Milled from common white rice (although the one labeled "sweet rice flour" will work), this flour has no gluten, so it makes a particularly delicate batter for fried foods.
This colorful, flaky Japanese condiment looks like it would make a great cupcake topping, but it is savory and meant to be sprinkled on cooked rice. The main flavoring is dried fish flakes (either bonito or salmon) with seeds, seaweed, and other ingredients added to make at least six different kinds. I use a nori-and-sesame-seed furikake as a garnish for the Tuna Ceviche Nikkei on this page, but you can experiment with other flavors.
The pink, thin slices of sweet pickled ginger served with sushi can be purchased at Asian markets and in the specialty produce section of many supermarkets.
GUAVA PASTE (MEMBRILLO)
This thick and sticky paste made from guava pulp reduced with sugar products is often served in slices with cheese as a dessert or snack in Spanish-speaking countries.
HEARTS OF PALM
You might be able to find fresh hearts of palm in parts of Florida (where it is known as swamp cabbage), but most of us will have to settle for the canned kind. That's okay because they are still very good — firm stalks of pale yellow vegetable that just might remind you of firm asparagus. They should be drained and rinsed before using.
HERBS, DRIED, & SPICES
Latin cooks use a fairly tight range of herbs (the leaves of edible, aromatic plants, used either fresh or dried) and spices (the dried bark, fruits, seeds, roots, or nuts of similarly fragrant plants). It is interesting to note that there aren't many examples of plants that are both an herb and a spice, the exceptions being dill and cilantro. Chilies are spices, but I have provided separate listings for both dried and fresh chilies.
It wasn't too long ago when many cooks had to rely on dried herbs for seasoning food. We now use fresh herbs with abandon for their bright, fresh flavor. However, there are occasions when the concentrated flavor of a dried herb is appropriate. For example, dried oregano has more impact than fresh. On the other hand, dried cilantro and parsley taste so little like their fresh versions that there should be a law against selling them.
As dried herbs and spices age, their essential oils evaporate and lose flavor. Stored in a cool, dark place (never near a hot stove) in airtight containers, they should last about six months. Get in the habit of marking the date of purchase on your dried herbs and spices so you can keep track of when it is time to replace them. It is a temptation to buy herbs and spices in bulk to save money, but that is immaterial if you don't use them up soon enough and they have to be discarded because they have aged and lost their flavor. Especially in Latin markets, you will see herbs and spices sold in plastic bags. Once they are opened, be sure to transfer them to an airtight jar or bottle for further storage.
Here are the dried herbs and spices that I use the most often in this book:
Annatto seeds: These reddish, triangular seeds come from the fruit of the achiote tree, grown in subtropical regions around the world. While it has an earthy flavor, most Americans unknowingly eat annatto most often as a food coloring, for it is often the ingredient used to give an orange or yellow color to otherwise naturally white cheeses. In the Latin kitchen, annatto plays a much larger role as a flavoring. It is ground with other ingredients to make achiote, a versatile seasoning paste (see this page).
Cumin, whole: The musky taste of cumin is found in many Latin recipes. While it is available ground, it is always at its best when the seeds are freshly toasted and pulverized in a spice grinder.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "New Latin Flavors"
Copyright © 2014 Richard Sandoval.
Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 THE LATIN KITCHEN,
2 TAPAS, APPETIZERS & SNACKS,
3 SALADS, BIG & SMALL,
4 CEVICHES & TIRADITOS,
7 RED MEAT,
8 VEGETABLES & SIDE DISHES,
11 THE LATIN BAR,
Index of Searchable Terms,