Down Mexico way: A trip to Oaxaca inspires Mark Hix to create some spicy new recipes

Our man in the kitchen rustles up some alternative, tasty tortilla toppings – and a delicious, cheese-based soup

A couple of weeks back, I visited Mexico with Stuart Ekins from Cask Liquids, one of our spirit importers, and a group of colleagues, to check out mescal production up in the hills outside Oaxaca.

One of our travelling group, Melanie Symonds, has her Quiquiriqui Mescal (translated as cock-a-doodle-doo) made by the small-time producer, El Cortijo, while one of my favourite tequilas, Ocho, is produced by Thomas Estes, who was with us for most of the trip. On the second day, I was given the task of creating some alternative tortillas and salsas from a tortilla truck at the La Altena distillery, where they also make Ocho. A morning visit to the market always inspires new recipes.

Black bean soup

Serves 4-6

This is traditionally made from the stock left over from boiled meats, but I had a couple of versions in Oaxaca, and this one had pieces of local cheese in it which you can find in Mexican and South American shops – or a good substitute would be thin slices of halloumi.

2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
2 onions, peeled, halved and very finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small green or red chilli, finely chopped
1.5ltrs of chicken or vegetable stock
200g passata, or coarsely-blended canned tomatoes
150g cooked weight of dried black beans, or canned and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A piece of Mexican cheese, or halloumi, thinly sliced

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic and chilli for 2-3 minutes, without colouring, until soft. Add the stock and tomato, bring to the boil, season lightly and simmer gently for 30 minutes; add the beans and continue simmering for 15 minutes.

To serve, rub a preferably non-stick pan with a little oil, heat it until it's almost smoking, and fry the slices of cheese briefly, for 10 seconds or so on each side, lightly colouring them. Put the cheese into warmed soup bowls and spoon the soup on top.

Avocado and cucumber salsa

Serves 6-8

This is a good salsa for fish or meats – slightly under-ripe avocados work well for this, so the salsa doesn't turn into a mush.


2 avocados, peeled, stone removed and the flesh cut into rough 1cm dice
½ a cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out and the flesh cut into rough 1cm dice
1 small red onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2tbsp chopped coriander
The juice and grated zest of 2 limes
1tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and season to taste.

Guacamole with crispy pork and chorizo

Serves 4-6

You can serve this with tortillas on the side, or use a warmed or crisp tortilla as a base. Good-quality pork scratchings, such as Mr Trotter's, are ideal for this as they are ready-seasoned. You can also serve the chorizo mixture as a tortilla filling.


150-180g cooking chorizo with the skins removed
50-60g pork scratchings, broken into small pieces
A small handful of coriander leaves, washed

For the guacamole

4-5 ripe avocados, peeled and the stone removed
The juice of 2 limes
Salt and a good pinch of chilli powder to season

Break the chorizo into small pieces, heat a heavy frying pan and cook the chorizo on a medium heat for 6-7 minutes, breaking it down as it's cooking with the back of a wooden spoon; drain off any excess oil and transfer to a bowl. Leave to cool a little, then stir in the pork scratchings. You can add a little of the released cooking oils back in to moisten it, if you wish.

Meanwhile, make the guacamole by crushing up the avocado in a bowl with a fork, as smooth or as coarse as you wish, then mix in the lime juice, salt and chilli to taste.

To serve, either spread the guacamole on to serving plates, or on to warmed or crisp tortillas, scatter the chorizo mixture over and, finally, scatter over the coriander leaves.

Tomatillo and guava salsa

Serves 6-8

You can find fresh tomatillos in some specialist greengrocers or Mexican or South American shops. Tomatillo is a member of the physalis or Cape gooseberry family, and is firm and slightly sour – which is why it's perfect for salsas.

Green or under-ripe tomatoes also work, if you can't get tomatillo. Asian supermarkets or specialist greengrocers often sell guava; if not, a pear would give a similar sweet and savoury flavour.


4-5 tomatillos, or 2-3 large green tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice
3-4 guavas, cut into 1cm dice, or a couple of pears, peeled, cored and diced
3 spring onions, cut in half lengthways and finely chopped
2 medium green chillies, finely chopped
2tbsp chopped coriander, stalks and all
1tbsp chopped mint
2tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and season to taste.

Liver tortilla

Serves 6-8, or more

Liver isn't the usual filling for a tortilla – and cooking it nice and pink isn't at all how the locals would do it, but we did and delicious it was too, especially with the tomatillo and guava salsa.

 

2 x 2-3cm slices of young ox liver or a lamb's liver, trimmed of veins or sinew
The grated zest of 2 limes
2tsp chilli powder
3tsp ground cumin
2tbsp olive oil
1tbsp flaky sea salt
Tortillas and salsa to serve

Score the liver about ½cm deep and 2cm apart on both sides. Rub the spices, oil and salt in on both sides; leave to marinade for 30 minutes. Preheat a ribbed griddle pan, or barbecue, and cook the liver for about 5 minutes on each side, keeping it nice and pink.

Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 4-5 minutes. Carve the liver into ½cm slices; warm your tortillas, put slices of the liver in the middle and spoon on the salsa.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam