The memory of my first Mexican Catina is still vivid. It was in Huntington Beach California. A very unpretentious little place with formica tables, joined to the side of a house. There were no Margaritas or Mariachis but it was my first real taste of Mexico.
Some weeks later I was half way down the Baja California Peninsular, and well acquainted with Huevos Revueltos and beans with everything. The main attractions of this wild beach lined coast are the whales and dolphins and seals and 15th century remains of a mud city. The spa resorts and their culinary attractions were lost on me as the schedule included only a bumpy bus journey down to LaPaz at the southern tip with a nights stop over in a small wind swept town. The incredible scenery by sunlight and full moon of dust and desert, cactuses and blue sea , flashing past in spectacular rushes of excitement. If you have ever been on a bus journey of this kind you will understand why the Huevos and beans were so dominant in the first days and later remaining impressions of Mexico. Bus journeys rarely involve culinary discoveries
I am not sure why I love Mexican food, maybe sentimental memories of Mexico or a year cooking with disparate modern Mex ingredients in Miami and San Francisco don’t know, however there is so much more to its flavour than we have ever experienced in Australia
All things American have krept into our restaurants recently and America seems to claim some kind of ownership over Mexican cuisine. This ownership myth is easily dispelled with a trip south of the border.
I am having my own impromptu Mexican Feast. Whatevers in the cupboard will form the basis of my mix-mex night. I do keep a few Mexican inspired ingredients in my cupboard. Jalapeno chillis (tinned pickled – I love them!) some black beans and flour tortillas and then any thing in the fridge that resembles the taste I am craving
The end result is
Potato Quesadillas with Crispy Fish and Black Bean Salsa
There are four separate elements of this dish
1. Potato Quesadillas
2. Blackbean Salsa
3. Crispy fish pieces.
4. Avocado cream
A little like Asian, if all the elements are ready it takes no time at all to put the dish together. So here we go:
- Start with 500gm potato (thensteam mash and cool slightly)
- 100gm cheddar grated
- 2 Tablespoons of goat curd or sour cream.
- 1 Tblsp Cummin
- 1 Tblsp Smoked Paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 packet of Tortillas
Black Bean Salsa
Make this while waitng for the potatoes to steam
- 2 to three small ripe tomatoes
- 1 cup of blackbeans
- 1/2 bunch of coriander washed roots and stems
- 1/4 bunch dill ( optional)
- 1/4 of a spanish onion ( 2-3Tablespns)
- Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
- 1/2 clove garlic
- Jalapenos and some of there vinegar (to taste)
- 1/2 tspn sugar (alternatively tomato sauce will work) Salt and Pepper
- 1 kg of white fish such as Snapper, cut into even sized fingers
- 1/2 cup of flour or cornflour * (gluten free)
- 2 Tblsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 Tblsp sesame seeds
This works best in the food processor or blender as it gets light and creamy with mixing.
- 1-2 ripe medium avocados
- Juice of 1 lemon ( the more avocado the more lemon)
- 2 sprigs of chopped coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 2 Tablespoons of water if needed ( or some lemon oil)
To make Quesadilla filling
- Mix the ingredients for the potato mixture together. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
- Flour tortillas *Can use corn for gluten free.
- Cut two circles with a knife, for each serve, from each tortilla, about the size of a saucer. Put these elements aside until later
This is the Quesadilla once cooked and served as a dish by itself
To make the Salsa
- In a bowl add diced spanish onion, jalapenos & coriander. Chop the tomatoes as fine as possible and add all of the juice that escapes to the bowl of ingredients with the black beans & garlic. The lemon, salt and pepper and sugar are to balance the salsa, so taste and add as needed
- Set aside
To make Crispy Fish
- Mix all of the spices and flour in a bowl. Toss the fish in this mixture making sure that each piece is well coated.
To make the Avocado Cream
- Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, only adding the water ( or oil if it is not mixing well) if necessary. It should taste quite lemony. Season very well with salt. It is a sauce and will work well if it is seasoned, silky smooth and tangy
- Warm two fry pans.
- You will need vegetable oil for frying
- First spread the mash potato onto each round of tortilla about 1-2 mm thick. Top with another tortilla round.
- Using a small amount of oil in the frypan on medium, add the tortilla ( several at a time if the frypan is large enough). Turn after about two minutes or when golden on both sides.
- Put on to a plate. In the meantime heat approx 1/4 cup oil in the other fry pan and start to add fish pieces frying until crisp on each side ( approx 5 mins).
- To plate , put a tortilla onto each plate. Spread a little avocado onto each one and ldivide the fish pieces between the plates. Add several spoons of salsa and a dollop of avocado cream.
- Serve with extra Jalapenos and coriander sprigs
You can serve this crispy fish , salsa and avocado cream with Tortillas as a snack as well
Heat a frypan and add a 1/2 teaspoon of oil. Put the Tortilla into the fry pan adding the fish, salsa and avocado. ( also added goat curd). The tortilla will be crispy. Fold it over and seal by turning it in the pan. Eat with jalapeno chillis
Inside: Crispy Fish Pieces, Avocado Cream, Salsa, Goat curd and jalapeno.
This is Toasted Banana Bread with banana, pecans and some flavours that Mexicans love caramel, chocolate and guava. The best thing about this dessert is the ice cream. It is made from Condensed milk. Another of those things that is really popular in Mexico.
This ice cream is seriously good…. and easy
- 1 tin ( 400gm) condensed milk
- 600ml thickened cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- Empty Condensed milk into the bowl of your mixer
- Scrap the vanilla bean into the bowl.
- Pour in thickened cream
- Mix these together till light and fluffy and thick.
- Pour into a mould such as a 20- 23cm ( 10in) cake tine or lined loaf tin
- Freeze completely overnight or 3-4 hours
- Or for a lighter finish pour into an icecream machine and churn as per the manufacturers instructions