What You Need: Exploring Mexican Food Basics

I grew up eating traditional Mexican Food without knowing it was traditional Mexican Food, to me it was just food. Breakfast was always accompanied with beans and dinner always included rice. I’ve compiled a list of ingredients that have always been a staple in my parents household and now my household. 

I would like to place a disclaimer right here stating that there are very many different regions in Mexico. An ingredient that is a staple for me might not be the same for you. My family is from Mexico City and my husband’s family is from Sinaloa. We always compare the same dishes with the same names and realize that they are both made in different ways. 

Here are my staple ingredients with some suggestions on how to eat them. 

1. Knorr Chicken Bouillon

This is a weird one because it is just bouillon. Who adds bouillon to a must have list? Well this ingredient has been in my life since I can remember, we buy it in bulk now. It has to be the brand Knorr because your rice, salsa and various guisados will not taste the same without it.

It only takes 1-2 tablespoons per dish to add that familiar delectable taste.

2. Chiles or Salsa

If you are making enchiladas, chilaquiles or any type of tacos you will need salsa, some chiles en vinagre or simply some roasted jalapeños. Your food will taste 100% better with some type of salsa. Even if it’s mostly tomatoes and you can’t handle heat, you need some sort of sauce to add flavor to your dish, try El Pato sauce or La Victoria to dip your toes into some not so spicy salsa.

3. Rice & Beans

I need to add this to the list because it is a staple in Mexican Cuisine. I will not say every meal, but most meals will be accompanied by rice and/or beans. Red rice is made differently in every family and it tastes slightly different depending on where you’re from. Once you have the recipe down, it’s like you’ve graduated from Mexican Food University. I recently started adding a whole jalapeño to mine.

4. Tortillas

Every single dish can be eaten with some sort of tortilla or masa. If you walk into a Mexican home 9/10 times they will have tortillas. Just writing this makes me want to eat mole negro with rice. I have eaten a Thanksgiving meal with a tortilla, add the turkey with stuffing and a bit of gravy, it will be magic. 

5. Queso

Last but certainly not least is some sort of queso. The best triad in my opinion is queso fresco, Oaxaca cheese and cotija. Oaxaca cheese is best to use in melting situations such as quesadillas or even queso fundido. Queso fresco is my go to for tacos and sopes. If you’re looking for something that is a little dry,saltier and stinkier, go with cotija that cheese goes on anything.

I hope you enjoyed this list and let me know what your kitchen staples are in the comments.


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