Before we left, I made a mental list of all of the different ways I thought I could use this trip to learn something new:
- Learn WordPress
- Learn how to take good photos
- Develop a newsletter
- Practice my writing
- Learn how to cook like a local
- Interview other travelers, locals, etc.
I’m feeling pretty good about those top few bullets, but haven’t committed to any others.
Until today my friends!!
If you know Liz and me, you know that we LOVE to cook. So it only took about two days of begging to convince Marbel, Hostel Che Tulum’s resident chef, to teach me how to make my favorite Mexican breakfast dish – Chilaquiles.
Chilaquiles are essentially breakfast nachos – a pile of tortilla chips, smothered in either a red (tomato-based) or green (tomatillo-based) sauce, then topped with queso fresco, and a fried egg or chicken or steak. I generally garnish liberally with onion and avocado.
This is actually one of very few dishes I’ve been apprehensive to try myself, since I was so afraid of screwing it up. And now, knowing how easy it is, I’m seriously kicking myself.
The salsa roja (red) consists of tomato, serrano peppers, garlic, ancho chile, and epazote – a Mexican herb somewhat similar to cilantro. I was told that this is a crucial ingredient, which is inconvenient, considering I’ve never seen it in the USA. Is this something I could buy at a Mexican grocery store? If so, let me know in the comments below.
The salsa verde (green) consists of tomatillos, serrano peppers (green only, to keep the sauce bright), garlic, onion, and epazote.
Boil, blend, season, simmer, smother, sleep.
- (12-15) tomatillos (the more tomatillo, the more sauce)
- (3) green serranos
- (1-2) cloves garlic (smash with your hand. you can leave the skin on)
- (1/2) onion
- (1/2) bunch epazote
- Water to not quite cover (see pic above)
Remove husks and stems from tomatillos and place in a pot. Remove stems from whole serranos and add to the pot, along with garlic, epazote, onion and water. Boil until tomatillos changes color and soften – around 25 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove tomatillos and serranos into a blender. Discard garlic cloves, onion, soggy epazote and anything else you don’t want to eat. IMPORTANT: keep about 15% of the water to add back into the sauce. Blend tomatillos and serranos with some salt and pepper. Add back into pot with water and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- (8) tomatoes
- (3) serranos (can be red or green)
- (1-2) cloves garlic (smash like above)
- (1/2) bunch epazote
- Dried ancho chile (just a few pieces, without seeds)
- Water to not quite cover
Put tomatoes in a pot along with serranos (remove stems), garlic, epazote, ancho, and water. Boil for about 25 minutes until everything softens and skins are peeling off the tomatoes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes and serranos into a blender. Again, discard garlic cloves, soggy epazote, ancho and any random stems. IMPORTANT: keep about 15% of the water to add back into the sauce. Blend tomatoes and serranos with some salt and pepper. Add back into pot with water and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Tortilla chips
- Grilled chicken breast or steak (optional)
- Egg (optional)
- Queso Fresco (optional)
- Diced white onion (optional)
- Avocado (optional)
- Cilantro (optional)
Place a pile of chips in the middle of your plate. Spoon your choice of sauce liberally over the top. Sprinkle queso fresco onto sauce so it melts a bit. Place egg or meat on top of that, then garnish with onion, avocado and/or cilantro.
I’d suggest making a second plate and putting it a few feet away from where you’re eating, along with a few forks. This provides a decoy for you to eat in peace. It’s like in The Walking Dead when they throw the weakest person to the walkers so they can save themselves. Pretty much the same thing.
Now eat the shit out of that stuff and enjoy your nap.