Viva Mexico: 5 Recipes to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinqo de Mayo

Bring home a taste of Mexico with these flavourful, colourful dishes. Photo: LUNAMARINA/Getty Images

For Cinco de Mayo, we celebrate our ongoing love affair with Mexico, with a tour of the Yucatán and a few recipes for food and drink that will add Mexican flavour at home.

Mexico has long been popular among Canadians as a place they seek sun and an escape from our dreary winters. But there’s so much more. Rich in culture and much of North America’s oldest history, cuisine that’s delicious and a better bang-for-our-buck is just the start. Next door to the state of Quintana Roo, where you’ll find resort towns like Cancun and Tulum, lies the Yucatán peninsula. Bordered on its other side by the Gulf of Mexico, it is famous for its Mayan ruins and pristine beaches, and may just be the new Oaxaca, the state long considered the culinary capital of Mexico. In the state of Yucatán, pre-Columbian recipes such as cochinita pibil (marinated pork) have stood the test of time. The flavours here are a blend of local ingredients like habanero peppers and huaya, a type of lime grown only in the Yucatán used for their acidity, married with bitter oranges likely introduced some 500 years ago by Spanish colonizers from Seville.

Much like this culinary marriage of flavours and ingredients, the state and its capital city of Mérida hold a historical significance as well. Located about 35 kilometres from the beach, Mérida is known by locals as The White City because of the ubiquitous use of white limestone in its buildings. Mayan culture coexists with more recent vestiges of European colonialism, making it a popular home base for archaeology and architecture buffs. The ancient pyramids at Chichén Itzá and Uxmal are both easy day-trips, and while in town, you can take in the beautifully preserved French colonial-style mansions, many of which are open to the public. And, of course, don’t forget the food!  

So until you can get there yourself, bring home a taste of Mexico with these recipes, from authentic Guacamole and Chicken Tinga Tostada to White Sangria.

 

Guacamole

Photo: Courtesy of Vitamix

 

Yield: 1½ cup (360 g)

This traditional Mexican avocado dip, now an international favourite, combines tomato, onion, and fresh cilantro for zesty flavour. Served with tortilla chips, it makes a quick and easy appetizer for guests.

Ingredients:

1 tomato, quartered

½ cup (20 g) fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

¼ cup (40 g) onion, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled

Method:

1. Place all ingredients into a blender, such as a Vitamix, in the order listed and secure lid.

2. Select Variable 1 (or the lowest speed on your blender). Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 3.

3. Blend for 15-20 seconds, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades. You may need to stop the machine and run a spatula around the inside of the container to integrate ingredients.

Do not over mix. Leave chunky. Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes: When doubling recipe, increase avocados to 4 and increase onion to 1/2 cup (80 g).

 

Chicken Tinga Tostada

Chicken Tostada
Photo: Courtesy of Chef Paula Zavala

 

The chipotle pepper is the star ingredient on this dish. It is important to caramelize the sliced onions well before adding the blended sauce. Fresh tomatoes are essential in Mexican and Latin American cuisine. The word tomato comes from the Nahuatl (the language used by the Aztecs) “tomatl.”

Ingredients: 

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded

3 plum tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 large white onion, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove

3 chipotle chillies in adobo (from a can)

Salt to taste

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Feta Cheese or fresco

Sour Cream

Avocado slices

6 tostadas

1 jalapeno pepper

Method:

1.  To make the chipotle sauce, place the tomatoes in a blender with three chipotle chillies, garlic, tomato paste and some of the chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and fry to medium heat for 10 minutes or until they are soft. Add the chipotle sauce and shredded chicken. Add the chicken stock left and cook everything for 10 minutes. Serve over tostadas and garnish with feta cheese, sour cream and avocado slices.

 

White Sangria

Photo and recipe: Courtesy of Casamigos

 

Ingredients:

1.5 oz blanco (silver) tequila, such as Casamigos or Herradura

1.5 oz white wine (Suggest Sauvignon Blanc)

1 oz simple syrup

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz orange juice

2 pineapple chunks or 0.25 oz pineapple juice

2 mango slices

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients into a tin shaker.

2. Muddle fruit and add ice.

3. Shake vigorously for 6-8 seconds then fine strain into a wine glass and add block ice.

4. Garnish with a large thin mango slice and thyme sprig.

 

Strawberry Kiwi Smash (Punch)

Photo and recipe: Courtesy of Casamigos

 

Ingredients:

1 l blanco (silver) tequila, such as Casamigos or Don Julio

17 oz fresh lime juice

17 strawberries (not including strawberries for garnish)

8 whole kiwis (not including kiwis for garnish)

10 oz simple syrup

Method:

1. Peel and slice kiwis into cubes.

2. Blend strawberries and kiwis until liquefied then strain into a punch bowl.

3. Add other ingredients and stir in 3-4 medium scoops of block ice to fill in and cool.

4. Garnish with kiwi wheels with skin on and thin strawberry slices.

5. Stir before each serving.

 

Spicy Paloma

Cinqo De Mayo
Photo: Aamulya/Getty Images

 

Toronto’s Craig Shaw launched Aguamiel Tequila in 2018. With the help of Augustin Sanchez Rodriguez, his master tequilier (yes, there is such a thing), Shaw tapped into that blue agave culture and created a premium blanco tequila with Canadian chops. The award-winning result is subtle, with pepper, vanilla, earth and lemongrass mingling together on the tongue.

Ingredients:

2 jalapeno slices

2 oz Aguamiel Tequila Blanco or your favourite tequila 

1 lime wedge

0.5 oz lime juice

2 freshly squeezed grapefruits

Method:

1. Add the jalapeno slices to a glass

2. Squeeze the lime wedge into the glass

3. Muddle the jalapeno and fill the glass with ice