We just got back from three weeks in Cozumel and you’d think we’d be tired of Mexican food. On the contrary, we had the opportunity to learn more about how the ingredients are used in cooking, visited markets and grocery stores and did a bit of cooking while we were there. We also found ourselves deconstructing dishes to figure out how we could make them here at home.
The first thing is ingredients. Mexican cooking uses FRESH white onions, cilantro, roma tomatoes, various peppers (poblano, jalapeno, serrano, bell), garlic, radishes, broccoli, carrot, avocado, and plenty of juicy lime. They primarily use parboiled rice, which is rice that is partially boiled or steamed in the husk. This process actually forces the nutrients in the husk to get absorbed into the grain making it more nutritious. It is then dried and the husk is removed. In the package the rice looks kind of translucent. It has a lower glycemic index than white rice and cooks in less time than brown rice. You can find parboiled rice in the larger grocery stores in the area where they sell Latino ingredients. There are Mexican grocery stores in Richmond that sell great staples including parboiled rice.
Of course white corn tortillas are the base of every meal. I’m guessing I could find fresh tortillas (or make them myself), but for now I just buy them in the grocery store. Chicken bouillon cubes (Knorr Caldo de Pollo) are used in many dishes, so they’re good to have on hand.
Tonight was my first attempt at making Xochilt Soup. When we had it at Playa Bonita I wrote down the ingredients that were in the soup. They were shredded chicken, avocado, onion, cilantro, rice, tomato, carrot, lime, broccoli, and green onion.
I cooked a boneless skinless chicken breast in chicken broth for about 20 minutes. In another pan, I sauteed white onion, carrot and celery in a bit of olive oil, then simmered it in more chicken broth while the chicken breast finished cooking. When the chicken was done (170 degrees – not overcooked) , I let it cool for about 8 minutes, then Don used two forks to shred it. I added chopped tomato, broccoli, and a bit of cumin, basil and black pepper to the pot with the other vegetables. I added the broth (strained) in which I cooked the chicken. I stirred in some cooked parboiled rice, a bit of leftover cooked wild rice and the chicken. Just before serving I added green onion and fresh cilantro.
I ladled it into bowls then served it with chopped avocado and lime wedges. I didn’t want the avocado to cook at all. The amount of lime is up to individual taste.
We gave it a B+. Next time I will add a bouillon cube to the soup and then taste it. If needed, I will add some salt to bring out the flavors.