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Latin-American Cuisine

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Latin-American Cuisine

Postby karadekoolaid » Mon Dec 28, 2020 9:13 pm

So where do I start?
Latin America, including Mexico and Central America, but excluding the islands in the Caribbean, extends over aproximately 19.5 million kilometres, with more than 800 different indigenous tribes.
Europe, in contrast, registers 10.5 million kilometres - and far fewer "tribes" ( unless you count football fans).
Before 1492, Europe (and indeed, the rest of the world) knew nothing of squash, beans (including French , runner, black, kidney, and brown beans), tomato, peppers (bell peppers and hot peppers)potatoes, yucca, maize, peanuts, cashews, avocados, cocoa, tobacco, pineapple, guava, pawpaw,custard apples, persimmon, cocoa, vanilla or passion fruit.
Meat consumption on Latin America is around 100-110 kilos per person, Huge beef and pork consumers, and chicken doesn´t fall far behind. Did I also mention fish? Around 15 kgs per head.
So where´s the lettuce??? :lol:
If I made a huge generalisation, I´d say that Mexican food is centered around meat, maize and veggies. Perú and Chile consume vast amounts of fish; Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia - huge meat eaters.

So where do I start?
Talking about "Latin American Cuisine" is like saying there´s a European, or Asian cuisine - there isn´t. Each country has its own specialities and style, depending on the Spanish, Portuguese or other influences.

Ask away - I´m no expert by any means, but I have had considerable exposure to many different dishes from many countries.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Stokey Sue » Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:20 pm

I went to Peru some 15 years ago on a business trip to Lima
I have only faint memories of what I ate but it was mostly good

Lots of lovely seafood from the Humboldt current, and of course potatoes in every form possible, notably little potato cakes (made from yellow potatoes, and they are yellow, look as if someone has added turmeric, but they haven't) stuffed with crab meat

Wonderful fruit and veg, and the Peruvian staple of lomo saltado, sautéed pork loin

I was intending pre-lockdown to walk to the Latin American market at Seven Sisters, and eat arepas rellenos at the Colombian café, but of course I haven't, My Brazilian neighbours have a street food stall, selling burritos (meat, chicken, or jackfruit in flour tortillas) which I can't currently eat or coxinha, pear shaped potato croquettes stuffed with chicken, which I should get this week

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby karadekoolaid » Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:21 pm

Peruvian cuisine has been (rightfully) pushed over the last few years, not least because one of the best chefs in the continent, Gastón Acurio, has introduced the world to their local delights.
Obviously everyone knows what a ceviche is. A classic version from Lima is made with fresh sea bass, yellow chiles, red onion and lots of lime juice, and finished with a blob of sweet orange potato. The ceviche, something you may or may not know, is prepared at once; it´s not marinated, and that´s why there´s so much lime juice in it.
A similar, but equally delicious dish is called "tiraditos" (literally, "strips"). Strips of fresh fish, rather than chunks, which are then doused with some kind of fruit juice, onion and chile. Alvaro, a chef I worked with in D.O.C. restaurant in Caracas, made the most amazing "tiraditos" with fresh passion fruit juice.
Peruvian food uses plenty of chiles. And here´s a fact :
The first chiles identified were from a remote triangle of land bordering Perú, Brazil and Bolivia - about 18,000 years ago.
Perú is also credited for being the country where the potato originated; they have about 3,000 varieties. Two of the most common ( or well-known) dishes are Causa Limeña and Papas a la Huancaina.
Other well-known dishes are (as Sue mentioned above) Lomo Saltado (Stir-fried beef tenderloin with tomatoes, onion, chiles); Ají de gallina (Shredded chicken mixed with onion, garlic, yellow chile paste, ground nuts and a touch of evaporated milk) - I´ve tried it, it´s absolutely divine - and Rocoto relleno ( a large red rocoto chile stuffed with minced beef, olives, raisins and tomato). For the less faint-at-heart, you could try anticuchos de corazón ( grilled beef or alpaca heart marinated in spices - and chiles, of course) and finally, Cuy ( Guinea-pig casserole. The guinea-pigs are served whole, yes, head and tail and feet - everything).
A Peruvian chef friend used to have a "sushi " bar on Margarita Island. He was half Japanese, so there was a lot of Japanese influence in his cooking. His signature dish was " Mero a lo mero macho" - "Sea Bream for real men" - which involved cooking the fish in a rocoto chile and tomato sauce. I passed the test!

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Stokey Sue » Tue Dec 29, 2020 12:06 am

There are a lot of people Japanese ancestry in Lima, in fact they had a Japanese Peruvian president in the 90s

Lots of ceviche of course, though never with sweet potato as far as I remember

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby jeral » Tue Dec 29, 2020 2:05 pm

Thanks for some very interesting factual info to start up with :)

A quick question:
Is corn oil the oil of choice for shallow and deep frying everything? I wonder, as nut oils must be plentiful. Or maybe veg seed oil figures too, though possibly unlikely to be rapeseed (Canola)?

Ta.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby karadekoolaid » Tue Dec 29, 2020 3:49 pm

Brazil and Argentina produce 47% of the world´s soybeans.
Sunflowers are native to South America - as is corn.
To be honest, I don´t think there´s a preference for which oil is used. Given the levels of poverty, I´d imagine many people simply grab the cheapest oil available; and that might also include lard.
Nut oils ( avocado, macadamia, hazelnut, etc) are extremely rare over here ( in fact , I can´t even recall having seen any). I´d imagine that´s because there´s less oil to extract and it´s a more expensive process.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Stokey Sue » Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:50 pm

In Europe, Africa, and Asia the only nut oil used in bulk for regular cooking is arachide aka groundnut aka peanut

Oils from tree nuts such as hazel or walnut are sold in expensive little bottles for their flavour in dressings etc, and are often unfiltered to maintain maximum flavour, which means they don’t heat up well

I like groundnut oil but it’s now expensive so I use sunflower which to me has the most neutral flavour, though soy, corn and rapeseed are all popular

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Amyw » Wed Dec 30, 2020 1:07 am

I bought a bottle of walnut oil once , fairly small and expensive for use in a salad dressing and it was delicious . I’d never use but oils to cook with .

At work I used to take one of the men I support to 5 Guys and while their burgers were really good , they cook their chips in peanut oil and I used to find the taste really unpleasant

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby karadekoolaid » Wed Dec 30, 2020 1:42 am

For me, the best use for nut oils is in salads, or when you just want to add a touch of flavour to something at the end.

I´ve just been perusing one of my Mexican cookery books . Nearly all the recipes ask for "vegetable oil" - although some use lard, because pork ( or wild boar known as peccary) is popular in Mexico.

Just to change the subject, here´s a recipe which uses no oil at all. " Carnitas" means any shredded, or pulled meat. This one is for pork, and is oh so popular at the street Taco stalls. You can reduce the amount of pork if you like.
Pork "carnitas"
2 1/2 kgs leg of pork, deboned
4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, cut into quarters
1 tsp oregano
3 chilpotle chiles in sauce ( buy the tins - La Costeña is really good)
2 bay leaves

Sear the pork on both sides in a large, medium-hot pan until browned on both sides. (Typically, they´d use a large aluminium bowl-shaped pan called a "caserola".)
Now add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, add about 2 tsps salt (my suggestion, not in the recipe) and cook gently for about 3 hours, until the meat falls off the bone.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain off the stock.
As soon as the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the fat and tendons (give them to the dog). Pull the meat apart into pieces.
Skim the fat off the stock and add a little to the (pulled) meat, so that it´s not dry.
Eat on its own, with vegetables and rice, or use it for tacos, tortillas, tostadas,burritos or tamales.
Skim the fat off the

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Gillthepainter » Wed Dec 30, 2020 9:50 am

Nice one, Clive.
And well done on passing that macho test! I'm a bit of a chilli head myself, and wonder if I could do it. I guess we'll never know :lol:

I've just googled and seen cocada that has interested me.
Do you whizz one up, and what do you add to it, please. I'm a smoothie nut.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Stokey Sue » Wed Dec 30, 2020 12:25 pm

Reminds me I have a half can of La Costeña Chipotles in Adobo in a little tub in the freezer, they aren’t hard to find, mine came from the Spices Shop in Brighton but a quick Google suggests they are ubiquitous

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby karadekoolaid » Wed Dec 30, 2020 3:15 pm

I've just googled and seen cocada that has interested me.

A cocada is basically a coconut smoothie. But here´s the thing; the coconut has to be soft, not hard. When coconuts ripen, the first stage is full of water, and no "meat". The second stage is a sort of creamy, jelly-like meat - and still a good amount of water. This is the coconut used for making cocadas. I think Sue posted some coconut pics the other week which looked like what you´d need. The sellers blitz the coconut in a blender, with a bit of sugar and often some cinnamon. Served over ice.
If the coconut is too difficult to find, I´d go for tinned, unsweetened coconut milk, thin it out a bit, perhaps, and take it from there.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Gillthepainter » Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:55 pm

Thanks for the information.
I have desiccated, but it sounds wrong. I also have a small tin, that would probably work.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby karadekoolaid » Thu Dec 31, 2020 1:31 am

Decimated is best as fertilizer for the garden :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Gillthepainter » Thu Dec 31, 2020 11:22 am

he he he.
I once lovingly prepared a tray bake of something or other. Added the coconut that had gone rancid. What a waste of money that was!

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby karadekoolaid » Sat Jan 02, 2021 8:27 pm

Over New Year, the beaches are usually packed here in Venezuela. I suppose that this year, they´re socially distanced...
However, we used to spend most of our New Year holidays in Margarita, and one of my favourite dishes was "Camarones Enchiladas" ( Shrimp with Chile Sauce).
It must be said that Venezuelans are not fans of spicy food; they prefer any hot sauce as a side. So this recipe uses a local chile (Ají dulce) which has all the flavour but is not hot at all.
Camarones Enchiladas

450 gms peeled shrimp
juice of 2 limes
Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium pepper, julienned
3 cloves garlic
1 green jalapeño, seeds and veins removed, (OR 4 ají dulce), diced finely
1 small tin of tomato purée
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp coriander leaf
2 tsps white vinegar
Enough water to thin the sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Marinate the shrimp in the lime juice for about 15 minutes.
Fry the onions, peppers and garlic in the olive oil until just soft.
Now add the jalapeño (or ají dulce), , the tomato purée, the herbs and the vinegar. Cook for a few minutes, then add enough water to thin the sauce. Add the salt and pepper.
Cook for about 10 minutes, adding a little more water if necessary.
Now add the shrimp and cook until they are just done.
Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve with white rice and fried plantains or tostones.

Tostones
2 green plantains
oil for frying

Peel the plantains and cut into two-inch rounds.
Fry the rounds in the oil for two to three minutes, turning them once.
Remove the plantains from the oil and squash them between two cutting boards, so you have circles of plantain.
Now fry the plantains once again until they´re golden and crispy. Drain on kitchen roll and sprinkle with salt.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Gillthepainter » Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:51 am

Another school day, not wrapped then.

Sounds absolutely delicious. I always have those small puree tomato tins in, they are so convenient.

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby scullion » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:21 pm

Gillthepainter wrote: I always have those small puree tomato tins in, they are so convenient.

they are also the perfect size for a temporary mend on the exhaust pipe of the old style vw polo...

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Stokey Sue » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:30 pm

Going off at a slight tangent, I keep tomato purée in tubes rather than the little cans which are often more than I want in one go. A few weeks back I bought a tube of tomato purée with herbs by mistake - was annoyed but it’s really goood for just adding a little zhuzh to things

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Re: Latin-American Cuisine

Postby Linnet » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:57 pm

scullion wrote:
Gillthepainter wrote: I always have those small puree tomato tins in, they are so convenient.

they are also the perfect size for a temporary mend on the exhaust pipe of the old style vw polo...


....and with both ends removed they make a good size cutter for cheesy biscuits for aperitifs!

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