Mexican food is more than just tacos, burritos, and nachos. In fact, nachos, while created in Mexico, were actually the result of some quick thinking by a Mexican restaurant maitre d' nicknamed Nacho who didn't want to turn away a group of American women when he couldn't find the cook.
While Americans undoubtedly love what they perceive to be Mexican food, their authentic cuisine offers much more than tacos. Here are four dishes to try the next time you visit a Mexican restaurant.
Huachinango a la Veracruzana
While not considered a peninsula, the country of Mexico does have two peninsulas, and as such, it is virtually surrounded by water. Fresh fish and seafood is abundant and plays a big part in their cuisine.
The signature dish of the Mexican state of Veracruz is Huachinango a la Veracruzana. A whole red snapper or snapper filets are marinated in lime juice, garlic, and nutmeg. The fish is then cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeños, and green olives. Raisins may also be added. The dish is traditionally served with both rice and boiled potatoes. Sometimes, tomatillos may be used rather than tomatoes, creating a green sauce rather than red.
Cazuela De Camarones
This shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce is perfect as a meal or appetizer. Cleaned but unpeeled fresh jumbo shrimp are quickly simmered in a zesty chili pepper sauce made from red Fresno and serrano peppers infused with tomatoes, garlic, and Mexican oregano. The shrimp are served with lime juice, fresh cilantro, and avocado slices to cut the heat.
This dish traditionally uses goat meat, however it is also sometimes prepared with lamb or mutton. The meat is heavily spiced with cumin, cinnamon, coriander, Mexican oregano, peppercorns, and braised in a sauce of pulverized ancho and other chiles, fire roasted tomatoes, raw peanuts, and Abuelita dark Mexican chocolate. The finished product is served with tortillas, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro.
Aguachile is a specific type of Mexican ceviche. The traditional authentic version is made with serranos or jalapeños, lime juice, cucumbers, garlic, and Bermuda onions that have been thinned with a bit of water. Aguachile must be prepared with only the freshest of fish because, unlike ceviche, which enzymatically "cooks" the raw seafood with the acid from the lime juice, aguachile is meant to be eaten as soon as it is tossed in the sauce. Shrimp, scallops, and arctic char, a type of salmon, are typically used.
You can find out more about authentic Mexican dishes by asking the host, server, or chef at your favorite Mexican restaurant.