Nopalito provides a snapshot of regional Mexican cuisine from the perspective of Gonzalo Guzman, head chef at San Francisco's popular restaurant of the same name. With recipes for 100 traditional Mexican dishes (but through a California lens) from Puebla, Mexico City, Michoacán, the Yucatán, and beyond--including many recipes from the author's hometown of Veracruz--this beautifully photographed cookbook brings the warmth of Mexican cooking into the kitchens of home cooks. The book includes fundamental techniques of Mexican cuisine,
insights into Mexican food and culture, and favorite recipes from Nopalito.
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About the Author
GONZALO GUZMÁN was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and came to the
United States as a young child. He began working at Kokkari restaurant in San
Francisco as a dishwasher, but was soon promoted and went on to work his way up through the industry ranks at Boulevard, Chez Nous, and Nopa. In 2009, he partnered with Laurence and Allyson Jossel and Jeff Hanak to open Nopalito on
Broderick Street. Guzmán is now the chef of both the original Nopalito as well as a second location on Ninth Avenue, just outside Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
Read an Excerpt
IN THE MEXICAN KITCHEN
Many of the food traditions of Mexico historically revolved around three very simple pillars:
We ate mostly what we could grow ourselves.
We preserved what we grew, through drying, pickling, and other techniques.
We used all parts of everything we had access to, from the husks of the corn cobs to the fat from the animals.
We had little choice but to eat ingredients that were in season or to eat food that was grown locally. These options were based not on values but on necessity, as it was all many of us could afford. If you look at it this way, the key ingredients and ideas of Mexican cooking will seem like mostly common sense, and they are really not hard to understand or intimidating to master. Still, introducing them into your kitchen can open up a whole new world of flavors.
There are some cuisines that tout simplicity and integrity of ingredients as important above all else, and while Mexican ingredients may seem simplistic, what surprises many people about cooking authentic Mexican food is the intricacy, variety, and layers of flavor involved. For instance, the drying, then burning of chiles; the soaking and grinding of corn into masa; the blending of spices and herbs together to create a balanced salsa or mole—they all contribute to a nuanced and layered characteristic of the cuisine. Mexican food is, at heart, a labor-intensive style of cuisine from a hardworking people. To me, it is far too rare to see a restaurant or a home cook go the extra mile to transform simple ingredients, and that is why I felt inspired to open Nopalito—and to write this book.
Another part of the inspiration was to offer what I think is a glimpse into the true spirit, roots, and flavors of regional Mexican cooking. In the United States there is this idea that all Mexican meals start with chips and salsa, and that everything is laden with lard or cheese and comes with a side of rice and beans. But throughout my childhood in Mexico, our tables were spread with many dishes— most of them fresh, colorful, and inspired by what came straight from the sea and the land that day. The dishes that we ate in our homes every day are alive and well in these pages.
CURTIDOS “PARA TACOS”
Pickled Vegetables Makes about 4 cups
Open the fridge of any Mexican home cook or chef, and you will find a jar or two of pickled vegetables. Traditionally, they are made with whatever vegetables are on hand, and the brine usually has a sweet-spicy quality from a combination of jalapeños and a little sugar. We call this style of chopped pickled vegetables para tacos because of their petite size—the idea is that you can spoon these pickles right on top of tacos, or eat little bites of them on the side. But they are delicious with any antojito.
11⁄2 cups carrots, halved lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
11⁄2 cups jalapeños, halved lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
11⁄2 cups small cauliflower florets (3⁄4-inch pieces)
1⁄4 white onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 11⁄2 teaspoons sugar
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon dried marjoram
3⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
3⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
In a large bowl, combine the carrots, jalapeños, cauliflower, and onion; toss with the salt and let rest for 30 minutes.
In a medium pot, combine 1 cup water with the vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, garlic, marjoram, thyme, and allspice and bring to a boil.
Transfer the vegetables and salt to a 1-quart mason jar or comparable container. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the top and cover the jar with plastic wrap. Let cool slightly, then cover with a secure lid and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before eating. Will keep for 2 to 4 weeks refrigerated.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
this is a beautiful book, I am Mexican American but only started cooking after I retired, got a late start, I wish I had paid more attention when my Mom was cooking but I didn't so took cooking classes and started to teach myself Mexican food cooking from cookbooks, this book is a gift to myself, I love this cookbook
NOTE: I received this book curtesy of NetGalley and Ten Speed Press in exchange for an honest review. Honestly I have never had real Mexican food before. I am not referring to the imitation taco's, nacho's served at our local franchise restaurants. I do wish that I was able to obtain the ingredients as the recipes look divine and filled to the brim with flavor. The photographs and step by step instructions make you feel as if you will be able to replicate these traditional dishes with ease.
This Mexican cookbook was not quite what I expected – it was much more. It opened up a new world of tastes, ingredients and food preparation styles, with a wonderful array of recipes. The first thing that strikes you about these recipes is the quantity and variety of chillies called for. In our local shops and supermarkets, chillies just come in red, green and (for something really exotic) Scotch Bonnet. So, it was quite clear that if I wanted to make any of these recipes properly, then I would have to go to the internet. Luckily, I was able to order a variety pack of Mexican dried chillies that seemed to cover most bases. The second thing was that most of the meats were boiled, and then added to the sauces. Most recipes that I was used to, would fry or roast the meats first, then add any liquid. Despite my initial doubts, the results were very tasty and tender, so I have learned some good new techniques. The third thing you notice is, that there is no recipe for “chilli con carne” – not anywhere! For non-Mexicans, “chilli con carne” IS Mexican food. This cookbook begs to differ. Chillies in hand, meat on the boil, I began to cook. I stuck mainly to the “small plates” and discovered some mouth-watering, and for me, quite exotic, recipes. My favourites were the “Tacos de Cochinitas”, the “Tamales de Birria con Pollo” and the “Tostadas de Picadillo”. The recipes tend to be quite involved, but most are achievable with a bit of effort. We didn’t always do the full recipe as listed. Quite often we would substitute bought tortillas, tacos etc. rather than making them from scratch. We also had some of the sauces on baked potatoes or pasta, or used left-over roasted fowl instead of fresh meat – all of which worked very well. I have only tried one of the fish recipes so far: “Tacos de Pescado al Pastor” with whole sea bass, which was very good, and I am very keen to try the Ceviche recipes. There is so much in this book that is new to me, and so much more that I want to try. I would recommend it to any adventurous cook, who wants to spice up their life a bit. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review