Fire things up with popular hot sauces. Whether you’re just starting to heat things up or you’re looking for new options there’s a sauce to spice up any meal.
This thick North African sauce combines hot peppers with garlic and other seasonings. It’s traditionally served with couscous, but harissa can also add flavor and fire to everything from meat and fish to vegetables and eggs.
While there is sriracha from Thailand (it’s named after the town where it was created in the 1930s), the wildly popular one used in everything from wings to Bloody Marys is produced in Southern California. Both feature fresh red chilies, sugar, salt, garlic, and vinegar.
GREEN HOT SAUCE
Most hot sauces are red because they’re made with red peppers, but there are green versions, which are typically made with jalapeños and/or poblanos and sometimes tomatillos. Green sauces can be milder or more herbal, but heat levels vary from sauce to sauce.
Most hot sauces are based on the Louisiana style formula of chilies, vinegar, and salt, and puréed into a thin red liquid. Which peppers are used, how they’re processed, and additional ingredients make for endless variety.
MEXICAN HOT SAUCE
South-of-the-border sauces tend to use the same Louisiana style combination of chilies, vinegar, and salt, and have a similar flavor, but if you’re eating tacos, why not reach for a bottle from Mexico? Many include chipotles, which are dried and smoked jalapeños, and add smoky flavor.
“Work With What You Got!”
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Tacos Your Way!
There are many ways to make tacos depending on your taste and mood. From fish tacos to pork spare-rib tacos the possibilities are endless. I have to say that I was certainly spoiled with outstanding Mexican food while living on the West Coast for many years. More and more I am finding better Mexican food here in the Northeast, but as you know I like to cook up my own food more often than not. Here are some ways to stuff your tacos (hard or soft) and by all means experiment yourself. The bonus is that making tacos can also be a great way to use up those leftovers staring at you when you open the fridge.
Cod Tacos: Baked or Sautéed Cod, Grated Red Cabbage & Salsa
Smoked Salmon Tacos: Smoked Salmon, Grated Red Cabbage & Salsa
Catfish Tacos: Sautéed Catfish, Romaine Lettuce, Salsa & Sour Cream
Fried Oyster Tacos: Fried Oysters, Romaine Lettuce & Salsa
Marlin Tacos: Sautéed or Baked Marlin, Mangos & Salsa
Lobster Tacos: Lobster, Mangos, Jalapenos & Guacamole
Fried Chicken Tacos: Shredded Fried Chicken Breasts, Jalapenos, Lime Juice & Shredded Lettuce
BBQ Carnitas Tacos: Smoked or Roasted Pork, Barbeque Sauce, Sautéed Onions & Fried Pickles
Indian Tacos: Shredded Buffalo, Seared Green Chiles & Salsa
Brisket Tacos: Shredded Brisket, Jalapenos, Shredded Green Cabbage, Lime Juice & Salsa
Grilled Steak 3 Ways
Honestly, you don’t need a barbeque to make grilled steaks. Just go out and get yourself a grill pan and you will be wonder what took you so long in getting one. If you do want to throw your steaks on the barbeque then I certainly hope that you’re using a charcoal grill!
Rib Eye, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse, T-Bone or Strip Steaks
Freshly Ground Pepper
Buy 1 steak per person. Bring steaks to room temperature. Preheat your grill or grill pan to a medium-high heat. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and pepper. Grill, turning 3 times (for crosshatch grill marks), until target temperature is reached – anywhere from about 5 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove from heat and allow to rest off heat for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Black Pepper Crusted
Rib Eye, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse, T-Bone or Strip Steaks
Coarse Ground Black Peppercorns
Buy 1 steak per person. You will need about 2 tablespoons coarse ground black peppercorns per steak. Preheat your grill or grill pan to a medium-high heat. Brush steaks with olive oil and coat with peppercorns. Grill, turning 2 times (for crosshatch grill marks), until target temperature is reached –anywhere from about 5 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove from heat and allow to rest off heat for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Carne Asada Tacos
2 Pounds Flank or Skirt Steak
5 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 Diced Jalapeno Pepper
2 Teaspoons Cumin
1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro
Juice of 2 Limes
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
Place the steaks in large ziplock bag. Pour in the marinade. Place in the fridge for 2 to 12 hours. Preheat grill or grill pan. Grill over a medium-high heat, 3 to 5 minutes per side to target temperature. Medium-rare is suggested. Remove from the heat and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain, serve with tortillas, salsa, and avocado.
To keep your Mexican dishes authentically delicious, here are some pointers about chiles. If you were asked to identify one characteristic that would singularly describe Mexican dishes, the “chile” would be the answer, namely chile peppers. Whether ground, whole, sliced, diced, pickled, fresh, canned or dried, chile peppers are an inherent part of Mexican dishes.
There are many varieties of chiles, ranging from mild to very hot! Chefs use whatever chiles are available to them. Some varieties are available canned when they aren’t available fresh. Here is a list of some common peppers.
Green Peppers: Also called bell peppers. They are very mild peppers and are used in salads as a garnish and they are used to flavor & color dishes.
Anaheim: Also called California peppers. They are mild, long green chiles. They can be eaten raw and are used in salads.
Jalapenos: They are smaller sized and dark green chiles. They are typically very hot.
Serranos: They are smaller and slimmer than jalapenos, but be warned they are hotter too!
Ancho: These chiles are plump and dark green chiles that range from mild to medium. Ancho means “wide,” that’s why these are usually the best choice for chile rellanos.
Yellow Hots: They are longer than jalapenos and moderately hot. These chiles are used in hot mixes, along with other chiles and are used in salsas. They are also used as a garnish to color dishes.
Wax Chiles: These chiles are small, slender, yellow chiles and are used in pickled mixes, in salsas and as a garnish.
Chilitepins: These chiles are tiny and seedy red peppers. They are used for seasoning in salsas in combination with other chiles. They are also used in pickling. Warning…they are VERY hot!
You can roast chiles over the top burner of your stove. Make sure to turn frequently to keep the chiles from burning. You can cook three to four chiles at a time. When the skins turn dark brown and look blistered then remove them from the heat. Wrap the chiles in a damp kitchen towel or paper towel to make the skins easier to remove.
Chiles can be roasted in an oven as well. Place the chiles onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350º F. until the skins are brown and blistered. After roasting, wrap the chiles in a damp kitchen towel for a few minutes. Then remove the skins.
You can also dry chiles. To dry chiles, make a chile “garland.” Sting chiles up by their stems to make a cluster. Let them hang to dry by placing them in a very dry place until they become dry. Fresh green chiles turn from green to red when left to dry out. Dried chiles are ready to use when they are crackly-dry.
Chile garlands can also be used for decorations in your kitchen, living room or patio. These sartas or ristras are a characteristic sight in the Southwest.
To use dried chiles, just soak them in a hot water bath until they are softened. Open the chiles up and remove the stem and seeds. Puree them in a food processor or blender. Add small amounts of water to process. If the chiles are hot then add a water and vinegar mixture to help tame the chiles. When a chili paste is made then make sure to pass through a sieve to make a smooth paste. Season the paste as you desire to make salsas or for cooking.