A real Mexican heaven in Ireland

Arroz con Platano Frito – Rice with Fried Banana October 17, 2011

Filed under: Side,Starter — Wendy Tapia @ 6:00 am
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Many childhood memories come to my mind when I think about this recipe. I cannot speak on behalf of every Mexican family, but in mine, white rice was like a ‘children’s dish’ the one that everybody could eat because it had no spices, it had some sweetness to it and it would prepare you to deal better with any spices that the main course could contain.

In Mexico, rice is a versatile accompaniment to countless main courses, this is why we always ensure that it has a colour. Today, we will get started with a lazy version of the white rice, and we will progress by increasing the level of complexity in each post related to rice. I will also explain what rice-colour-style is the most appropriate for certain dishes.

A funny fact is that due to popular believe that cooking a ‘beautiful’ rice is complex, this is recognized as one of the dishes that if well executed, then people will throw compliments linked to marriage: Yes, marriage! We often use a funny and casual expression when it comes to cooking: she is ready to get married! (they say, as they enjoy a nicely prepared meal) I know this may sound disturbing for some people, but it means no offense in Mexican culture, it is actually a great compliment.

We require just a few ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • Salt
  • 1 Plantain (In Dublin, you can find this in the Asian shops, I recommend the ‘Asia Market’ in Drury Street, you will get 3 of them for about 1 or 2 euros)
  • 1 Cup of oil
The ingredients
The first step is to place the rice with the water in a pot or in a rice maker and add salt.

Boiling the rice

Simply cover and leave it to cook, in Mexico it is believed (at least in Mexico City) that ‘rice is jealous’ this means, do not get too busy while you leave the rice cooking or it will burn! but do not move it with a spoon either, this will spoil its shape and consistency, simply keep an eye in it and keep the lid always covering the rice.

While our rice is cooking, peel the plantain* and cut it in slices. In a pot pour cooking oil, just enough for frying, but I would not recommend that you use a fryer at home because the oil may not be as fresh and this will change the flavour of the chips.


*Note: The best plantains for frying, are those that are nearly black and feel soft when you touch them, you will find plantains very green, avoid them or simply wrap them in a paper bag and place them close to a warm place. After a couple of days they will mature and then they will be ready for frying.

Once that the oil is hot, throw the slices of plantain to fry.

Frying plantains

Turn the plantains from time to time, until golden.

Golden plantains

Once golden, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel in order to absorb the excess of oil. When your rice is ready, simply serve the rice and the plantain chips on top. White rice is generally served in coast-style food and seafood dishes.

Buen Provecho!


Pescado a la Veracruzana – Veracruzana Fish October 16, 2011

Filed under: Main Course — Wendy Tapia @ 6:42 pm
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Sundays are a very special day in Mexico; it is time to gather, time to visit family, friends or both. Today’s recipe is a Sunday classic or a great dish to cook for a weekend with friends. Many families actually gather at an early hour of the day to help cooking just doing bits of chopping and chatting away while the pots heat up, so I hope this recipe gives you an excuse to call everybody to the kitchen and chat away while cooking a delicious fish.

Pescado a la Vercruzana can be translated as ‘Veracruzana Fish’, the sauce style comes from ‘Veracruz’. Veracruz is a very unique colonial state in Mexico, it is renowned for its seafood cuisine which is a fusion of coast-style-food and Spanish food.  The amazing thing about this recipe is that all ingredients are widely available! The ingredients required are for this delicious fish are:

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 Finely chopped garlics
  • 6 Large tomatos
  • 2 Potatos
  • 1 Large carrot
  • Ground Pepper
  • Garlic Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Oregano
  • Mixed Herbs (Thyme, sage, and parsley)
  • Black Olives
  • Butter
  • 4 Fillets of fish or a large fish (In Mexico we would generally use Huachinango, however, in Ireland an excellent flavorsome substitute is Seabass)
  • Jalapenio chillies
So, once that we have all ingredients around, your preparation table, should look like this:

All ingredients, ready to go

The first thing is to chop the onion and garlic, while the olive oil warms up in a pot. In another pot, put boiling water, three pinches of salt, the carrot and the potatos to boil (we will use this at a later stage)

Once that the oil is hot, we add the finely chopped onions and garlic.

Leave onion and garlic in the oil until they look transparent

While the onion and garlic are giving all its flavour to the oil, chop the tomatos and add them to the pot as soon as the onion and garlic look transparent.

Adding tomatos

Add the tomatos little by little so your sauce starts getting juicy. At this point you may also add a pinch or two of salt, three pinches of garlic salt, oregano and the mix of herbs. Simmer for 3 minutes, moving it with a spoon from time to time. Your sauce should start looking like this:

Tomato sauce

Now, it is time to take the carrot out of the boiling pot and chop it in small cubes. Then, add the carrot cubes and already chopped olives to the sauce.

Adding olives and carrot cubes

Leave the sauce to simmer for another 3 – 5 minutes. Now, it is time to heat up the pan where we will cook the fish, while the pan is heating up, wash the fish and dry it with a paper towel on both sides, then season with garlic salt and pepper. Once that the pan is hot enough add a spoon of butter and let it melt, then add the fish and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes, the fish will then go into the oven, so avoid over cooking it, as this would dry up the sauce. Repeat the process as many times as required, some people prefer to cook once fillet at a time, it is up to you.

Melting the butter

Adding the seasoned fish

While the fish is ready take out a baking tray that is deep enough to contain the fish and sauce. Take out the potatoes that you boiled earlier and chop them in slices. In the baking tray, first, place a layer of sauce, then place the potatoes on the edges of the tray and then place the fish in the middle.

Tray layers

It is time now to cover the fish with the rest of the sauce. The fish should be totally covered with sauce and look like this:

Tray ready to go into the oven

Place the tray in the oven at 180 degrees, for about 12 – 15 minutes. You can simply take the tray straight to the table and let everybody help themselves or here my presentation suggestion with: jalapenios on top, and on the side a bit of white rice, “macho” banana chips (plantain chips) and veg.

Time to enjoy!

Another suggestion for this dish, if you have the facilities at home, is to get a massive fish and grill it! – You will see the impressed faces of your guests.

Buen Provecho!