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Authentic Mexican food for beginners

Many of us who enjoy Hispanic dishes do not traditionally hail from Mexico or surrounding countries. Regardless, the dishes served in these regions have delighted us worldwide.

From the special ingredients to a unique combination of flavors, Hispanic cuisine offers something exceptional. And it’s not the latest burrito from Taco Bell or throwing salsa on tortilla chips.

For a beginner, trying to whip up an ethnic dish can be intimidating.

But truth be told, many Mexican dishes are very simple. With just a few basic ingredients, anyone can recreate a traditional, mouthwatering meal. We’re here to break down some basic Mexican dishes that anyone can make.

Meals on a Tortilla

One of the first things that come to mind when picturing Mexican food is the tortilla. The tortilla is truly a quintessential staple of all Hispanic food. Tortillas are the bread of all Hispanic and Mexican dishes. And their beauty is in their versatility.

Authentic Mexican dishes use corn tortillas.  Flour tortillas are generally used in Tex-Mex and American-Mexican meals. Corn tortillas can be relatively difficult and time-consuming to make. They are more often purchased to avoid the hassle.

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A tortilla can be filled with almost anything.

The well-known taco is simply a fried and filled tortilla. Tacos are a very traditional element of Mexican cuisine. There are a few basic ingredients that make Mexican tacos unique.

Meat: Tacos are all about the meat. All kinds of meat are used for Mexican tacos, but generally, beef or pork is used for the filling. Typically this meat is marinated in spices overnight to tenderize and enhance the flavors.

Steak: Different types of steak are common filling. Skirt, flank, or flap steak are generally used.

The key to having good meat is a quality cut of steak and a flavorful marinade. The marinade can be pretty simple, but it needs plenty of time to make the steak juicy and tender.

A basic marinade includes oil, fruit juice or soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, onions, and cilantro. Combine these and marinate the steak for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

When it’s time to cook the meat, it is cut into small strips or bite-size pieces. Then it is cooked over a grill, on the stove, or in the oven. All forms are used.

For a perfect steak-filled tortilla, try this flap steak fajita recipe.

Offal Meat: Another common filling for tacos is a variety of offal meat. Offal meat is taken from beef organs or more muscular parts of the animal. Though not as common as steak, these types of meat definitely fit the definition of “unique” and “authentic”.

Mexican dishes often include organ meat in their dishes and tacos are no exception.

Tripe and Other Meats: Tripe comes from the stomach lining of a cow. It makes a great filling because it’s thin and has a mild flavor. For something truly authentic and very simple try this tripas tacos recipe.

Other common offal meat fillings include oxtail, tongue, and brain. These meats are pretty similar in that they require a long, slow cook. But given the time, they make a delicious meat filling.

The Toppings: Tacos found in Mexico are not loaded with toppings. They are kept very simple.

Good toppings for a traditional taco include cilantro, salsa, and lettuce. Some might offer cheese. Lime juice is also commonly found. But none of these are meant to overpower the taco.

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Quesadillas are another mainstay of Mexican culture. Cheese is the highlight of the quesadilla.

The Spanish word for cheese is “queso.” Thus, the name literally means “cheesy thing.”

Because the ingredients are so simple (tortillas, cheese, and salsa), this is one recipe that may be worth taking the time to make the tortillas. Homemade or not, the cheese quesadilla is about as versatile and varied as the regions they come from.

Quesadillas can also be meat or veggie-filled, served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Just like the taco is all about the meat. The quesadilla is all about the cheese. And good cheese is not hard to come by in Mexico.

The Best Food With Basic Ingredients

Don’t be fooled by the lack of ingredients. Mexicans know how to make some of the best food with a few basic items. And if that’s not the perfect starting place for a beginner cook, we don’t know what is.

Written by Beth Smith
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