Sunday, 4 November 2012

Mexican Tortillas with two Sauces

I'd wanted to try my hand at making tortillas for a long time. For advice on how to make this genuine Mexican dish I went to Margaret Flores, my colleague, who spent years living in Mexico and married into a Mexican family.

“All sorts of variations on the tortilla appear in recipe books but most of them are local inventions and are not how they are eaten in Mexico. For instance they would never add lettuce to a tortilla filling.” she said

In  New Zealand she often uses flour tortillas.

“Flour tortillas are a staple in Northern Mexico. In other parts of the country they use corn tortillas which are smaller. These are difficult to find in New Zealand. The packet ones from the supermarket taste dry. When I can find the time I occasionally make them myself with maseca which can be ordered from Mexifoods in Christchurch. They also stock a range of salsas and other Mexican food.”

Her advice is to buy the Woolworths Home brand flour tortillas. Each packet contains 15 tortillas and they are the cheapest and best.

“In Mexico alongside the tortilla there will always be a sauce

“Chilies are usually used in a sauce. But Mexican food does not have to be hot. There are many different kinds of chilies. It’s not how hot they are but their different flavours which interests Mexican cooks. A dish may have eight different kinds of chilies to give the desired complexity of flavours.

Some sauces in Mexico are cooked while others are raw. And in Mexico they would use white onions. Our brown onions are perfectly adequate but they do have a stronger taste.

For a really quick snack her suggestion is to follow three easy steps to create a quesadilla.

                     Fill: Put grated cheese on half of each tortilla. (For a variation you can also add ham.)Then fold it over.

                     Heat: In Mexico a tortilla is always warmed. Slide it into in a warmed fry pan, and when heated through on one side flip it over and warm the other side. Or you can use a George Foreman Grill to toast it.

 Eat with a Sauce: Here are two easy uncooked recipes.

Salsa Cruda:
  • Mix together some chopped tomatoes, a little chopped onion, a green chili, some chopped coriander and lemon juice.

  • Mash an avocado. Add a squeeze of lemon and lime juice, a little chopped onion, chopped tomatoes and coriander. Add salt to taste.
Once I had mastered the basic tortilla I tried my hand at a sincronizada. For this the flour tortilla is left unfolded.


Fry some chopped bacon and onion.
Mash in a tin of borlotti beans.
Mix the bacon and onion into this. This is a simplified way of making refried beans. Spread some of this mixture onto the tortilla.
Add a slice of ham, some grated cheese and a little chilli.
Place a second tortilla on top.
Lift the sincronizada into a warmed heavybottomed fry pan ( not too hot or it will burn) There is no need to add oil. When heated on one side flip it over and warm the other.


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