23 Jan

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce


My friend Doug shows an excessively high (and much appreciated) amount of enthusiasm for my Mexican cooking. The manifestation of his excitement is often flattering, sometimes threatening (in a well intended, happy aggressive kind of way – those of you who know Doug know what I’m talking about). He once told me bluntly to “… put all the other shit aside, forget it and cook awesome food”. This is perhaps not quite what he said at all, but Doug won’t mind if I misquote him. One night after a Mexican banquet that had taken me the best part of two days to prepare to serve to our 50 guests at a ‘5 de Mayo’ fiesta at our place last year, I knew I’d hit the jackpot when I was abruptly lifted off my feet and flung around in a series of 360’s – another marvellous expression of gratitude from Doug. People like Doug, and another mate Steve who’ll lurk around the kitchen well after supper time and well passed tipsy going gaga about the smell of cornmeal and chipotle peppers wofting out of the tamale steamer, are the reason I love to cook.

Doug once asked me what he needed to cook great Mexican. There is no short answer to this question regarding a cuisine that boasts ancient and extraordinary dishes like Mole Poblano, which (in some versions of the recipe) uses over 40 ingredients. From the simplest salsa to the most mouth watering Mole, from time consuming tamales to two minute tacos, steaming hot sopa de tortilla and crisp, delicious zopes (little fried corn baskets topped with beans, shredded meat and salsa), I LOVE MEXICAN. Old El Paso and Doritos can get lost – you only need simple ingredients to cook authentic and fresh Mexican food, oh and time. Lots and lots of time is well worth spending on some recipes. Alternatively, if you can’t be bothered, go out to eat at El Torito Restaurant, West End (plug plug).

When I moved back to Brisbane after spending most of the first half of my twenties in Melbourne I got a job at El Torito Restaurant, Boundary Street, West End. The family who run the restaurant welcomed me into their well established and extremely popular business with open hearts and a friendliness I’ve not known in a work environment before or since. With three years of University Spanish under my belt and a desperate desire to maintain and improve my language skills (my other, if neglected, passion) it was the perfect job to have. I worked four or five hour shifts speaking Spanish only in the kitchen and often serving Spanish speaking customers. It was a really enriching experience. I actually enjoyed being a waitress.

It didn’t take me long after starting at El Torito to appreciate and love the food from the tiny kitchen as much as the people. If the saying ‘You are what you eat’ has ever been proven, it was proven to me at El Torito. Beautiful, vibrant, gentle, unstressed, genuine food, just like the people who cooked it. I have fond memories of competing in home-made habañero sauce tolerance competitions with Carlos and Abner in the kitchen, dipping as much of a corn chip in the salsa picante as we were game to. Unfortunately we had minimum recovery time in order to compose ourselves and relocate our sanity before either returning to the long line of orders posted above the pass, or to the front of house to serve more hungry customers, eyes watering, mouth on fire and barely able to see straight. But hey, my credibility was on the line. Chilli is very important to Mexican food (and pride, I suspect, spoken as a true gringa!) and there are at least 12 varieties I’ve used. I’m sure there are many more.

The product photographed above is one example of an ingredient which helps produce quick and easy Mexican that is healthy and has an authentic flavour. I have found it harder to locate in Brisbane than Melbourne but I know two places where it is often (if not usually) on the shelf – Samio’s at 36 Annerley Road in Wooloongabba and the Euro Deli in Russel Street, West End. You may not find the brand pictured above, but there are several others available and the product is more or less identical. When you blend them and combine them with a few other simple ingredients, you can make a rich, spicy, sweet and tangy sauce for slow cooking meat to serve in tacos and other Mexican dishes.

Stay tuned for a simple pulled pork taco recipe, using these chillies. ¡Olé!



  1. Kitty kat January 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    We’re hopefully trying the ribs tomorrow. If we can get our hand on some puerco! We’ll keep you posted. Love your blog!!!!

  2. Dave February 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Salivating just reading…where is the pulled pork? I want it…NOW!

    • Claire February 7, 2011 at 8:36 am #

      Coming right up! I’ll do it tonight or tomorrow and I’ll even freeze some for ya!

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