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Truly Mexican: Essential Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Mexican Cooking Hardcover – April 19, 2011
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Santibañez, a Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef and owner of the Brooklyn eatery, Fonda, born and raised in Mexico City, didn't set out to pen a "comprehensive" guide to Mexican cooking or the rich history of the country's food, but instead focuses solely on sauces--from salsas to adobos to moles--emphasizing techniques that home cooks can master and use in various dishes. With the goal "to convert as many readers as I could from people who would love to cook Mexican food to people who cook Mexican food they love," the author lays a solid foundation with a chapter on ingredients, technique, and equipment. The 140 recipes include a selection of guacamoles including departures from the classic such as a blue cheese guacamole, an apple-tequila guacamole, and a seafood guacamole. Recipes for adobos lead readers to main courses featuring various proteins such as adobo-braised lamb or a grilled skirt steak marinated in adobo. While one won't find desserts or suggested menus, the author's expertise is conveyed in a straightforward and inspiring tone that will instill confidence in cooks eager to prepare Mexican meals at home, regardless of previous experience or skill level. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, March 2011)
From the Back Cover
Praise for Truly Mexican
"Roberto Santibañez is that rare bird—a great chef and a great teacher—and it's the combination of these talents that makes this book so wonderful. It's an excellent tutorial on Mexican sauces: the ingredients, the techniques, the multiple dishes you can make from each of them, as well as the lip-smacking side dishes that go with them. If you want to cook Mexican food at home more often—and who doesn't?—this is the book for you."
—Sara Moulton, author of Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners
"Truly Mexican breathes the soul and spirit of Mexican cuisine. It is an exceptional book that discloses the essence of Mexican cuisine, from simple street foods like tacos to complex masterpieces like moles. An essential work for anyone who is passionate about this amazing cuisine."
—Mark Miller, author of The Great Chile Book, Tamales, Tacos, and other books
"With this text, Chef Santibañez has moved the understanding of Mexican cuisine forward in a significant way. Although the recipes in this book are, by themselves, a wonderful collection, Roberto delivers them in a format that leaves the reader with true knowledge of the Mexican kitchen."
—Mark Erickson, Certified Master Chef and Vice President–Dean of Culinary Education at The Culinary Institute of America
"Roberto Santibañez's excellent Truly Mexican is a book that should be on the shelves of home cooks who really want to know what Mexican food is all about."
—Zarela Martinez, www.zarela.com
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Then it tells you how to use these ingredients - combinations and techniques to make sauces, adobos and salsas, with a whole section devoted to nut and seed-based sauces. Once you get the hang of it, it's easy to devise your own means to use things you have on hand, rather than assiduously sticking to the recipe (though they themselves are quite detailed and can be made even by novices).
The devil is in the details. For the best guacamole, for instance, the onion, chilies and cilantro need to me mashed to- not chopped - fine with salt before adding the chunked avocado. It makes all the difference. Then you apply this technique to variations you may want to try.
After roasting peppers, soak them and then discard the soaking water. Blending them with fresh water gives a cleaner flavour. Supposedly simple things that make a world of difference.
No chipotle morita peppers? Try anchos instead. Replace the almonds in a sauce with pecans if you wish. Or the vinegar with a dash of tamarind (I do that all the time). I'm from India with almost zero knowledge of traditional Mexican cuisine. I've made several recipes from this book and these far surpass the Mexican food I've eaten in restaurants so far.
I have hundreds of cookbooks, but this one has already seen heavy use since I purchased it last month. The hardcover version is worth it. I didn't realise how nuanced and varied Mexican cuisine really is until I got this book.
And there are those cascabel peppers I first learnt about from this book. I got the pound bag from Amazon. How ever did I cook without them before? Now that I have them, I want to add them to everything.
If you want to master contemporary, true Mexican food, while respecting the rich history and tradition of its roots and origins, I highly recommend this book. If you add this book to your culinary library I also recommend that you not just race into the recipes, but rather you take the time to read and understand the first section (41 pages) titled "Basics" - it sets the stage for what Chef Santibanez provides in the rest of the book.
There are several easy recipes as well as several fairly complex recipes in this book. If for nothing else, buy this for the salsa and guacamole recipes! We also make the Pork Braised in Tomatillo Salsa quite frequently as it's very easy. The adobos are delicious as well. Really you can't go wrong with the recipes in this book. I frequently bring them out for dinner parties and have now even given copies to the rest of my family.
I love the fact that the author primarily presents everything as sauces. As he explains in the beginning, the root of mexican cooking is in its sauces. Everything else is just how you serve the sauces and what you cook in them. So find a sauce you like, tweak it based on his recommendations and then just put the meat into it! The author does include multiple suggestions for each sauce - how to cook with it, types of food to serve it with, etc. He also includes several recipes at the end for integration. I include this caveat because if you would prefer a cookbook with more specific recipes on each page, then this isn't your style of book. But I encourage you to take a look and give it a try - you won't be disappointed.
My only point of heartache has been finding all of the ingredients for each dish, as we live a little outside the city and don't have a ton of diverse grocerers around here. However, I kept the 5-star rating as a) that's our issue, not the book and b) the author does a great job of explaining how to substitute different ingredients for others and what each modification will do to the recipe.
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I'm Mexican by birth, but I've been raised here all of my life.Read more