El Azteca Mexican Kitchen & Bar

El Azteca Mexican Kitchen & Bar, is a stylish restaurant located near Yaletown / Roundhouse Station. The tequila & mezcal specialists was a location that impressed us on a recent Tasting Plates event. Having just had a small tasting on the event, we decided to return to explore more of their full menu’s flavours.

I’d always been intrigued (and a bit worried) as to why it never seems busy when I walk past on my commute home from work, but have since realized that its clientele appears to eat later in the evening.  It was busier when we arrived about 7pm and then was quite busy when we left just over an hour later.

We sampled a few items from the menu and were pleased with everything from the taste to the price.  The varied menu and massive tequila & mezcal menu makes it a tough decision to settle on what to choose.

Starting off with the day’s special; Queso Fundido a rich and creamy zesty melted cheese and sausage mix, eaten with tortillas.
For a main, I chose Chorizo Tacos – spicy Chorizo sausage and creamy avocado in warm tortillas.
Billy (@billyforce) chose Carne Asada for his main; chile adobo rubbed, grilled Angus steak strips with rice and refried beans. We also added a side of house made quacamole & chips from their revolving $5 appetizer & drink menu.

Overall everything felt authentically Mexican (not that I’m sure of its authenticity) and judging by the patrons and staff, they seemed to agree.

Try El Azteca Mexican Kitchen & Bar for yourself and get your own taste of Mexico at 1130 Mainland Street, Vancouver.
Open for Lunch and Dinner Tuesday to Sunday.
Call 604.683.0127 or visit aztecavancouver.com for information.

 

Recipe: Enchiladas Oaxaqueñas

After a Friday afternoon cooking demonstration at La Mezcaleria in Vancouver, Chef Susana Trilling shared her recipes with the guests, so we could try the dishes for ourselves at home.

Photo 2014-05-30, 13 07 58ENCHILADAS OAXAQUEÑAS

TORTILLAS IN COLORADITO MOLE OR RED MOLE

This Oaxacan-style dish is the perfect way to use leftover mole sauce.  In Oaxaca, enchiladas are traditionally made with mole coloradito or mole rojo.  We always use queso fresco made by Rosa, our neighbor, but you can find many varieties of this “fresh cheese” in Mexican specialty food stores.  The parsley is important to the dish, as it gives a fresh green taste as well as color.  Enchiladas are red (the mole), white (the cheese and onions), and green (the parsley)–the colors of the Mexican flag, which makes a patriotic dish. ¡Viva Mexico!  You can stuff the triangles with chicken or cheese and fry lightly.  Serve with black beans or with a fried egg for breakfast.  For a heartier meal, serve with a piece of grilled Tasajo, Cecina, or grilled chicken.  These are also nice as a light meal served with a salad.  You can use Mole Negro instead of the Mole Rojo to make Enmoladas.

Makes6 servings

INGREDIENTS

4 cups mole coloradito Oaxaqueño or mole rojo sauce
¼ cup chicken stock, if needed
½ cup sunflower or vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
2 medium white onions, thinly sliced or cut in thin lengthwise wedges
¾ pound queso fresco, crumbled
24 sprigs (1¼ cup) flat-leaf parsley, leaves only

METHOD

In an 8-inch cast-iron frying pan over medium heat, heat the mole sauce to a boil, stirring constantly.  Lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add a little stock or water to thin the mole so that it just coats the back of a spoon, no more.  Keep the mole hot.

In another 8-inch cast-iron frying pan, heat the oil until smoking hot.  Fry each tortilla quickly, on both sides until soft and then drain.  Place atortilla in the mole sauce and coat both sides with the sauce.  Place the coated tortilla on a plate and fold it in half, then fold it again to make a triangle.  Repeat with another tortilla.  Lay the second tortilla on top of the first with the points going in the same direction.  Spoon more sauce on top.  Garnish with some onion slices, queso fresco, and parsley.  Repeat with the othertortillas, two per plate.  Serve immediately.

Hint: If you get fresh, hot tortillas made with nixtamal, you can place them directly into the sauce and omit frying them.

 

Excerpted from ¨Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico
¨

(Ballantine Books, November 1999, ISBN 0-345-42596-0)

Recipe: Mole Coloradito Oaxaqueño

After a Friday afternoon cooking demonstration at La Mezcaleria in Vancouver, Chef Susana Trilling shared this recipe for Mole Coloradito Oaxaqueño taken from her cookbook ¨Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico¨.

 
“OAXACAN COLORADITO MOLE

I learned to make this flavorful combination of chiles and spices from my friend and teacher Carlota Santos.  She has a little restaurant in her home where my partner, Eric, used to eat quite often before I came to live in Oaxaca.  She always joked that she lost her best customer when I started to cook here, but gained a friend in me when she taught me the dishes she knew he liked to eat!  I spent hours in her kitchen learning about this mole and the tamales and enchiladas you can make with the leftovers.

Makes 8 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

Seasoning ingredients for chicken stock (double the recipe)
1½ chickens (about 4½ pounds), cut into 8 servings, reserving the back and neck for stock
9 chiles anchos (about 4½ ounces), stemmed and seeded
11 chiles guajillos (about 2¼ ounces), stemmed and seeded
2 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 whole allspice
1 piece of Mexican cinnamon stick, about 1 inch long
1 small head garlic, cloves separated
1 small white onion, quartered
1 pound ripe tomatoes (2 medium to large round or 8-10 plum), quartered
1 sprig fresh marjoram or Oaxacan oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lard, sunflower or vegetable oil
½ large ripe plantain, in peel
½ bolillo or French roll, sliced
1 tablespoon raisins
5 whole, unpeeled almonds
2 tablespoons lard, sunflower or vegetable oil
½ cup sesame seeds
2 bars Mexican chocolate (3 ounces each), or to taste
1½ – 2 tablespoons sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon sugar

 

METHOD

In a heavy 7-quart stockpot, heat 6 quarts water and the seasoning ingredients to a boil.  Add the chicken pieces and lower heat to simmer.  Cover and cook the chicken for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and the juices run clear when the dark meat is pierced with a fork.  Remove the chicken, strain, and reserve the stock.

Wrap the plantain in tin foil to cover completely and place in a 350° oven and allow to roast for 35 minutes. The skin will burst open and the flesh will look transparent. If you are working with a comal and wood fire, place the plantain directly on the coals to roast.

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil.  On a 10-inch dry comal, griddle or in a cast-iron frying pan over low heat, toast the chiles on both sides, toasting the chiles anchos a bit slower and longer than the chiles guajillos, because of their thicker skins.  Toast them on both sides until their skins start to blister and they give off their aroma.  Remove the chilesfrom the comal or pan, place them in a medium bowl, and cover with the hot water.  Soak the chiles for 20 minutes, turning to soften them.  Puree in the blender, using as little of the chile water as possible, about 1½ cups.  Pass the puree through a food mill to remove the skins.

On the comal, griddle or cast iron frying pan, toast the peppercorns, cloves, allspice and cinnamon stick, and remove from the heat.  Slowly grill the garlic and onions, turning them often until they become translucent.  Cool them, then puree the spices, onion and garlic in a blender with ½ cup of the reserved stock.  Set aside.

In a medium frying pan, over medium heat, cook tomato pieces and marjoram or oregano with no oil and cook until condensed, 10 to 15 minutes.  First they will give off their juices, then they will dry out.  Puree the tomato mixture in a blender, then pass the mixture through a sieve or food mill.

In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of lard or oil over medium heat and fry the bread slices until brown.  Remove them from the pan. In the same oil fry the raisins until they are plump, about 1-2 minutes.  Remove them from the pan.  Fry the almonds until light brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove them from the pan. Remove and unpeel the plantain and place it with the bolillo, raisins and almonds in a blender with 1½ cups of the reserved broth and blend until smooth.  Wipe out the frying pan and put over low heat.  Add 1 teaspoon of oil and the sesame seeds and fry until brown, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  If they bounce around a lot in the pan add a good pinch of sea salt and the seeds will calm down. Cool the seeds and grind in a molcajete or spice grinder, or in a blender with a little bit of broth, blending very well.  You can also grind the seeds in a Cuisinart with ½ teaspoon of vegetable oil to make a smooth paste.

In a heavy 6-quart stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons cup of lard or oil over high heat until smoking.  Add the chile puree a little at a time stirring constantly.  It will splatter about a bit, but keep stirring.  Lower heat to medium and after about 20 minutes, or when chile puree is thick, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, about 15 minutes, stirring to keep the mole from sticking or burning.  Add the onion and ground spices mixture and stir well.  Add the pureed plantain mixture and ground sesame seeds, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes.  Add 4½ – 5 cups of the reserved broth to thin out the sauce, little by little, constantly stirring and let it heat completely through, about 30 minutes more. Add the chocolate, stirring constantly.  When the chocolate dissolves, add the salt and sugar, if needed.  If the mole gets caught in throat, add more stock to balance the flavors. If it tastes like pure chile add sea salt bit by bit letting it dissolve each time to allow all the other flavors come through. It takes more salt than you may think! Let it cook down for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The more time it has to cook the better.

Return the chicken pieces to the broth and heat through.  Add more broth to the mole if needed.  The mole should be thick enough to just coat a spoon, no more.  Place a piece of chicken on a serving plate and ladle ¾ cup mole on top.  It should completely cover the meat.  Serve with hot corn tortillas.

Hint: You can use turkey, pork or rabbit instead of chicken.  At Easter we use white beans, dried shrimps and a green herb called romeritos in mole coloradito. In  the Sierra, it is made with wild mushrooms foraged from the woods. You can use the rest for Tamales Oaxaqueños made with banana leaves or Enchiladas Oaxaqueñas.

You should make this mole at least one day ahead, as the flavors will blend together better.  The sauce freezes well too. “