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Kate Ramos is a food blogger with a passion for Mexican and Central American cuisine. She channels this passion and her creative energies into the website ¡Hola! Jalapeño, an indulgent exploration of Latin American-inspired cuisine and cultures. As a former food editor, chef, and recipe developer, she crafts delectable dishes with a fun international flair.
Recently, Kate took time out of her day to discuss the secret to crafting delicious Central American recipes.
I have always been interested in learning about new cuisines, and as a chef, I worked with many people from all over Mexico and Central America. It was during this time spent working shoulder-to-shoulder with my Latin co-workers in restaurant kitchens, that I learned about their countries’ gastronomy.
What I love about the Central American region and their unique foods is how they take essentially the same ingredients or recipe concepts and make them their own. For example, every Central American country has a tamal, but each country puts their own spin on it. In Costa Rica, they are filled with chickpeas, sweet peppers, and olives, and in Honduras, the masa of the tamales are flavored with sour orange juice then filled with rice, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables.
Central America is home to some of the world’s best and most unique fruits. It’s what makes eating in the region so exciting and cooking Central American food so challenging if you live elsewhere. Many types of produce you can find in Central America are nearly impossible to find once you leave or it certainly is not the same quality. The secret to recreating these recipes at home is to shop at your local Latin market and try to find the ingredients that make these dishes special.
One of my favorite Central American dishes is from El Salvador and is called Pupusas. These masa cakes are really simple to make at home and can be filled with anything from cheese to meat. This recipe is filled with flavorful black beans, and they’re great on their own. To make them really special, however, you need to make the Lime Curtido, which is a type of fermented cabbage slaw. It is El Salvador’s version of sauerkraut or kimchee and is really delicious.
For the Lime Curtido:
510 grams green cabbage, shredded
115 grams carrots, thinly sliced
85 grams white onion, thinly sliced
Zest of 1 lime
12 grams salt
30 grams jalapeño, thinly sliced
For the Pupusas:
2 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 recipe Simple Black Beans, mashed
Vegetable oil for cooking
Please click on the link to obtain the full instructions for Kate’s Black Bean-Stuffed Pupusas recipe.
¡Hola! Jalapeño features an array of healthy recipes inspired by Latin America. These recipes will allow you to incorporate more authentic Mexican and Central American cuisine into your family’s meal rotation. Kate’s website also features plenty of mouthwatering and innovative desserts, like Meyer Lemon Tres Leches Strawberry Shortcake, that you won’t want to miss. And when you’re ready for the ultimate family adventure, check out our Costa Rica Family Adventure.
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