131 pages; Color Photography
Chronicle Books, San Francisco 1996
Reviewed for Good Cooking by Richard T. Chang 12/02
Reed Hearon has written a grilling cookbook like no other. It combines the love
Americans have for grilling with the flavors and techniques of Mexico. Along
with authentic Mexican recipes, the book contains wonderful color photographs of
the food and people of the area, taken by Laurie Smith,
Chef Hearon uses many ingredients that may not be common to the average American
palette. In the beginning of the book, he provides a detailed description of many of the exotic
ingredients. As part of writing this review, I sampled several recipes and to my delight,
these spicy dishes had wonderful exotic flavors. However, you may discover, as I did,
that a few ingredients may be difficult to find in your neighborhood grocery or specialty food store. Luckily, the author provides several mail order sources in the back of the book.
Though many of us may be familiar with chicken brochettes (p. 69), skirt steak fajitas (p. 94) and guacamole (p. 43), the recipes that Chef Hearon put on paper are unlike any dishes you will find in your local Tex-Mex restaurant. The use of dried, smoked jalapeno peppers in the chipotle rub gives the chicken brochettes and the fajitas a wonderful smoky and quite spicy taste. The addition of either the authentic guacamole or the taqueria guacamole is a great addition to both dishes. The creamy fresh taste of the ripe avocados is refreshing after taking a bite of the spicy meat.
As a lover of seafood, I was happy to see recipes on this topic for the grill. For the book review, the first two dishes I prepared were the shrimp with tamarind recado (p. 51) and the seared spiced tuna (p. 55). The
tamarind recado on the shrimp and the dry spices on the tuna gave the seafood vibrant flavor. The charred habanero salsa was extremely spicy but very flavorful for such a simple salsa. The simple salad with the orange vinaigrette that accompanied the tuna was very
refreshing; the salad combined the sweet citrus flavors of mango and orange with the slight bitterness and crunch of the frisee and endive. The addition of the chopped mint leaf in the vinaigrette put the salad over the top. The orange vinaigrette was so good, my wife had it again on a salad for lunch the next day. The grilled snapper with charred habanero salsa (p. 57), like all the other recipes I tried, was outstanding. Any chance I can get to cook a whole fish is always a great experience.
There is one caution that I have to give to anyone attempting the recipes in this book. Be aware of the heat, the spiciness, of the dish. Many of the dishes require the use of recados, rubs and salsas containing quite a substantial amount of hot
chilies, examples being the tamarind recado (p. 29), the chipotle rub (p. 31) and especially the charred habanero salsa (p.39). Chef Hearon has presented a great book on grilling and Mexican cuisine. Do not be taken aback by the spiciness of many of the dishes. By all means make the recipes, since they are well worth the effort, but hold back on the amount chili peppers. Add a little bit at a time, while sampling as you go, until one gets to the desired heat.
Good Cooking found this book helpful. It covers grilling in the Mexican style all in understandable language. This book has been around since 1996. It is well worth searching for!
Seared Spiced Tuna
Pan de cabazon, "shark bread," is a favorite of the port of Campeche. This contemporary version uses tuna instead of shark, serving it along with the traditional smooth black beans, roasted tomatoes, and a refreshing, bittersweet salad of mango, blood oranges, and greens. The effect is the same as pan de cabazon, but lighter and cleaner in flavor. This is one of the most requested dishes I have served over the years.
First prepare the Oaxacan-Style Black Beans and Charred Habanero Salsa. Light the grill and let burn down to a medium-hot fire. In the meantime, pull off the stem and remove the seed core from the bell pepper. Cut lengthwise between the lobes, cut out the veins, and shake out any seeds. Peel each section of outer skin with a sharp, swivel-bladed vegetable peeler. Chop the pepper; you should have 1/2 cup. In a medium-sized, nonreactive bowl, toss together with the mango, orange, frisee, endive, cilantro, and vinaigrette. Set aside.
Reheat the black beans. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the tortillas to the oil, 1 at a time, and fry on both sides until crisp, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels, salt lightly, and keep warm.
Mix black pepper, coriander, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. Dip tuna in egg white, then roll it in the pepper mixture. Score tuna to mark 1/2-inch-thick slices. Oil grill and grill fish until cooked approximately 1/2 inch deep on each side, about 1 minute per side. You want to leave a 1-inch square of red, rare tuna in the center of each piece of fish.
To serve, place 2 tortillas on each plate. Spoon black beans onto tortillas. Slice tuna into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange tuna over beans. Top with a spoonful of salsa and some of the mango salad. Serve at once.
Charred Habanero Salsa (recipe below)
1 small red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced mango
1 small blood or regular orange, segmented 2 handfuls frisee (curly endive) or escarole
1 small head Belgian endive, cut into1/4-inch-thick rings
About 20 fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup Orange Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons corn oil, plus more for oiling grill
8 small tortillas
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh tuna fillet, cut into 2 pieces, about 2 by 2 by 6 inches each
Orange Vinaigrette: This is a great, all-purpose Mexican salad dressing. Makes about 1/4 cup.
Mix all the ingredients together in a small, nonreactive bowl. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice 1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon pineapple vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil or olive oil
1 fresh mint leaf, chopped
Oaxacan-Style Black Beans with Avocado Leaves
Serves 4 to 6
These are the best black beans there are. The fragrance of the avocado leaves is exotic, transporting you to a pre-Hispanic Mexico. Once the beans are cooked and pureed, they should be very loose, soft, and perfectly smooth. If you add a little more water and some crumbled, fried pasilla chiles, the beans make a perfect soup. These beans can also be baked in a 300 F oven for about 2 hours.
Ingredients:4 avocado leaves
Ingredients:1 cup corn oil