Hispanic cuisine is not just limited to Spanish tortillas and Mexican nachos. Instead, you would find various dishes hailing from different Hispanic countries, including Cuba, Ecuador, and El Salvador. Though the culinary styles and ingredients are pretty much similar, each delicacy stands out from the other in taste. Here’s a list of some of the finger-licking Hispanic foods you must try for a flavorful delight and to get an insight into the Hispanic culture or celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Tortilla Espanola, meaning Spanish tortilla, is a delicious traditional stuffed omelet dish. It’s quick and easy to prepare, with sautéed onions and potatoes in a beaten egg mixture. The preparation is cooked in oil until it becomes thick and fluffy and develops a beautiful golden brown outer crust. One of the favorite foods of Spain, tortilla Espanola can be enjoyed anytime and tastes yummy with a traditional tomato salad, guacamole, or Spanish rice.
Arepas are corn tortillas that are a staple in Venezuela and Columbia. They can be grilled, fried, or baked as per one’s choice. While the exterior is slightly crunchy, the insides are soft and fluffy. Savory fillings of black beans or shredded beef commonly go inside it. However, it’s not uncommon to find them with toppings like melted cheese or traditional salads.
Stuffed peppers are attractive in appearance and delicious and flavorsome in taste, eaten widely in Hispanic countries like Mexico and Spain. It includes colorful local poblano peppers that are hollowed out, roasted, and stuffed with rice, ground meat, vegetables, and spices. Topped with cheese, the dish is baked until the cheese melts, and the peppers attain a slightly crispy skin. Sometimes, a traditional red sauce called salsa roja is poured for an extra spicy and tangy taste.
Mole (pronounced mo-lay) is a typical spicy Mexican sauce poured over meat or seafood preparations. Traditionally, chili, sesame seeds, nuts, and various spices and condiments are included in making it. With its spicy, smoky, and earthy notes, the sauce makes any dish taste heavenly. Often, dark chocolate is also added to make it slightly bitter-sweet. Though Mexican mole takes long hours to prepare, the patience and hard work is worth it.
A popular seafood dish in many Latin American countries, ceviche comes in different variations. Though raw fish is the main ingredient, you’ll also find it made with shrimps or a combination of various seafood, including clams, octopus, shrimps, etc. It’s tangy and savory, with other ingredients like lemon juice, onions, and different spices going into its preparation. Served in small quantities in bowls or cocktail glasses, ceviche is an excellent option for a refreshing start to any meal. You’ll also find ceviche served at weddings and other special occasions.
Paella is a visually appealing and aromatic rice delicacy originating in Valencia. Traditionally prepared in a paella pan, the dish has local short rice called arroz bomba as its base with sautéed vegetables and seafood or meat. Besides, the inclusion of saffron gives it a gorgeous yellow-colored appearance. Spain’s national dish, paella, has a blend of flavors and textures to enjoy. The grains at the pan’s base, usually called Valencian caviar, attain a crunchy texture which is one of the best bites of the dish.
Gallo pinto is a delicious combination of rice and beans eaten mainly in Costa Rica and other Central American countries. Its name means ‘spotted rooster’ in Spanish due to the speckled appearance of the beans when mixed with white rice. Other ingredients like onion, peppers, cilantro, and a vegetable-based sweet and spicy Lizano sauce make the dish more rich and flavorful. A vegetarian’s favorite, gallo pinto, is a satisfying meal that locals enjoy with sides like fried or scrambled eggs, ripe plantains, cheese, or tortillas.
A classic Cuban beef delicacy, ropa vieja is found in different variations all across Latin America. It typically includes beef meat that is poached, shredded, and slow-cooked with vegetables and spices like tomatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, and cumin. Ropa vieja is often preferred to be served with white rice and fried plantains for a delicious, hearty meal. Its name means rags, as the shredded meat dish resembles a pile of ripped clothes.
Mexico’s common street food, elote corn, refers to grilled corn on the cob platter. Usually, white corns are preferable in the preparation instead of sweet corns. Once the corn is roasted over an open grill, it is smeared with mayonnaise or sour cream, butter, chili powder, and salt. Before serving, it is drizzled all over with lemon juice. The ideal combination of the corn’s natural sweetness and the sweet and spicy additional flavors will make you want to have more after the first bite.
Elote corns are also popularly enjoyed for Thanksgiving dinner or other special occasions in Latin America. If you don’t prefer eating your corn right from the cob as it might be messy, you could try its substitute called esquites. Many Mexican street vendors sell them in a cup after removing them from the cob.
An authentic Hispanic food, tajadas refer to fried plantains that are simple and easy to make. Its preparation includes cutting the ripe plantains diagonally and deep-frying the pieces in oil until they turn golden brown. Served hot, tajadas make an ideal side dish to white rice and many meat preparations. One can also eat it plain for a quick snack or a dessert. Make sure to use the ripe yellow plantains and not the green ones for the soft texture and sweet taste.
One of Mexico’s renowned street foods, tacos are widely eaten all over America. It contains a taco shell loaded with various stuffing as per one’s choice, like sliced or minced meat like pork, beef, or lamb. The juicy insides have generous toppings of vegetables and cheese or sour cream for a crunchy and creamy texture.
While the traditional Mexican tacos have a soft corn tortilla shell, you will also find it having fried taco shells. Though the hard ones have a hard and crunchy texture, the soft ones are tastier and hold more fillings.
Another addition to the list of Mexican street foods, enchiladas are stuffed and rolled tortilla treats. It contains pre-cooked corn tortillas that are folded or rolled around a chicken, vegetable, cheese, or a combination of all fillings, and bathed with a savory red sauce. More cheese is added on top before baking the dish. The soft textures of enchiladas make it melt in the mouth with flavors exploding.
Enchiladas hold a special place in Mexican cuisine that Mexicans celebrate the 5th of May every year as the “National Enchiladas Day.” Though you will find many forms of enchilidas, enchiladas de pollo or chicken enchiladas are one of the most common ones.
Tamales are Mexican delicacies consisting of corn masa fillings in corn husks or banana leaves. Before wrapping the filling, ingredients like meat or beans, veggies, and cheese go inside the corn-based dough, called masa. With toppings of pico de gallo, tamales are best enjoyed with guacamole and rice on the side. The delicious savory delights are a must-have during the Christmas holidays.
The crescent-shaped dish has many variations depending on the different Hispanic regions. It comprises a flour dough wrapped around any savory or sweet fillings. The savory ones include a combination of meat and veggies or beans, while the sweet counterparts mostly have a traditional caramelized milk filling called dulce de leche. The flaky exterior with juicy or smooth fillings is lip-smacking and irresistible.
A type of the iconic Mexican salsa, pico de gallo includes fresh veggies, mainly onions, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. While the jalapenos give it a spicy kick, the lime juice makes the dish tangy. A refreshing summer treat, pico de gallo is quite versatile. You can have it as toppings on any breakfast or snack dish like enchiladas, burritos, tacos, or nachos. It also makes a yummy with tortilla chips or tostadas.
Nachos are a Tex-Mex dish comprising fried tortilla chips loaded with cheese sauce and veggies, meat, and red beans toppings. Additions of sour cream and traditional sauces and spices like salsa, oregano, salt, and pepper give it a flavorful twist. A finger-licking treat, nachos are served while it’s hot and crispy.
Chicken fajita is a classic Tex-Mex cuisine that’s quick to prepare and a sought-after dish in the United States. Its preparation includes marinating the chicken pieces with a blend of freshly squeezed lime juice, olive oil, and various spices and seasonings. The meat pieces are then cooked in a large skillet before slicing them into strips and adding them to sautéed vegetables like onion and bell peppers. As for the serving, chicken fajitas are wrapped inside tortillas with toppings of pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.
A yummy beef casserole dish, tamale pie is a Tex-Mex food enjoyed by the entire United Nations. It includes a well-seasoned ground beef base topped with cheese and cornbread. Veggies like diced tomatoes, olives, onions, and bell peppers also go into the beef mixture to make it tastier. On baking, the meaty base becomes juicy and flavorful, while the topping becomes dense and cheesy with a golden brown appearance. Tamale pie is America’s comfort food that goes best with extra olives, guacamole, rice, and salsa.
An attractive dish, huevos rancheros, is ideal for breakfast. It contains a base of corn tortillas topped with fried eggs and covered with warm salsa. Many also prefer adding refried beans to the preparation to make it healthier and tastier. Served immediately, huevos rancheros are usually enjoyed plain or accompanied with leftover refried beans.
A tasty shrimp appetizer, camarones al ajillo are often included in Spanish tapas for cocktail parties. It consists of well-seasoned shrimps cooked with garlic in olive oil and drizzled with lemon juice. The tangy and garlicky shrimps taste even better when served with vegetable salads, tostones, white wine, or any traditional drink.
A staple in every Mexican household, quesadillas are a corn tortilla-based dish with cheese as its main ingredient. Many alterations can be made in its preparations, with different veggies and meat going as fillings depending on one’s choice. The gooeyness of cheese with the meat’s juiciness and occasional crunches of veggies make it an irresistible treat. Sides like black bean salad, guacamole, and pickled jalapenos go well.
Tostones are twice-fried green plantains that make a tasty appetizer, side dish, or quick snack. The unripe plantains are peeled and sliced before frying in oil. The fried slices are smashed and again fried until crisp and golden on both sides. Served immediately after seasoning with salt, tostones are crispy delights enjoyed with or without a dipping sauce.
Migas is a Tex-Mex breakfast dish initially introduced by the shepherds. It contains crushed tortilla chips, scrambled eggs, jalapenos, and olives, topped with cheese. An easy and super tasty dish, migas is best paired with black beans and avocados to enjoy a wholesome meal.
A classic fusion dish, lomo saltado reflects the Chinese influence in Peruvian cuisine. Its preparation includes the Chinese stir-frying technique to cook tender beef tenderloin after adding a soy sauce and garlic marinade. Chili peppers, onions, tomatoes, and French fries are also added to enhance the taste. You can serve the juicy, flavorful dish with rice for a wholesome meal.
The national food of El Salvador, pupusas, is a corn tortilla dish having various savory fillings. Simple handmade corn tortillas are stuffed with veggies, beans, or meat pieces like pork. Before creating tortilla pockets, cheese is added to enjoy the gooey texture. It’s usually served hot with accompaniments like a relish made with cabbage and carrots.
Many Hispanic dishes include veggies, meat, beans, and cheese, making them a visually appealing and flavorsome treat. While drooling at the delicacies mentioned above, don’t miss trying out some Hispanic desserts and refreshing drinks, like arroz con leche, flan, agua fresco, and fresh lime margarita.
Best Hispanic Breakfast Dishes: Huevos Rancheros, Migas, Enchiladas de Pollo
Best Hispanic Christmas Dishes: Tamales, Enchiladas de Pollo
Best Hispanic Wedding Foods: Pico de Gallo, Ceviche, Enchiladas de Pollo
Best Hispanic Vegetarian Dishes: Gallo Pinto,Pico de Gallo, Huevos Rancheros
Best Hispanic Side Dishes: Tajadas, Tostones,Elote Corn
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