Thursday, February 8, 2018

Huevos Rancheros | 墨西哥農場煎蛋早餐

For many people, a particular dish brings memories or harbors significant emotions. It could be your mom's hand wrapped dumplings, the ramen that you subsisted on during late-night college days, or even Jagerbombs (just the thought of it makes my insides turn - I will spare you on the details).

I remember my very first taste of huevos rancheros, a humble, staple Mexican desayuno freshly cooked up in a community kitchen where we started our days volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in an impoverished neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

That was now nearly fifteen years ago, I then a more rotund college Junior, criminally misinformed and ignorant about Mexican cuisine after years of cattle-feeding on soupy enchiladas and goopy "salsa" poured out from factory-sized tubs a.k.a. high school lunch grub. These huevos rancheros were vibrant in color, the frijoles refritos soul-warming, the sunny-side-up perfectly crisped on the edges, the spicy red salsa fresh and well-balanced, and the tortilla underneath them all golden and crunchy. It had me asking for more. It was something I have never had before. A moment of revelation, a culinary discovery. Had I have a smartphone back then (those were the days before terms like selfies and food porn came to be), I would have most likely snapped one too many photos. Fortunately, the memories and experience live on. I can still recall the face of the lady who lovingly prepared and served us meals, her painted, arched eyebrows, her wide smile, and warmhearted hospitality.

Fire-roasted tomatoes for maximum flavor
Fifteen years later, I finally put this itch to rest. I have been procrastinating for too long to revisit this memory. And thus I picked up a few things from the groceries on my recent layover in Los Angeles, scoured through my pantry, invited a dear friend over to be my guinea pig, and made huevos rancheros.

Huevos rancheros - "rancher's-style" eggs - are basically eggs served on a corn tortilla with a spicy tomato-chili salsa - a simple, stress-free, quick affair with minor variations in accompaniments across different households and regions. I like mine served with refried black beans ('coz why not?) for extra fiber and dimension, just like how I remembered. The tortilla can be either crunchy fried (more like a tostada) or lightly charred according to preference, so long it holds the wet sauce without disintegrating into mush.

Chile Guajillo, adds depth and smokiness
For the recipe, I base mine mostly on J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's from Serious Eats. For the red sauce, make use of tinned tomatoes to make your life easy - if you can find fire-roasted tomatoes in a can, all the better. I followed his suggestions and tossed in toasted Mexican dried chilies (I happen to have dried Guajillo chilies sitting in the back of my cramped pantry) for extra depth and smokiness. Substitute with Chinese dried chilies or crushed red pepper if unavailable. To finish the dish, top with crumbled cheese, cilantro, avocado, sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh jalapeños and add a side of Mexican street corn as desired.

A fiesta for the eyes, a party for your tastebuds!
What you'll need...
1 medium onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 whole dried Mexican chilies (ancho, guajillo, or morita)*
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14 oz. (400 g) can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
2 whole chipotle chilies packed in adobo from can
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, stem and leaves, plus more for serving
Squeeze of lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Fresh corn tortillas
Canned or homemade black or pinto refried beans, heated, for serving
Crumbled Cotija cheese^, for serving
Avocado, for serving (optional)
Sliced cherry tomatoes, for serving (optional)

* If not available, substitute with Chinese dried chilies or crushed red pepper flakes.
^ I used crumbled queso fresco. If neither are available, substitute with crumbled feta cheese.


1. Trim tops off the dried chilies and discard seeds. Pop into microwave and heat on High for 15 minutes until softened and fragrant. Snip into thin strips and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil and add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add oregano, cumin, and chili strips and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add tomatoes and chipotle chilies with their sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Puré mixture with an immersion blender or in a blender. Stir in cilantro, soy sauce, a squeeze lime, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

4. In a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan, heat oil and lightly fry corn tortillas one at a time, until lightly charred on each side but still pliable. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and stack them as you go. Cover with foil to keep warm.

5. Using the same skillet or separate pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Fry eggs, using a spoon to baste the tops with hot oil as they cook in order to help set the upper whites while keeping the yolk completely runny. Fry until crisp on the bottom and edges and whites are set. Season with salt and pepper.

6. To serve, smear refried beans on each tortilla, top with a fried egg, and spoon salsa over the top, keeping the yolk exposed. Finish with a sprinkle of cotija cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, and minced cilantro a Enjoy immediately. Buen provecho!



洋蔥  1 小個  切絲
蒜頭  3 瓣  剁碎
墨西哥乾辣椒  1 - 2 隻(ancho/guajillo/morita/或用一般辣椒乾代替)
乾奧勒岡  半 茶匙(墨西哥的品種最為理想)
小茴香粉  般茶匙
罐裝番茄  400 克(fire-roasted 的最為理想)
罐裝墨西哥 chipotle 辣椒 in adobe sauce  2 條
芫荽(剁碎)7 克
新鮮青檸汁  少量
生抽  1 湯匙

Cotija 芝士碎(或用 feta 芝士代替)
車厘茄  切片

1. 墨西哥乾辣椒先去頭去籽,放進微波爐以強波叮 15 秒至軟化和帶香。用剪刀把辣椒剪成絲,備用。

2. 小煲中落油炒香洋蔥和蒜頭,約 5 分鐘。加入乾辣椒絲、奧勒岡和小茴香粉,炒約 15 秒後再加入罐裝番茄和 chipotle 辣椒。煮開後轉小火加蓋燜煮 10 分鐘。

3. 用手持式攪拌捧或攪拌機把煲中食材打成蓉。拌入芫荽、生抽和青檸汁再作適當調味。備用。

4. 鑄鐵鍋或易潔鍋中落油把捲餅皮逐一煎至輕微焦香及軟中帶脆,並用錫紙保溫。

5. 煎太陽蛋。

6. 完成品製作步驟:煎好的捲餅皮上先塗上一層豆泥,然後放上一隻太陽蛋,再淋上番茄辣椒莎莎醬(不要完全覆蓋太陽蛋啊,特別是蛋黃啊!),最後撒上芝士碎、芫荽、車厘茄,牛油果和青檸角拌碟,完成!

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