The regionality of Mexican cuisine is the backbone of Mi cocinaand Martinez jumps from the winding oceanside cliffs of Oaxaca, where he eats whole fish on the beach, to the mountainous rainforests of Veracruz, complete with native white mole thickened with masa. Every page and the following recipe is a new and delicious recipe, sure to satisfy any reader’s hunger with a pang of wanderlust.
Although Martinez, who is a former senior food editor at enjoy your meal and organizes a food and travel show Pruebalo for Babish Culinary Universe – he has a professional culinary training and a wealth of knowledge in cooking. He devoted his time in Mexico as a space for learning. Everywhere he went, instead of ordering the most popular dish, he asked chefs all over Mexico for their favorite dish to make and serve.
“The food I enjoy eating most, whether it’s in a restaurant or someone’s home, or from a cookbook, I want to taste the cook,” explains Martinez. “I want to be able to understand what motivates them – what is their passion? What are they excited about? What ingredients do they like?”
That’s how Martinez writes, of course. His cookbook has a section devoted to what he stocks his pantry with – from capers to light beer to an assortment of peppers, both dry and fresh. Each recipe in the cookbook’s eight chapters is tied to a story, whether it’s a mouth-watering treatise on garlic fried lobster tacos, a fascinating history on chorizo verde, or a monologue about swimming in the ocean all afternoon after bowls. with spicy ceviche that is sure to excite envy.
The recipes in Mi cocina are so diverse and colorful that it is difficult for Martinez to pick a favorite. But if he had to it, it would be his pollo al pastor (which he admits shares the number one spot with tacos gobernador). “The pollo al pastor was hard to get right,” Martinez begins. “It’s hard to recreate the flavor in a dish with a very specific cooking method.” (Al pastor is typically cooked on a rotating spit so that there are flecks of char and deep caramelization.)
Martinez’s version is made in the oven, which is why he was overjoyed and rightly filled with pride when he finally nailed the flavor. “One of my cheats for anything I want to give a smoky flavor, and I think this is a great tip for home cooks, is to use something with some smoke in it. In this case I use the chili chipotles, which are smoked jalapeños.”
The aroma of chipotle peppers provides the signature smokiness of al pastor, without a rotating spit. That, combined with agave syrup, mimics the caramelized burnt edges. The result, in Martinez’s words, is “the ultimate, absolutely most incredible chicken you’ll ever eat.” And if you don’t want to bake it, Martinez has had great success grilling the chicken on a gas stove or over charcoals with indirect heat.