A truck full of radiches, 12:30 am at the Central de Abastos, Mexico City's main food distribution market. Night bike ride with Kurt, Mike and Adrian. The east side of Mexico City. Mexico DF

Cook like a local: Mexico City

From fall-apart pork ribs to crisp crab tostadas, enjoy a taste of this food-obsessed capital city from your own home

Want to learn about Mexican food? Looking for Mexican recipes? Read Edson Diaz-Fuentes’ guide.

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Recipes extracted from Ciudad de México: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Mexico City by Edson Diaz-Fuentes (£26, Hardie Grant).


Mexican cuisine

Mexico City – known as DF among Mexicans – is one of the world’s biggest metropolises. Its area and surrounding states – Puebla, Estado de México, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala and Morelos – create a gastronomic experience like no other, with an array of tastes and smells.

In the city, there’s a constant buzz, and people are always on the move. The smell of street food being cooked over charcoals, music blaring from buses and the notoriously bad traffic can all be an assault on the senses. But it’s also beautiful, magical and surreal. It’s a melting pot of flavours and foods from across the country, which is one of the most biodiverse on the planet. There’s no social gathering, festivity or event in Mexico where food and drink are not essential, from football matches, to religious celebrations and even funerals. Tacos are a way of life, and there’s nowhere this is more true than in Mexico City, where you can enjoy a variety for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at any time between.

The pillars of Mexican cooking are traditionally corn or maize, beans and, of course, chillies, including all their variations. Chillies are there to accentuate the flavours of a dish and complement the other individual elements, whether those are herbs, spices, vegetables or a wonderful piece of meat or seafood.


Crab tostadas

In Coyoacán in Mexico City, my local market has become famous for (among other things) a tostadas stand that has expanded and become hugely popular. The stand offers a wide variety of tostadas: chicken tinga, prawn cocktail or pata (cow’s hooves), which is one of my favourites. I like to pair fresh crab with the simple, raw freshness of a jalapeño and lime mayonnaise, and serve this with crispy tostadas and avocados.

a silver tray filled with stacks of crisp tacos piled with crabmeat and sliced avocado

Pibil-style pork ribs

Cochinita pibil is the emblematic dish of Yucatán. The whole suckling pig, known as cochinita, is doused in achiote marinade, wrapped in banana leaves and slow-roasted in a pit. Achiote paste, a mix of crushed annatto seeds and spices, has a deep, vibrant red colour and unique peppery, musky flavour that pairs beautifully with pork.

two racks of pork ribs on baking parchment in a roasting tray with a pot of salsa

Chiles en escabeche

You’ll see big jars of these pickles in torterías and fondas. You can really taste all the flavours from the spices but they’re not too spicy. When preparing my pickles, I like combining layers of flavours by using aromatics such as coriander seeds, honey and smoky dried chillies. Enjoy them in your favourite torta or sandwich with a cold beer.

a glass jar on a stone surface overflowing with chillies, bay leaves, sliced potatoes and baby corn

Get a taste of Mexico

Tortillas, £6.50, santoremedio.co.uk

Authentic tortillas made in the traditional Mexican way with specially prepared and ground corn.

Achiote paste, £1.80/100g, mexgrocer.co.uk

A vibrant red Yucatecan paste made from ground annatto seeds and spices. Used it in the pibil-style ribs marinade for an authentic flavour.

Guajillo chilli flakes, £3.80, santoremedio.co.uk

Sweet and fruity with a mild heat, these can be used to give an extra kick to dishes.

VIVIR tequila añejo, £43.95, masterofmalt.com

A fine sipping tequila matured in bourbon casks for 18 months. This has smooth vanilla and oak notes.


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Find recipes for the above dishes in Ciudad de México: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Mexico City by Edson Diaz-Fuentes (£26, Hardie Grant); photos by Robert Billington and Adam Wiseman