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Ingredients glossary

Chile Poblano

Chile Poblano - Mild to medium hot this large, dark green chile is used in various dishes in Mexico and most often used to make Chiles Rellenos.  When dried this chile is called ancho.


Chile Guero

Chile Güero (pronounced wuero) - Medium to hot, the name means “blond.”  This chile is used for salsas and is roasted to accentuate its flavor giving the salsa  a nice reddish color.

Chile Serrano

Chile Serrano - Medium to hot this chile is smaller than the Jalapeño and can be hotter.  Serranos can be prepared roasted, boiled or used raw but rarely canned or pickled.   

Chile Jalapeno

Chile Jalapeño - Medium to hot this chile is sold fresh in markets when still a dark green color.  When its color is red it is overly ripe and then used in the production of chipotle.  Jalapeños can be prepared fresh, canned or pickled. 


Dried Chile de Arbol

Chile de Arbol - Hot to very hot, the name means “tree like.”  This chile is normally used in a dried form for very spicy salsas.  In Mexico, it is typically used as a table sauce served over various meat entreès.


Tomatillos –This fruit is a relative to tomatoes.  Tomatillos are covered by a papery husk and when removed the fruit will have a sticky coating and needs to be rinsed.  Select firm, bright green tomatillos to add an exquisite flavor to salsas and other dishes.

Queso Fresco

Queso fresco -  This cheese is popularly used in many Mexican dishes because of its hearty flavor and its texture which just gets soft and spongy when baked or fried.  It doesn’t separate and get greasy as a cheddar or jack cheese tend to do.

Mexican Chocolate

Mexican chocolate - This chocolate is blended with cinnamon, sugar and almonds and formed into tablets which have a coarse and grainy texture.  This chocolate, in addition to being used in many desserts is a key ingredient in the popular mole sauce.

Dulce de Piloncillo

Dulce de Piloncillo - This sugar is unrefined and its name refers to its cone-like shape.  It is used in many traditional desserts such as champurrado, capirotada, flan and many others desserts. 

Masa Preparada

Prepared fresh masa for tamales - Fresh masa for tamales is the most ideal for moist, spongy tamales.  This masa is premixed with shortening or lard, baking power, salt and chicken broth.   Fresh masa is available at Mexican supermarkets or tortillerias.

Dry Masa

Corn masa flour - If tortillerias or Mexican supermarkets are not located in your area for the fresh masa dough, you can use any brand of dehydrated corn masa flour for tamales.  Just follow the instructions on the package to prepare the masa dough for tamales.

Enconchada Corn Husks

Dried corn husks - These are the more common wrappers for tamales, and you can find them in most grocery stores in the Hispanic food aisle.  The particular husk shown here is described on the package as “enconchada” referring to the shell shape of the husk.  These husks are a better quality husk because they are a fuller size. 


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