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Truly Mexican

Truly Mexican

By Roberto Santibanez with JJ Goode and Shelley Wiseman
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011

Do your customers love salsa? Would you like to know the three keys to not just good, but great salsa? Can you picture yourself punching up an enchilada platter with a sophisticated thick red mole?

Readers of Roberto Santibanez's new cookbook, Truly Mexican, will get a feel for the foundations of truly great, truly classic Mexican cooking. Santibanez, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and successful New York restauranteur, approached the book with the same tactics as a teacher of a foreign language: beginning with the basic building blocks.

“Learning to cook an unfamiliar cuisine often means unlearning many of the principles you once thought were universal,” he writes in the introduction, hinting at the important techniques he will share: roasting tomatoes and tomatillos, toasting chiles and pumpkin seeds, making fresh corn tortillas and more.

He wants a cook to learn the basics before trying to get to fancy. In theory, this will result in the kind of Mexican food that knocks customers' socks off: food with smoky heat, cheesy goodness and the tart taste of cilantro. The book guides readers through salsas, adobos and moles, start to finish.

The secrets of great salsa — salt, adding an extra chile if the salsa is to be stored, and serving salsa at room temperature — are an instance of the easy, user friendly tip-and-trick-oriented feel of the book.

Mexican menu ideas abound here, especially for foodservice operators serving customers who like trends: think shrimp tacos and chilaquiles (tortilla chips simmered in sauce: a wonderfully inventive way to use up stale chips).

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