Latin American Recipes
Latin American Recipes
Prawns al Mojo de Ajo
Traveling the world no longer requires plane tickets and suitcases. You can experience the food cultures and traditions of many varied regions from the comfort of your kitchen thanks to the wealth of traditional recipes available today. In this collection, we've highlighted dishes with a Latin culinary heritage that are sure to excite and entice all the diners at your table.
These Prawns al Mojo de Ajo are a great example of the big flavor profiles you'll taste in every Latin American dish. This is like shrimp scampi, but grilled and 100 times better, thanks to a kicky serrano chile and enough garlic to stave off vampires forever. This dish employs a great trick many cooks don't know: using skillets on the grill, which gives fiery grilled flavor to simmered components like the garlic and onion.
Monterrey-Style Skirt Steak
Carne asada is the quintessential grilled dish of Mexico. At its best, it's the stuff dreams are made of. Nonetheless, it has come a long way from its origins in northern Mexico. Consider this recipe a way of preserving what carne asada really stands for: juicy, smoky, heavenly steak.
A taco is only as good as the quality of its simple components, especially the salsa. Good salsa is about balance: not too spicy, too tart, or too watery. Charred tomato and serrano bring bold flavor to this versatile salsa.
Over the last decade, Peruvian cuisine has come into Los Angeles' Latin American-dominated food scene, and it has come in swinging. It didn't just bring its famous sashimi-like ceviches; it also brought the Peruvian tradition of yakitori-like anticucho skewers. The brushed-on sauce, loaded with plenty of Peru's bright, fruity, yellow aji pepper, makes these skewers practically habit-forming. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Look for aji amarillo paste, a spicy Peruvian seasoning made from yellow chile peppers, in Latin markets. It's wonderful in marinades and meat rubs.
Mini Veggie Tlayudas
Mole aside, tlayudas are the Oaxacan dish. Imagine grilled pizza with corn tortilla crust and bean puree instead of tomato sauce, topped with cabbage and avocado. It's as healthy as it is tasty. A whiff of robust smoke flavor gives this vegetarian dish a meaty feel. We love drizzling on a little of the Salsa Tatemada for a nice juicy kick.
LA Charred Chicken
When cruising the streets of South and East Los Angeles, you'll be partially hypnotized by the thick fumes emanating from LA's proud charred-chicken street vendors. A one-two-punch of citrus and fearless use of eight spices give this blackened, moist chicken its addictive bite. A nice long bath in spice-laced citrus marinade lends the chicken bold flavor, tender texture, and incredible moistness. Don't fear the flame: A little light charring makes the dish sing.
Look for ground annatto seeds and ground guajillo chile powder in the spice section of Latin markets. If 3-pound chickens are unavailable, buy enough precut, bone-in, skin-on breasts, thighs, legs, and wings to equal 6 pounds.
If you are in the humid, evergreen state of Yucatán, Mexico, you might be surprised by what arrives when you order carne asada. There, it means grilled pork, like this. You can find a few versions of it in LA, it being the capital for regional Mexican food.
Oaxacan-Style Grilled Corn on the Cob
Look for crema at Latin markets or by the supermarket's Mexican cheeses. It's slightly tangier than sour cream.
Peruvian Steak and Roasted Sweet Potato Bowl
A little meat travels far since there's no center stage in a bowl. Here, a few ounces of Peruvian steak works wonders on top. Season well, and shred or finely chop to get a little in each bite.
Carnitas Tacos with Pickled Red Onion
The pork gets a big flavor boost from achiote paste, a mix of ground annatto seeds, vinegar, salt, and spices. Find it at Latin markets.
Forget shrimp cocktail—this will be your go-to party staple from now on. You could take the shrimp off the skewers for the platter, but the pick-up nature of kebabs is great for parties.
Best of Brazil
Two of the most popular dishes in Brazil's Bahia state are bobo camarones (shrimp in yuca cream sauce) and moqueca (seafood coconut stew). This recipe combines both. Coconut milk flavors the sauce, while mashed yuca adds creaminess. Dendê oil (bright orange palm oil) is usually stirred in at the end to lend the sauce color, but we've used annatto oil instead.
In Latin cuisine, a little bit of blistering on tortillas, peppers, onions, and garlic adds pleasant smoke and incredible complexity to a dish. The marinade for our Steak Tacos depends on this for bold taste that can stand up to the Toasted Chile Salsa.
If you're ready for a real game changer, make your own homemade tortillas instead of buying the bagged kind. If you're in a pinch, the La Tortilla Factory corn tortillas are the next best thing to homemade.
Mushroom and Charred Corn Tacos with Guacamole
This quick taco filling is perfect for weeknight dinners, Poblano chiles bring rich, earthy flavor but little to no heat. (Every once in a while you can get a hot one, though.) If you want to add a little spice, add some crushed red pepper when you sauté the mushrooms.
Ropa Vieja Empanadas
Cookbook author Sandra Gutierrez learned about entertaining from her grandmother, who frequently hosted huge parties at her home outside Guatemala City. "It's my greatest inheritance: her love for style, food, entertaining, and making people happy," says Gutierrez. Those gatherings often featured empanadas, flaky hand pies filled with savory or sweet fillings. Gutierrez developed an appreciation for the portable turnovers: "I love them for parties," she says. "They're easy to eat—perfect for standing and talking." Take a cue from Gutierrez and create your own memorable gathering with the make-ahead empanada recipes that follow.
This is a classic empanada recipe: Rojo Vieja. In Latin American cuisine, flank steak is the go-to choice for recipes that call for boiled meat because it shreds beautifully and offers bold flavor. It's also inexpensive, making it ideal for feeding a crowd.
Grilled Skirt Steak with Mint Chimichurri and Honey-Roasted Sunchokes
This dinner is a play on classic meat and potatoes—with amped up flavor from the herby sauce. The sunchokes are roasted with a touch of honey until tantalizingly caramelized.
Feijoada (pronounced fay-ZWAH-da) is a delicious stew of pork and black beans that's traditionally served over rice with fresh orange slices. In Brazil, this dish is often served on special occasions, but preparing it in a slow cooker makes it possible to serve this rich dish on the busiest weeknights.
Churrasco with Chimichurri Sauce
Churrasco referes to beef or grilled meat. Grilled sirloin is the star of this rendition, accentuated by vinegar-based chimichurri sauce.
Our second variation of this classic Brazilian soup, vatapa offers a harmonious balance of tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors. For an added traditional touch, try sprinkling the soup with chopped peanuts just before serving. If you can't find a Brazilian lager, Mexican beer such as Dos Equis works well in its place.
Cuban Pork Shoulder with Beans and Rice
You don't have to presoak the beans for this hearty dinner—they go straight into the cooker and end up perfectly tender 8 hours later. Since you blend up a whole orange, peel and all, pick up an orange at the market—Florida oranges have thinner skins than the thick-peeled fruits from California.
Beef and Black Bean Enchiladas
Full of protein and only 343 calories per serving, these enchiladas are savory and satisfying. You can make all the components ahead of time and simply assemble the enchiladas before baking.
Pork and Ancho Chile Tamales with Mexican Red Sauce
For ease, make the pork mixture for these tamales a day or two ahead. The recipe makes quite a few servings; serve with Spanish saffron-flavored rice for a fun evening with friends.
Citrus-laced mojo and tangy relish add big flavor to this Latin classic.
Healthy Cuban Black Bean Soup Recipe
Inspired by his Cuban mother's black bean soup, Chef Douglas Rodriguez of DeLaCosta restaurant in Chicago developed the robust flavor in this recipe for people who didn't have money to spend on meat for stock. Here we use both fresh and dried oregano because each imparts a different flavor to the final dish.
Orange and Avocado Salsa
Serve this salsa with chips, or spoon it atop sautéed chicken breast or fish. If you want to make the salsa ahead, omit the cilantro and avocado, and stir them in just before serving. If you find blood oranges, substitute them for regular oranges for seasonal color.
Brazilian Cheese Bread
With its six simple ingredients, gluten-free Brazilian Cheese Bread delivers abundant and powerful flavor in every single bite. Tapioca flour plays a key role. It's light and starchy, producing a bread that is crisp on the outside with airy pockets in the middle. This delectable bread is best when served hot directly from the oven.
Stuffed Cuban Pork Tenderloin
All the flavors of your favorite Latin sandwich are here. While the pork is cooking, add fresh vegetables to the grill for a complete meal. This dish is impressive, but only requires 15 minutes of hands-on time.
Arepas are corn cakes popular in Latin American countries. Look for arepa flour in the international food section of large supermarkets or in an ethnic market. Don't substitute masa harina or cornmeal for the arepa flour, which is precooked. Store the flour in an airtight container in your freezer to extend its shelf life.
Chimichurri Halibut Tacos
Green-hued Chimichurri sauce is composed of parsley, oregano, cumin, and garlic and originated in Argentina. The blend of seasonings gives the halibut a distinct, bold taste.
Seviche-Style Shrimp and Avocado Tacos
Seviche traditionally “cooks” raw seafood with a long soak in citrus marinade, but our version cuts the time and effort by using precooked shrimp. The sharp lime flavor suffuses all the ingredients without overpowering the sweet tomato and creamy avocado. Try this recipe with cooked scallops, crab, or fish.
Golden Peach Soup with Shrimp and Crab Seviche
As intriguing as it is beautiful, this sweet-tangy-slightly spicy soup makes a stunning first course. It’s refreshing and cool flavors (and temperature) make it the perfect choice for a mid-summer’s dinner.
This popular soup from the Oaxaca region of Mexico features chorizo, a coarsely ground pork sausage flavored with chili powder, garlic, and other seasonings. We use a simple, homemade Mexican Chorizo that's easy to put together (better yet, it can be prepared the day before).
Peruvian Beef Kebabs
Street vendors in Peru sell anticuchos (grilled meat skewers) made with beef hearts. If you're not feeling that adventurous, sirloin works well, too. Either way, the real star is ground aji amarillo, made from Peru's medium-hot, sunny-yellow chile pepper. It shows up in both the spice rub and the sauce for the beef, lending a subtle floral aroma and radiant yellow color.
Tenderloin pairs beautifully with an herb-packed sauce based on classic South American chimichurri. Serve with mashed potatoes and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Aji Amarillo Sauce
You won't believe this Peruvian condiment's resemblance to classic nacho cheese sauce. Top tortilla chips, or stir into hard-cooked egg yolks for deviled eggs with a kick. Look for aji amarillo paste at Latin markets.