The Tomato

Hola Mexico!

The sunny flavours of Mexico are ideal for a backyard barbecue on a summery Alberta evening. Start with seafood ceviche and braised pork tacos, then continue with grilled beef in adobo, corn, grilled salmon. Finish with grilled fruit and a boozy popsicle.


by Mary Bailey

Seabass Ceviche
Chef Edgar Gutierrez, Rostizado

2 c fresh lime juice
1½ c fresh orange juice
5 habañero chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 t kosher salt
3 leaves mint, chopped
5 fronds cilantro, finely chopped leaves and stems, divide into two parts
1 lb fresh orange juice
5 seabass (raw, sushi grade) trimmed and sliced
3 orange segments

Combine lime juice, habañero, one part cilantro and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly but gently. This mixture may be stored up to 3 days. Add fish and marinate for at least 2 hours before portioning.

Add orange segments, mint and remaining part cilantro to garnish. Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 4 as an appetizer.


Carnitas (Braised Pork Tacos)
Chef Kate Symes, The Fairmont Banff Springs

Make the rub, braise the pork, make the salsa, assemble the crema and the garnishes, then top warmed tortillas.

16 8″ flour tortillas
1 kg braised pork shoulder (recipe below)
½ c of heavy cream and sour cream plus salt)
½ c salsa (recipe below)
2 radishes, sliced thin, for garnish
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced small, for garnish
1 red onion, sliced very thin, for garnish
16 sprigs cilantro, for garnish
1 lime, cut into 8 pieces, for garnish

Slow Braised Pork Shoulder Rub

3 T green chilis, dried
1 T cumin
3 T salt
1 T black peppercorns
2 t coriander seeds

Combine all the dried spices. Blitz to a fine powder.

Slow Braised Pork Shoulder

1 kg pork shoulder
3 T spice rub
½ onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 carrot, chopped
3 jalapeños
2 litre chicken stock

Season the pork shoulder with the rub, it should be rubbed over all the meat. In a large pan with canola oil, sear off the pork shoulder on all sides and put into a large roasting pan. Lightly brown the onions, carrots and garlic in the same pan you seared the pork shoulder in. Add to the roasting pan with the jalapenos cut in half, lengthwise. Bring the stock to a simmer in the same pot and pour it over the pork shoulder in the roasting pan. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil and put it into the oven at a low temperature, 250F for 8-12 hours. Once the pork shoulder is nice and soft, remove it from the oven, take out of the liquid and let it cool. Take a fork and shred the meat. Meanwhile, reduce the liquid with all of the vegetables still in it to a thick glaze. Season the liquid as needed, but wait until the end as the flavours will get stronger as it reduces. Strain the liquid and combine with the shredded pork.


1 kg tomatoes
½ small onion
1 jalapeño
3 cloves garlic
1 sml bunch cilantro
1 T lime juice
salt to taste

Quarter the tomatoes, finely dice the onions and jalapeños, mix together in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes on high heat to char the tomatoes. Add finely diced garlic. Pulse in the food processor but do not over blend, leave it chunky. Season with salt as needed and add the chopped cilantro and lime juice.

To serve: Warm the flour tortillas on a grill or in a pan. Place warm braised pork shoulder on each and top with the crema, salsa and garnishes. You will have extra-braised pork shoulder but you really can never have too much braised pork shoulder. Serves 8.

Adobo Rojo (marinade for meat or fish)
Chef Israel Alvarez, Comal Mexican Table

Chef Alvarez’s background includes sous chef at Mexico City’s Pujol (ranked #16, World’s 50 Best Restaurants) and teaching cooking classes at Get Cooking. His most recent project is the Comal Mexican Table, a series of pop-up dinners.

“This preparation is an ancient method which adds rich flavours and tenderizes. For quick grilling I recommend skirt steak, flank steak, top sirloin or rib eye. For grilling chicken use a whole one and grill it butterfly style. This recipe can also be used for cooking larger cuts of meat in a crockpot or to make pulled brisket or lamb. Life shelf in the fridge is 1½ weeks, frozen, four months or more. Enjoy it with a dark beer, your favourite pico de gallo salsa, guacamole and fresh corn tortillas.” –Israel Alvarez.

12 guajillo chile, cleaned, slit open, seeded
3 mulato chile, cleaned, slit open, seeded
1 chile water for blending (see recipe instructions)
3 cloves garlic
½ red onion
7 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ c apple cider vinegar
2 t kosher salt
1 t cane sugar
½ t toasted ground cumin
½ T Mexican oregano

Preheat a pan over medium-low heat, and toast the chiles 2 or 3 at the time, turning them over and pressing down on them frequently with a clean kitchen towel, until fragrant and slightly toasted.

This process shouldn’t take longer than 15 seconds, as dry chiles tend to burn which can produce a bitter taste.

Soak the chiles with hot water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve soaking water for blending.
Add a cup of chile soaking water into the blender jar with the chiles and the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary to puree. If you like a silky texture, strain the adobo through a sieve.

Place your favourite meat in a zip-lock bag and add enough marinade to coat the meat and seal the bag. Keep it in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours and no more than 12 hours for beef or chicken, and only a couple of hours for white fish. Makes 1½ cups.

Elotes de Feria
Chef Hugo Raya, La Mar food truck

“Elotes de feria are a savoury street food treat enjoyed at festivals across Mexico. This corn on a stick is dressed with a creamy and spicy sauce. Be sure to have lots of napkins on hand as the fun is in the messines!” – Hugo Raya

5 cobs yellow corn, peeled
3 T canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 c queso fresco or feta cheese, grated
1 pinch salt
½ T chili powder (Tajín)
1 pinch pepper
5 wood or steel sticks for corn (or forks)

Mix the sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper in one bowl. Cover corn with oil using a brush and place on BBQ grill for 5 minutes each side until soft and brown. Stick the corn with the wooden or steel holders. Cover the corn with the cream mixture, sprinkle with cheese and the Tajin clili powder. Enjoy!
Makes 5.

BC Salmon with Orange Achiote Rub and Coconut Raisin Rice
Chef Lindsay Porter, el Cortez

4 filets salmon, skin on
¼ pkg achiote paste*
½ c canola oil
1c orange zest and juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks green onion
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
2 large stalks mint, chopped
½ t salt and pepper
1 lime, juiced

Mix the achiote paste (careful not to spill as it stains easily), canola oil orange zest and juice together in a bowl. Chop the garlic, green onion, cilantro and mint and mix into the paste with the salt and pepper. Rub the paste on the salmon filets and let marinate for about 30 minutes. Grill the salmon on medium, skin side down for approximately 10-12 minutes or until it is opaque and comes off the grill easily, basting with remaining marinade when needed. The marinade may start to char slightly but this adds a wonderful smokey charred flavour. Drizzle with fresh lime juice.

*Find achiote (achotay) paste at the Paraiso Tropical food shop.

Coconut Raisin Rice

1 c white rice
3 T tomato paste
1 c coconut milk
¼ c raisins
½ c water
½ t salt and pepper
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced and zest

In a medium, heavy-bottom pot add rice, tomato paste, coconut milk, raisins, water, salt and pepper and cook on a medium low heat until cooked and fluffy. Before serving, add fresh chopped cilantro and lime zest and juice. Serve with the charred achiote salmon.

Watermelon and Strawberry Margarita Paleta (Popsicles)
Chef Kate Symes, The Fairmont Banff Springs

“This will make just over a liter of paleta mix. Depending on the size of your molds, this will make about 12 paletas.” –Kate Symes

1 med. watermelon, chopped, seeds removed
1 lb strawberries

Blend the watermelon and strawberries together and strain. This should make 1 liter of puree.

½ c raw sugar
¼ c tequila blanco (optional, but fun)

Combine 1 cup of the puree with the sugar and bring to a simmer. Add that back to the rest of the puree and add the tequila. Mix well, pour into paleta molds and freeze. Makes 12 paltetas.

Grilled Hot and Sweet Fruit with Honey
A company in Calgary used to make the most amazing honey with star anise. It was a wonderful accompaniment to stone fruit. Best to use a Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula, which has lots of flavour, not just heat.

2med. peaches, halved

¼ c local honey
2 buds star anise
1-2 sprigs thyme
2 med. nectarines, halved
3 med. apricots, halved
hot sauce Cholula
canola oil

Bring honey, star anise and thyme to a simmer and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes to marry flavours. Take off the heat and remove anise and thyme. Reserve.

In a bowl, toss the fruit with oil. Brush the cut side with hot sauce.

Brush the grill with oil to prevent the fruit from sticking. Grill fruit on medium-high, cut side down, until lightly charred, soft and heated through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to individual plates or bowls, drizzle honey over and serve with a spoonful of cream, yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Serves 4.

What to Drink


The bright citrusy flavours and heat of Mexican-inspired dishes pair well with a cold hoppy beer. Crisp whites, rosé, and lighter reds also fit the bill. As spicy food can unbalance a wine in short order, stick to wines with lots of fruit, little or no obvious oak, lower alcohol, a crisp acidity and even a little sweetness. Riesling, or a versatile red such as Joie Farm’s PTG, are ideal.

And, of course, tequila and mescal. Since we are all responsible adults we’ll leave the shots for another day; a jug of margaritas or palomas is the way to go— there’s no better way to start the evening. Use the best quality 100 per cent agave tequila blanco or mezcal you can find. Don’t try to make these drinks without salt—it’s an essential part of the flavour profile.

Judith’s Frozen Margarita
Blender drinks go in and out of fashion. Currently they are…. in? Who cares, there’s nothing better on a hot day. Limes in Mexico grow everywhere—deep green, quite small, thin- skinned, not super juicy and a bit sweeter than the limes we buy here. They take forever to juice. Judith, the lady who helped us around the house I rented with some friends this winter, had a delicious solution. She washed a handful of limes, whacked them with a knife, then popped the fruit in the blender, skins and all. The slight bitterness of the pith and the fragrant oils from the skin offset the sweeter juice and added some texture to the drink.

1 c tequila blanco
7-10 small Mexican limes, halved
1 shake salt
¼ c Curacao
ice to the top of the blender

Pulse until the ice is well-distributed, then blend until thick. Pour into cocktail glasses rimmed with salt. Makes 4-6 drinks.

The Paloma
The Paloma is usually a long drink —tequila topped with Jarritos Toronja (fizzy Mexican grapefuit soda) with a dash of salt. You can get fancy and make like a margarita with fresh grapefruit juice and simple syrup.

¼ c fresh grapefruit juice
1 T fresh lime juice
1 t simple syrup
¼ c mescal or tequila
¼ c club soda

Build over ice and serve in a salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Makes 2 drinks.

Citrus is not at it’s best in Edmonton in the summer. What to do? Use a ready- made syrup. These two artisan syrups will take your Paloma, or any drink for that matter, up a level. Each bottle will make approximately 15 drinks, depending on taste.

Upson’s Classic Lavender Grapefruit Cordial
Upson’s Classic Lavender Grapefruit Cordial
Bittermilk #5 Charred Grapefruit Tonic
Bittermilk #5 Charred Grapefruit Tonic

Upson’s Classic Lavender Grapefruit Cordial
Made right here in Edmonton. Mix with soda for a summery lemonade, a flowery gin for a lovely cocktail or with tequila or mezcal for a fresh take on the Paloma.

Bittermilk #5 Charred Grapefruit Tonic
This makes a fantastic gin and tonic and an even more delicious Paloma: 1 part mezcal or tequila, 1 part soda, 1 part Bittermilk #5. Build over ice, serve in a salt-rimmed glass and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Mary Bailey likes her margaritas en las rocas and her adobo spicy.


Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!
© Copyright 2017 - The Tomato