Rick Stein has been the friendly face of BBC Two in recent weeks, during the airing of his latest seven-part series, following him on a trip around Mexico. Thankfully, the cookbook of the same name is now available for us to sustain our Stein fix.
Rick Stein: The Road to Mexico features recipes from San Francisco and California right through to the southern tip of Mexico. The book is split into 12 sections, including several that will particularly appeal to chefs looking to introduce a different focus to breakfast and brunch, vegetables and side dishes.
Stein's love of breakfast makes for an exciting and diverse chapter, offering a Mexican-inspired crab and avocado omelette stuffed with fresh, local vegetables. Other notable recipes that would suit a Mexican breakfast offering include fried tortilla chips in green salsa with crumbled cheese, or fried eggs on tortillas with tomato salsa, ham and peas.
Casual-dining operators could take inspiration from the ‘drowned' sandwiches with fresh tomato salsa and hot red chilli sauce; the chicken tinga tamales; and the prawn aguachile tostadas with watermelon escabeche.
Many chefs are waking up to the necessity of offering more varied vegetarian and vegan options for diners in 2018, and Stein provides far more than a token meat-free alternative. The vegetable chapter features an appetising tortilla soup with chipotle chilli, tomato and avocado; tortillas with boiled eggs and pumpkin seed sauce; courgette salad; and Persian frittata.
The fish section, of course, is extensive and mouth-watering, ranging from Hog Island oysters and ceviche to deep-fried prawns and grilled whole fish.
The book is by no means technically challenging or long-winded, but it is a very wide-ranging presentation of Mexican cuisine that ventures further than tacos and nachos. However, these staples shouldn't be overlooked, as when they are done right they can be, as Stein says, a "brief and delicious assault on the senses". And that, in fact, sums up the majority of the punchy recipes in this book.
If you like this, you may enjoy these
- Rick Stein's Long Weekends by Rick Stein
- Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte and Fiamma Piacentini
- Chilli Notes by Thomasina Miers
Rick Stein: The Road to Mexico by Rick Stein (Penguin, £26)