Seasonings for the 5th of May


[ 5 Seasonings for Cinco de Mayo ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company

Cinco de Mayo 2016 Shadow Header

In the United States, the fifth of May, or Cinco de Mayo, is cause to break out the tequila and dip into bowls brimming with fresh salsa and guacamole. In Mexico, however, the holiday has little to do with margaritas or mariachi musicians. In fact, one of the few places in Mexico where you’ll find any partygoers is in Puebla, where the day commemorates the battle in which the Mexican army defeated French forces that occupied this small village after the Mexican-American War. Although victory tasted sweet, it was short-lived.

Nevertheless, Mexican-Americans who populated the American southwest at the time adopted the day to honor their native culture and heritage. Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in communities of all ethnicities across the globe with parades, traditional music and dance and, of course, sensational, spicy foods.

[ 5 Seasonings for Cinco de Mayo: Oregano ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

a. oregano

Most people think of oregano as the “pizza herb,” but it’s featured in Spanish and Mexican cuisine as much as it is in Italian cooking. This member of the mint family is named after the Greek word that translates to “joy of the mountain,” a reference to its native habitat throughout the Mediterranean region.

The warm, earthy taste of oregano has a slight hint of anise, which balances the flavors of heavily spicy foods nicely. Use oregano to season beef and chicken, egg, cheese and rice dishes, stews, beans and anything with tomatoes in it.

[ 5 Seasonings for Cinco de Mayo: Coriander ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

b. coriander

Coriander is the seed of cilantro, an herb widely used in Mexican cooking. In fact, cilantro, which is the Spanish word for coriander, is so commonly used that it’s dubbed Mexican parsley.

While some people find the flavor of cilantro comparable to soap (makes you wonder about their frame of reference), coriander seed has a brighter, almost lemon-like flavor—sans the suds.

Lightly crush a small handful and toss into Mexican soups and stews. Coriander seed is also a key pickling spice. Gently toasting the seed in a hot pan for a minute or two enhances flavor.

[ 5 Seasonings for Cinco de Mayo: Cumin ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

c. cumin

Cumin is the seed of a member of the parsley family known as Cuminum cyminum, which makes it botanically related to carrotdillfennel and, incidentally, coriander and cilantro.

Cumin imparts a wonderful, warm aroma and flavor that really stands on its own in cooking. Used whole or powdered, cumin is an excellent flavoring for braised, roasted or grilled chicken and pork.

Like other spice-seeds, the flavor of cumin is augmented when lightly toasted.

[ 5 Seasonings for Cinco de Mayo: Annatto ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

d. annatto

This seed is the small, heart-shaped fruit of the achiote tree, which is native to Central and South America.

You may already be familiar with the flavor of this berry-like spice since it’s an ingredient in the popular seasoning called Sazón found in most supermarkets. Annatto is also known as E160b, a food additive and coloring agent added to margarine, boxed macaroni and cheese and other foods.

Not surprisingly then, this spice adds smoky flavor and a lovely color to foods, including soups, stews, moles and grilling marinades and rubs.

[ 5 Seasonings for Cinco de Mayo: Cinnamon ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

e. cinnamon

For many people, glazed rolls or mulled cider come to mind when thinking of cinnamon, but the same sweet-spicy goodness lends itself to Mexican cooking as well.

In particular, cinnamon is used in mole, a complex combination of various herbs and spices—and sometimes chocolate, thank you—in a rich, velvety braising sauce for chicken.

[ 5 Seasonings for Cinco de Mayo: Recipes ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

f. recipes

sopa de agucate – avocado soup
This elegant, velvety soup is served chilled.
view the recipe >

brined pork tenderloin with pineapple and avocado
Pork tenderloin rests in a spicy brine for a few hours before grilling for juicy and tender meat.
view the recipe >

braised chicken with chocolate mole
This mole sauce originates from Oaxaca, Mexico, also known as the “Land of Seven Moles” of seven different colors.
view the recipe >

chicken with black beans and rice
This traditional dish is fast and easy to prepare and it’s kid-friendly.
view the recipe >

mango-basil paletas
Paletas are the Latin American answer to frozen fruit pops and are commonly sold by street vendors or paletería eateries.
view the recipe >

mexican flan de leche
Flan is a classic Latin American dessert that’s almost like baked custard that’s flipped over before serving to reveal a caramel glaze.
view the recipe >

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