Check Out These Croqueta Recipes If You Need Some Good Cuban Comfort Food

"Croqueta Cake 02 EKM." Digital Image. Miami Herald. 09 April 2018.

In my Puerto Rican-Cuban family, there’s nothing holier or more hallowed than the croquetica. Traditionally, they’re made with jamón (ham) but using the tips and tricks of the next seven slides, you can stuff a croqueta with almost anything! They’re fast, they’re cheap, and they’re delicious AF. Seriously, these little-fried nuggets of deliciousness should be on your table the next time you host a party.

First, let’s just look at the croqueta in all of its glory.

CREDIT: @rostisseriacan_pics / Instagram

It’s beautifully golden from being fried and who doesn’t love fried food? The croqueta is really one of the most beautiful foods on the planet. Now let’s explore how to make it.

1. First, melt some butter and oil in a pan…

CREDIT: “Melt Butter.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018

Add 4 tbsp of butter (or sub vegan butter) and 1/4 cup of olive oil to a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat.

Recipe adapted by Spanish Sabores.

2. Sauté onions until browned…

CREDIT: “Brown Onions.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018

While the butter and oil are warming, finely dice a medium-sized onion. Toss it in and let it sauté for a few minutes until they start to brown.

Recipe adapted by Spanish Sabores.

3. Add a pinch of salt and nutmeg, a cup of ham and sauté for another 30 seconds.

CREDIT: “Chop ham.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018

At this point, you could also add potatoes, mushrooms, spinach & feta, or whatever else you decide to cook up!

Recipe adapted by Spanish Sabores.

4. Then, toss in a little less than 1 cup of flour.

CREDIT: “Add flour.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018

We’re Latino. We don’t use exact measurements. Stir this continually so to be sure the flour doesn’t burn. It should turn a light brown color.

Recipe adapted by Spanish Sabores.

5. Slowly add 4 cups of milk, poco a poco.

CREDIT: “Add milk.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018

It’ll look weird at first, but keep stirring, keep stirring! Feel free to also sub with a non-dairy milk, like soy or cashew.

Recipe adapted by Spanish Sabores.

6. Turn off the heat and let the dough cool when it begins to look like this:

CREDIT: “Stir dough.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018

It should take about 20 minutes for all of it to incorporate. Here comes the easy part. Pour the batter into a buttered bowl, saran-wrap it tight and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Meet my Friday nights and my Saturday mornings because I just refrigerate over night and eat croquetas for breakfast. ?

Recipe adapted by Spanish Sabores.

7. Shape your croquetas into little logs…

CREDIT: “Croquettes.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018

Then, prepare two plates: one of flour and one with two raw eggs. Heat a pan of olive oil and roll each croqueta in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and finally fry them in the olive oil.

Recipe adapted by Spanish Sabores.

Vegan Cuban Ham Croquetas (V)

CREDIT: “croquettes_3797@0,13x.” Digital Image. Revolution In Bloom. 09 April 2018.

I decided to first start with a vegan recipe so our non-carnivore friends don’t think this is article is all about jamón serrano and cheese. For this particular recipe, you only need to get yourself some vegan ham and margarine. Get the recipe here. 

Croquetas de Garbanzo y Ajo (V)

CREDIT: “Croquetas de Garbanzo y Ajo (Garlic and Chickpea Croquettes)” Digital Image. The Flaming Vegan. 09 April 2018.

OK, the next six recipes are vegan and YUMMY AF.

  1. Melt some vegan butter in a pan over low heat, add 4 cloves of crushed garlic, and 1/3 cup of flour.
  2. Slowly add 1 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk until thick paste forms. Take off the heat and add in half a can of lightly mashed garbanzo beans, a small, cooked and mashed potato, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt until very, very thick.
  3. Let the dough cool, turn them into logs, and roll them in breadcrumbs.
  4. Fry away, already!

Adapted from The Flaming Vegan.

Spanish Spinach Croquettes (V)

CREDIT: “These Spanish spinach croquettes are a typical tapa in bars all around Spain. They’re simple to make, packed with flavour and make a great vegan party finger food or appetizer!” Digital Image. Cilantro and Citronella. 09 April 2018.
  1. Boil one bag of frozen spinach, drain under cold water, and try to drain as much water from them as possible. Set aside.
  2. Gently heat 1½ cups of non-dairy milk with ½ cup stock of vegetable stock in a small pot.
  3. While that’s happening, heat a large pan over medium heat with olive oil and half an onion, diced. Then, soften 2 cloves of garlic in the pan and add a ½ cup of flour.
  4. Once the mixture begins to brown, begin to slowly add the stock-milk mixture.
  5. Finally, add the spinach, salt and pepper, transfer the mixture to another bowl, cover with saran wrap and store in the fridge for a couple hours or overnight.
  6. Then make logs, and roll in breadcrumbs and then in plant milk, then again in breadcrumbs.
  7. Fry away!

Adapted from Cilantro and Citronella.

Wild Mushroom Croquetas (V)

CREDIT: “Wild Mushroom Croquetas.” Digital Image. The Foodies Larder. 09 April 2018.

This recipe is a little different:

  1. For the bechamel: Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan on high heat. Reduce to medium and start adding 1/2 cup plain flour, poco a poco. Once it’s thick, add a tsp of salt, and a tsp of ground nutmeg.
  2. Mushroom Mixture: Dice up 2 cups mushrooms & 2 cloves of garlic and add to hot oil in a pan. Sauté until the water is evaporated and the mixture is thick.
  3. Combine the two together in a bowl. Make little logs, and dust with flour, roll in egg and then in breadcrumbs.
  4. Fry, fry away!

Adapted by The Foodies Larder.

Potato Croquettes (V)

CREDIT: “Potato Croquettes.” Digital Image. PETA Latino. 09 April 2018.

Here’s the sitch:

  1. Peel and chop 2 large potatoes, boil, drain, then mash in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in 1-2 Tbsp vegan butter, 4 tbsp soy milk, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley. Mix, mix, mix, mix.
  3. Make your croqueta logs, coat in bread crumbs (panko is vegan).
  4. Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.
  5. Eat!

Adapted from PETA Latino.

Bean Croquettes (V)

CREDIT: “Bean Croquettes.” Digital Image. PETA Latino. 09 April 2018.

1. Mash the following into a bowl:

  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrots, steamed
  • 1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs

2. Roll into 2-inch “logs” and coat with breadcrumbs.

3. Fry a couple minutes or until golden brown.

4. Serve immediately.

Adapted from PETA Latino.

Ground Beef Croquetas (V)

CREDIT: “Vegan Croquettes.” Digital Image. 09 April 2018
  1. In a large skillet, heat ⅓ cup olive oil over medium high heat and sauté 1 large, chopped onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic until the onions start to brown, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add 1 chopped, medium tomato and cook for about a minute, and 1 package of Gardein’s beefless ground. Then add 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley and season the mixture with salt, pepper, and the nutmeg.
  3. Once the mixture is warming up, add 2 cups of vegetable broth, stir and then add 2½ cups all-purpose flour. Cook, stirring constantly until the dough starts coming off the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and wait for the dough to cool so you can make the croquettes.
  4. Wet your hands with the cold water and shape the croquettes (you can do small balls or mini logs). Immediately pass them through the Panko and transfer to a clean plate. The cold water works as the “glue” for the Panko since we are not using eggs to keep this recipe vegan. (I sometimes use this technique even in my meat recipes, as it is very efficient and whatever I’m frying gets very crispy!)
  5. FRY AWAY!

Adapted from Olivia’s Cuisine.

Croquetas Caseras

CREDIT: “Croquetas caseras.” Digital Image. Great British Chefs. 09 April 2018.
  1. Add 1 L of milk to a saucepan and bring to the boil. In a separate pan, melt the 2 sticks of butter over a low heat, then stir in 1 cup of flour.
  2. Cook gently for 5 minutes without letting it brown, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon to remove any lumps.
  3. Add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring all the time until it is all added and you have a smooth béchamel.
  4. Add 1 finely chopped leek to a frying pan with a little butter and sweat down until soft.
  5. Stir the softened leeks and 1 cup crab into the béchamel, then transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. Spread in an even layer, press a piece of clingfilm over the surface, then chill overnight.
  6. Make logs, embark on the doughing process, and FRY!

Adapted from Great British Chefs.

Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas with Smoked Pimentón Aioli

CREDIT: “Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas with Smoked Pimentón Aioli” Digital Image. Food52. 09 April 2018.
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 3 Tbsp of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add 1/2 cup of flour and cook 1-2 minutes while whisking frequently. Gradually add 1 1/4 cup milk while whisking and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be smooth.
  2. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in 1/3 cup finely chopped ham, 1/3 cup grated Manchego cheese, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg. Cook another 1-2 minutes while stirring- the mixture will pull away from the sides of the pan.
  3. Transfer the mixture to an 8×8-inch baking tray and spread it out so that it is even. Let the mixture cool, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to cook the croquetas, lightly beat the eggs in a shallow dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and ½ teaspoon salt in another dish. Scoop up tablespoons of the cooled filling and form them into balls. Dip each ball into the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Place the completed croquetas on a wire rack or baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. The croquetas must be chilled before frying otherwise they may fall apart in the oil.
  5. Meanwhile, make the aioli by pureeing 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp smoked pimentón in a blender or mini food processor. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large stockpot to reach a depth of 1 inch and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the croquetas in the oil, turning them on all sides, until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with the smoked pimentón aioli.

Adapted from Food 52.

Croquetas de Gambas (Shrimp Croquettes)

CREDIT: “Croquetas de Gambas.” Digital Image. Delish DLites. 09 April 2018.
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over a medium-low flame. Melt 1 stick of butter in a pan, sprinkle in flour and let them cook for a few minutes, stirring. Slowly drizzle in 2.5 cups cold milk.
  2. Add 14oz peeled, cooked, diced shrimp, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix.
  3. When it’s cooled, form a log (or ball), then roll in flour, coat in a beaten egg, and finally roll in Panko crumbs.
  4. Then FRY away!

Adapted from Delish D’Lites.

Potato Croquetas with Saffron Alioli

CREDIT: “Potato Croquetas with Saffron Aioli / photo by George Whiteside.” Digital Image. Epicurious. 09 April 2018.
  1. Peel 1 pound large boiled potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Cover with salted cold water by 1 inch in a 2-quart saucepan, then boil until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander. Force potatoes through ricer into a medium bowl and cool.
  2. Lightly beat 1 egg in a small bowl with a fork. Add to cooled potatoes along with 1 Tbsp chopped parsley, fresh chives, 1/4 tsp tarragon, 2 Tbsp butter, salt, and pepper and stir just until combined.
  3. Spoon tablespoons of potato mixture onto a tray, then lightly roll each into a ball between palms of your hands and return to tray.
  4. Lightly beat remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Spread flour in a shallow bowl, then spread bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.
  5. Working in 4 batches (of 6 or 7), roll balls in flour to coat, gently shaking off excess flour. Dip balls in egg, turning to coat and letting excess drip off, then roll in breadcrumbs and return to tray. Chill, covered, 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  7. Heat 1 1/2 inches oil in a 3-quart pot until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Working in 4 batches, fry croquetas, turning if necessary, until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then transfer to a baking pan and keep warm in the oven while frying remaining croquetas. (Return oil to 360°F between batches.)

Adapted from Epicurious.

Cranberry Chestnut Croquettes

CREDIT: Unnamed. Digital Image. The Latin Kitchen. 09 April 2018.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a sharp paring knife, make a large X on the flat side of each chestnut through the shell but not meat.
  2. Soak chestnuts in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes, then drain well. Arrange chestnuts in one layer in a shallow baking pan, then roast for 15 minutes in the middle of oven until shells curl away at X mark.
  3. Wearing protective gloves, peel away shells from chestnuts while still hot.In large pot boiling water, blanch chestnuts for two minutes, then drain. Using kitchen towel, rub chestnuts to remove skins.Coarsely chop and reserve.
  4. To make croquetas: Combine cooled chopped chestnuts with all other ingredients in the bowl of a stand-up electric mixer. Mix using paddle attachment until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Do not whip the mixture, as you do not want to aerate it.
  5. Cover croqueta mixture and put into refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. Once croqueta mix is chilled, form into one-inch balls. Beat eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Spread flour in a shallow bowl, then spread breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl. Working in batches of 4 to 5 croquetas at a time, roll balls in flour to coat, gently shaking off excess flour. Dip balls in egg, turning to coat and letting excess drip off, then roll in breadcrumbs and set aside on a plate.
  6. FRY.

Adapted from Latin Kitchen.

Croquetas de Pollo

CREDIT: “Croquetas de Pollo.” Digital Image. Dominican Cooking. 09 April 2018.

This is the most common croquette in the DR, similar to Cuban jamón, with a meat swap-out.

  1. Boil 2 lb of boneless chicken in 5 cups of water along with one quartered onion, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  2. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and flaking, add more water if it becomes necessary.
  3. Drain the water from chicken and let cool before shredding.
  4. Heat 3 Tbsp. butter in a skillet over low heat. Stir in another medium onion, this time grated or diced and cook until it becomes translucent.
  5. Add 1/2 cup flour and stir vigorously until everything is well mixed, being careful to not to let it burn.
  6. Then add 2 cups milk and another teaspoon of salt and stir until it is well mixed.
  7. Add the chicken and the parsley and stir until the mixture thickens enough to start lifting from the bottom.
  8. Chill for a couple of hours.
  9. In a separate bowl stir the eggs and set aside.
  10. Put two tablespoons of the flour and chicken mixture on the palm of your hands and mold into cork shapes, if the dough sticks to your hands, cover your hands with flour.
  11. Dust the croquettes with flour, Bathe in the eggs, then cover with the breadcrumbs. Repeat until you use all the chicken mix.
  12. Chill for another three hours (best if overnight).
  13. Heat oil over medium heat in a small deep pot (there should be enough depth to cover the croquettes). Fry the croquettes until they turn golden brown.
  14. Rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.

Adapted from Dominican Cooking.

Tuna Croquettes

CREDIT: Tuna Croquetas. Digital Image. The Latin Kitchen. 09 April 2018.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably actually down to try tuna croquetas.

  1. Cook 1 lb potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. Once cooked, pass through a potato masher or mash them any way you can till smooth in a nonreactive bowl.
  2. Mix the potato, 1 drained can of tuna, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp ketchup, salt and pepper well.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Whisk another egg in a bowl and in another bowl add in the breadcrumbs.
  4. Dip the croquettes in the egg first then the bread crumbs and pan fry till golden brown.
  5. When cooked, place croquettes on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.
  6. Serve immediately with ketchup.

Adapted from The Latin Kitchen.

If you’re reading this, you deserve this cake.

CREDIT: @breadmanmiamibakery / Instagram

Meet the nutella filled croqueta cake made of 100 croquetas, only found at Cubano-owned Breadman Miami Bakery in Hialeah, Florida. Thanks, Breadman, for making it easy for us to just sit back and enjoy this one. ???

15 Carne Asada Recipes That Will Have You Drooling Before The End Of This Post


15 Carne Asada Recipes That Will Have You Drooling Before The End Of This Post


There are few hard and fast rules on how to make delicious carne asada. Over its long history as carnivorous Latinos’ favorite meaty treat, carne asada has been through many transformations. If you’re making carne asada for the first time there are three key things you must know. 

Sure your papa or tío probably shared their wisdom with you but here is our some of ours.

First, the cut of beef (skirt or flank) must be marinated and seasoned by a pro. Second, the meat must be cooked on a grill or skillet that’s so hot it screams. And third, the meat must be properly rested and thinly sliced before serving.

With the ground rules out the way, here are 15 carne asada recipes guaranteed to get you drooling before you know it.

1) The Simple Carne Asada

Credit: Mexican Food Journal

There are many ways to make a carne asada marinade but many swear by simplicity. At it’s most basic, a simple carne asada marinade is made from oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and lime juice. Nothing more. Let the meat chill in the marinade for at least 4 hours and return to room temperature before you slap it on the grill.

2) The Classic Carne Asada 


There’s simple and then there’s classic. This carne asada recipe from Isabel Eats follows the recipe the author remembers from her childhood. To the oil, lime, garlic, and seasoning in the simple marinade above, Isabel adds a good handful of chopped cilantro, a chopped jalapeno, white wine vinegar, chilli powder, dried oregano, and cumin.

3) Carne Asada with a Citrus Punch

Credit: RainbowJewels at All Recipes

This crowd-sourced recipe for carne asada takes the basic carne asada marinade above and adds a whole host of other flavors, including a major glug of citrus juice. Lime juice, lemon juice, and orange juice go into this marinade, along with chopped chipotle pepper, coriander seeds and cumin. This recipe recommends flank steak or skirt steak and suggests you regularly massage the meat while it’s marinating!

4) Port Wine and Ginger Carne Asada

Credit: All Recipes

Ever thought about adding a ¼ cup of honey, some grated ginger and a cup of port wine to your carne asada marinade? Well now’s the time to give it a try! This recipe for flank steak with a port wine marinade is essentially port wine carne asada. Searing the meat on a smoking hot outside grill cooks the wine off nicely, leaving a sticky, sweet coating behind.

5) Spicy Carne Asada with Fish Sauce

Credit: A Spicy Perspective

According to the author, this Mexico-inspired carne asada from A Spicy Perspective is a fast, healthy low-carb meal. This recipe is also packed with flavor and easy to prepare. For this marinade, you need to add ancho chilli powder and habanero chiles to the usual ingredients like garlic, cilantro, and lime. These two types of chilli give the recipe a kick. But it’s the addition of fish sauce that adds a vivid umami flavor to the meat that will have your guests coming back to the grill for second and third helpings.

6) Carne Asada Tacos

Credit: Food Network

And now, a true Mexican rule to live by. If in doubt, put it in a taco. The Food Network recommends marinating your steak in a simple Mojo (marinade) that includes two tablespoons of white vinegar and a whole jalapeno for 8 hours. Any more and the meat begins to break down and loses its texture. Once cooked, pile the meat on top of warmed tortillas, sprinkle with lettuce, onion, and cheese and finish with Pico de Gallo salsa.

7) Roy Choi’s Carne Asada

Credit: NY Times

Now we’re going to get a little fancy with this take on carne asada from LA chef and Kogi BBQ founder Roy Choi. A number of ingredients set this recipe apart. Take the classic carne asada recipe, lose the cumin and oregano and add mirin, beer, chopped tomato, and onion. Roy recommends a coal-fired grill to get a good crisp on the outer edges of the meat.

8) Carne Asada with Soy Sauce

Credit: Damn Delicious

This popular recipe from Chungah at Damn Delicious keeps things simple but adds one key ingredient – soy sauce. Seasoning is a very important and every good carne asada cook has a salt grinder on hand. But soy sauce adds a richer flavor that cannot be achieved through salt alone. Chungah quite rightly uses flank steak and cooks the meat for only six minutes to keep the dish nice and rare.

9) Vegan Jackfruit Carne Asada

Credit: The Nut Free Vegan

For our vegan friends, this carne asada recipe replaces beef steak with jackfruit. Jackfruit is a tropical fruit native to South India that has a fibrous, meaty texture when cooked. Shredded jackfruit often pops up on vegan menus as an alternative to pulled pork but when doused in a spicy citrus marinade it can pass for a tasty vegan carne asada! This recipe recommends baking the jackfruit, rather than grilling it but throwing the marinated fruit on the grill should work just as well. 

10) Carne Asada Salad

Credit: Skinny Taste

Carne asada goes beautifully with fresh salad vegetables. This salad recipe from Skinny Taste shows you how to incorporate juicy strip steak into a fresh summer salad. The carne asada is treated to a simple marinade and grilled in the usual way. Once rested and sliced, the meat is thrown onto a bed of salad leaves, covered with homemade Pico de Gallo and doused with the juice of an entire lime.

11) Carne Asada Fries

Credit: Downshiftology

Everything in moderation. If you’re eating the salad, you can also eat the fries! To make carne asada fries, prepare a half portion of carne asada using the classic carne asada recipe above (number 2). Make a batch of fries; either from scratch using russet potatoes and a deep fryer or by short cut using oven fries. Sprinkle grated cheese and a teaspoon of paprika over the fries, pile on the carne asada and finish with a dollop of guacamole. Heaven.

12) Carne Asada Burrito Casserole

Credit: Claire Lower at Lifehacker

Trust Lifehacker to come up with a recipe you didn’t know you wanted. Essentially a layered casserole with carne asada and all the ingredients you’d need for a burrito cooked together in the oven, this carne asada burrito casserole is not elegant but it sure is tasty. 

13) Carne Asada con Rajas

Credit: James Ransom at Food52

Food52 enjoys its carne asada con rajas, which means carne asada with sliced peppers. The most refined recipe on this list, carne asada con rajas requires a fairly complex marinade that includes brown sugar, cumin, and ancho chilli powder. Once the steak has been marinated, cooked and rested, you can start on the rajas. Saute poblano pepper and onions in olive oil, add minced garlic then finish with fresh oregano and a dollop of heavy cream. 

14) Keto Carne Asada and Chimichurri

Credit; I Breathe I’m Hungry

If you’re following a keto, low carb, paleo or dairy-free diet, this recipe is the one for you. This keto carne asada marinadefeatures healthy ingredients like avocado oil, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper and the side of Chimichurri sauce is much lighter than the usual sides of rice and tortillas. Net carbs per serving: 0g!

15) The Ultimate Carne Asada 

Credit:  J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats

And to finish, the ultimate carne asada recipe from Serious Eats. This recipe combines everything we’ve learned from the recipes above and incorporates it into the ultimate carne asada experience. Three types of fresh chilli (ancho, guajillo, chipotle), a whole load of citrus, soy sauce and fish sauce go into this marinade. The result is a slab of grilled meat that’s buttery, salty, sweet and absolutely delicious.

17 Latina American Dishes That Proof Latino Cuisines Beats Out Any Other Dish From Other Countries


17 Latina American Dishes That Proof Latino Cuisines Beats Out Any Other Dish From Other Countries

@mariscoscorona \ Instagram

Latin American food is one of the richest in the world. It is the product of processes of colonization and cultural mishmash: indigenous ingredients and techniques, European complexity, African spice. Latin American food has it all and people the world over visit the region to taste both top restaurants and street staples that have survived for generations.

Here are a few of our many favorites, 17 dishes that preserve the colorful soul of the continent and the deceptive simplicity of highly complex creations. Buen provecho.

1. Not all tacos are created equal

Credit: Instagram. @trent_lindo

Oh, the wonderful taco, the epitome of Mexican food. The taco is a miracle of history: the corn from Meso American cultures, the fillings from animals brought by the Spanish and all tied together by the influence of Middle Eastern cuisine, which uses grilled meets and pita breads as staples. Tacos are miraculous and surprisingly healthy. Sometimes chefs get their fancy on and create authentic rainbows of gorgeous smells and flavors like this lobster and black bean variation. Very Baja! Yummo!

2. Some ceviches are prettier than others

Credit: Instagram. @naokoterada_happytravels

Ceviche is to Peruvian food what tacos are for Mexican cuisine. The Peruvian restaurant Astrid and Gaston, which often appears in the lists of top restaurants of the world, has achieved visual and culinary perfection with these little bowls of joy and beauty. Just look at the colors basically piercing our eyes and our souls.

3. Enrique Olvera, the superstar Mexican chef, is a Michaelangelo of the kitchen

Credit: Instagram. @promisetowrite

Enrique Olvera has taken Mexican food to the next level in his restaurants, particularly Pujol, which is often ranked among the best 15 in the world. Just look at these works of art. The darker mole in the middle of the last row has been simmering for years. Yes, literally for years! It is such a treat.

4. Ice cream macarons from a legendary Peruvian restaurant? Foodgasm alert!

Credit: Instagram. @devora

Astrid and Gaston again! But how could we not include these ice cream macarons, a very unique take on a classic from French patisserie? They have very Peruvian flavors, with local fruits being the core of the palette. Oh my, just by looking at them we start salivating.

5. Fried piranha skins are always pretty in a baroque kind of way

Credit: Instagram. @laurenfensterstock

Virgilio Martinez is the new superstar of Peruvian food. He travels his country in search of new and exciting ingredients, and his degustation menu is a trip through the geography of the South American country. He loves to surprise and confront, and what better way to do this than presenting the patron with a deconstructed piranha. It is beautiful just like bloody baroque art is: art is sometimes violent and decadent in its depth.

6. Quinoa never looked so chingonamente hermosa 

Credit: Instagram. @thru.iphone

Among the ingredients that Virgilio has made his own is quinoa, the ancient grain that has fed indigenous Peruvians for centuries and that is now a staple of hipster food, even though its mass consumption means that many poor Peruvians can’t afford it now. Here it is presented in a dignified, natural, deliciously primal state.

7. When the plate is a canvas and ingredients a work of art

Credit: Instagram. @hungrysu

And really, we can’t think of a more exciting foodie destination in Latin America than Central. Just look at this plate, the colors, the perfect harmony and exciting combination of textures. If it is as pleasing to the taste as it is to the sight, we are all in.

8. No mordida on our cakes, please

Credit: Instagram. @unforgedible_Art

We couldn’t help but to include this cute and deceptively simple llama cake. It is a work of art that respects tradition, evades cultural appropriation and is just testament of a baking virtuoso. No mordida here, please…. you might be poked by that cactus!

9. A classic sculpture of culinary genius: mango with chilito 

Credit: Instagram. @marylinmelissa

Not all gorgeous food needs to be fancy or high end. A staple of Mexican street food that has migrated to the Southern United States is luscious and it basically makes our culinary desire salivate. A simple fruit like mango is cut in intricate flower-like shapes and crowned by that proof of the existence of beauty: Tajin.

10. What? Mexican sushi? You bet, compa!

Credit: Instagram. @sushiittooficial

Mexicans have made sushi their own for the past two decades. Mexican sushi is unlike any other: it combines Japanese tradition with very local ingredients such as chili and chipotle mayo. Mango and chamoy are also often combined with meats, rice, and seafood. And Mexican sushi chefs sure make sure that it all looks pleasing to the eye and feels soothing to the hungry stomachs and souls of comensales.

11. Brazilians have elevated BBQing to a fine art

Credit: Instagram. @pitmasterbrasil

If you are a carnivore and you have not tasted a traditional Brazilian churrasco, then you are in for a treat. Brazilians sure know how to enjoy life, and getting together over a BBQ is a way of enjoying each other’s company. Brazilian grilled meats are crispy, salty and sooooo pleasing to the eye. Just look at these beauties, perfectly sliced and cooked to absolute perfection.

12. Alfajores are a bite del cielo 

Credit: Instagram. @guolis

This Argentinian crumbly pastry filled with dulce de leche are gorgeous in a homey, cozy kind of way. Just by looking at them our hearts melt, become gooey like the dulce de leche that stretches as we sigh in pleasure. Try them for yourself if you don’t believe us.

13. Look at this dulce tradicional mexicano, though

Credit: Instagram. @eraserpens

One of the most overlooked treasures of Mexican cuisine are dulces tradicionales. Take these gummy fruit treats, for example, perfectly laid out in a spiral of sweet delight.

14. Seriously! We are nuts over these palanquetas! 

Credit: Instagram. @fafalulu2

Nuts are a staple of Mexican candies. Peanuts, pepitas, and grains like amaranth are all stuck together with honey or piloncillo (cane sugar). These are so popular that you can even buy them from vendors in Mexico City traffic! Put them together, however, and they form an uncanny tapestry of symmetry that you could hang in a museum!

15. We don’t know if we should eat these or hang them on a wall and just admire them

Credit: Instagram. @fafalulu2

OMG! Look at these paletas! No kid can resist to them: they just hypnotize you with their twisty patterns and shiny colors. They speak of the joys of childhood and the talent of dulceros artesanales that are a true treasure of humanity. Everyday creativity on full display.

16. Nopales: the gorgeous green that takes us back to the beginning of time

Credit: Instagram. @sweetmolcajete

Sometimes the prettiest foods are pure ingredients. Take nopales, for example, a type of cactus that has been consumed for centuries. The vibrant greens and their infinite hues seem like an oil paint from Tamayo or Orozco, master painters who translated the palettes of nature onto their canvases.

17. And of course, nothing surpasses the brutal beauty of a trompo de pastor being caressed by fire

Credit: Instagram. @flavorsofjoy

But let’s be honest. Few foods despiertan tantas pasiones like tacos al pastor. They are a full-fledged attack on the senses: visually it is an incandescent carnal treat, its smell elicits dreams and memories, its taste has the perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy. Doesn’t get any better than this.

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