Thinking of ways to step up your cooking with minimal effort or have more fresh herbs than you know what to do with? Executive Chef Randy has some tips and tricks on everyday herbs used in Mexican cuisine that you can find or plant in your indoor herb garden to rustle up a meal that will have you feeling like a restaurateur in your own home!
Love it or loathe it, coriander (or cilantro) is an indispensable staple in Mexican cuisine and in our Loco kitchens, delivering an aromatic tang to our quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and sauces and dips like salsa verde, pico de gallo and guacamole.
Floral and smooth with subtle notes of pine, coriander lends a roundness of flavour to the heat from chillies, deepens the sweetness of white fish and can be made into various mojo sauces that complement fruit and vegetables, pairing especially well with mango, pineapple, watermelon, avocado, tomatoes, corn, jicama and Jerusalem artichoke.
Coming in strong as the second-most popular herb used in all types of Mexican dishes, Mexican oregano offers bold grassy notes with citrus undertones that linger, with a tried-and-true affinity for tomato-based dishes such as traditional Mexican Pozole and Veracruz’s famous regional specialty: Veracruz-style Red Snapper.
Aromatic and earthy, Mexican oregano retains flavour well, working beautifully in hearty dishes that require more time on the stove or in the oven: think roasts, braises, soups, beans and rich stovetop sauces. Having difficulty locating fresh Mexican oregano? Go forth and plant its better-known counterpart Mediterranean oregano as a substitute - just remember to use a little less than called for in recipes!
With its delicate leaves and thin stems, this tiny herb might be small, but mighty. Earthy, floral and aromatic, thyme is considered an essential herb in manojo de hierbas de olor, a traditional Mexican herb bouquet used in flavouring stews and broths and pairs wonderfully with mushrooms, roast vegetables and different meats.
Used more commonly in cities bordering the Gulf of Mexico such as Tabasco and Veracruz, thyme has now been adopted into regional dishes such as Veracruz’s Deviled Shrimp and (more widely across the country) homemade pickled chilli peppers that are served in most Mexican restaurants.
Sweeter than its bolder counterpart, spearmint has a delicate coolness that sets it apart from the crisp, pronounced sharpness of peppermint. Sweet, vegetal and uplifting, spearmint is used to flavour Mexican stews, soups, meats, salads, desserts and drinks. At Super Loco, mint can be found in our Ceviche, Baja Fish Taco, Coconut Mojito and Matcha Moringa Mint Latte at weekend brunch.
Not the biggest fan of cilantro? You’re in luck, amigo: Italian parsley is a wonderful substitute for cilantro that is widely used across all of Mexico. With fresh, clean and herbaceous notes punctuated by subtle woody undertones, this herb shines brightest in green sauces such as salsa verde, chimichurri and is best paired with citrus fruits, seafood, white meat but can also be added to hearty stews and soups as a garnish.