Ormond Beach Restaurant Blog

5 Ingredients Found in Almost Every Mexican Dish


Mexican cuisine includes a lot of delicious and healthy ingredients. Every dish includes fresh vegetables and herbs, which are the origins of the flavorful taste you have come to expect. While there is a lot of variety in the preparation of the different dishes, there are some ingredients that are so common that you can expect to see them in almost every dish. These ingredients include flour and corn tortillas, tomatoes, beans, avocadoes, and different types of cheese.

1. Tortillas

Many European cultures rely on bread as a staple for their meals. North America is no different. However, when you go further south, you’ll find that tortillas are more popular than bread. Many Mexican-Americans still prefer tortillas over bread and will eat them with all their meals. For example, if you’re cooking up a nice steak, they’re more likely to have a tortilla with it than a roll.

You can find tortillas in every supermarket. But store-bough versions usually aren’t as good as the tortillas that are freshly prepared for you meal. Flour tortillas are still the most popular option, and they’re usually made with white flour, oil, salt, and water. Tortillas vary widely in thickness, which partly depends on the dish they’re used for. If you want to reduce your wheat intake or can’t have gluten, you can also find corn tortillas for many of the same dishes. As long as they’re freshly prepared, both kinds are excellent choices for your dinner.

2. Tomatoes

Mexican dishes are prepared with a variety of different sauces, some are rather spicy, and others are mild but yet flavorful. A lot of these sauces are tomato-based, which makes tomatoes one of the essential ingredients for Mexican cuisine. The best tomatoes are the ones that are fresh from the vine. Short of that, it’s important to buy them when they’re in season and to be very selective about tomatoes when they’re not. Fresh tomatoes are not always used for cooking. For example, you can find freshly chopped tomatoes in pico de gallo, but they may also be included in a side salad.

3. Beans

Black and pinto beans are considered staples in the Mexican diet. If you prepare Mexican food at home, you may be tempted to use canned beans for your meals, because it involves less prep time. Beans are an important part of refried beans, bean salads, and soups. Refried beans are often one of the ingredients for burritos, too.

To make refried beans, you can buy whole beans. These must be soaked over a longer period of time using a special mixture of spices. Then they are mashed and refried. When refried beans are prepared at a Mexican restaurant, the chef isn’t using canned refried beans. While they can work in a pinch, there is a definite difference in flavors and seasoning between the fresh and preserved food – not to mention the added salt necessary to prolong the shelf life of canned food.

4. Avocadoes

Even though avocado is a fruit, it frequently finds its way to the dinner table in Mexican dishes. Avocado has a rich, buttery taste, and is usually added to sandwiches and salads. Many times, you’ll also find avocado on your plate if you order a burrito or fajitas. It’s used a lot like sour cream to add more creaminess and flavor to the main dish. Unlike sour cream, avocadoes is a food you really can’t eat too much of, because it doesn’t include any dairy since it’s a fruit.

5. Cheese

Almost everyone knows the Spanish word for cheese: queso. There are many different types of cheeses that can be included in Mexican dishes. But many truly Mexican dishes don’t include as much as cheese as you’ll see in American restaurants. On the other hand, most Mexican restaurants in America will use liberal amounts of cheese with their dishes. Oaxaca is a white cheese that is made in Mexico and used for quesadillas. You may notice that a lot of dishes substitute mozzarella or cheddar cheese, but you may also find queso fresco or feta cheese.

For cheese lovers, it’s not enough to have their burrito covered in the yellow goodness. That’s when you need to order queso dip, which is a cheese-based, creamy dip that can be used to dip your tortilla chips. Our queso dip is one of our favorite appetizers, which will only get you more excited about the main dish.