All You Ever Wanted to Know about Corn in Mexican Cooking

By KC Kudra

Corn is something which everyone is already quite familiar with; after all, this grain (which is often eaten as a vegetable) is a staple of American cooking but in Mexico, corn is a food, which has a great importance to the country's culinary tradition. From salads to soups, salsas and of course, as the basis for tortillas, corn shows up in a great number of easy Mexican recipes in one form or another.

This grain has been a staple food in Mexico since long before the arrival of Europeans on the continent. Used to make flour for tortillas, tamales and a variety of other dishes, corn was already central to Mexican cooking centuries, if not millennia before the Spanish came over in search of gold. The corn-based flatbreads acquired the name "tortillas" upon the Spanish conquest of what is now Mexico, after the Spanish word for "little cakes" (a name also given to omelets in Spain).

Tamales and tortillas are the most well known corn-based Mexican foods in the US; while flour tortillas are more common here, corn tortillas are now widely available in grocery stores nationwide and are becoming more popular. If you have never tried making tacos with corn tortillas, you are in for a real treat - the flavor a warm, soft corn tortilla adds to the dish just cannot be equaled by any wheat flour tortilla.

Another Mexican recipe, which features corn as the most important ingredient, is the tamale. This classic Mexican comfort food has been around for many centuries and may be served as part of dinner, lunch, or even breakfast! Tamales are made from corn flour dough filled with meats, cheeses, or vegetables and steamed inside of a cornhusk. Somewhat similar to Italian polenta, tamales are even made in sweetened or fruit filled versions, which are great for dessert or breakfast.

It takes some doing to make your own tamales at home, but nothing can beat a fresh homemade tamale's flavor. It is certain to impress your guests if you are up for a few hours in the kitchen, making (and eating) your own tamales can be a very rewarding experience.

Corn is sometimes used in salsas, where its flavor blends perfectly with tomatoes, herbs, and peppers. One common combination is black beans and corn, which makes a very satisfying salsa; you might have even seen some of these salsas at your local grocery store. Corn salsas are great with tortilla chips and wonderful with a taco (made with a warm corn tortilla, of course) or tamale.

There are also some Mexican soup recipes, which feature corn. One of the most popular Mexican soups, which showcases corn, is pozole. This is a spicy, delicious soup traditionally made with hominy, pork, and hot peppers. The combination of the corn's earthy sweetness with the meat and the kick of the chilies is a wonderful one and you can easily make a meal from a bowl of this substantial soup.

There are even restaurants, which specialize in pozole; if you live in a larger city with a sizeable Mexican-American population, you may have one near you. This is a Mexican recipe, which is relatively easy to make at home - the next time you want to try making soup, try this delicious recipe, which features corn in a starring role as a change of pace.

Mexican cuisine is vast and varied and if you want to know more, you can visit where you can see just how many easy Mexican recipes you can make at home. You will also find plenty of interesting information on Mexican cuisine, which is known for being nutritious as well as very tasty.

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