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An Oral Fiesta, It's That Good


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For the last few years, I have wanted to try this dish but all I heard around Chapala was that it was seasonal and now isn't that season. I discovered there is one Lakeside restaurant that serves it daily, the famous Viva Mexico in SJC. I had an exceptional experience and my friend says it was the best meal he had eaten in his six months in Mexico. I was totally sated and recommend anyone not experiencing this incredible fiesta of flavors give it a try.



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7 minutes ago, ComputerGuy said:

What I know of the "seasonal" aspect are the chiles themselves. They can be very mild, and they can be eye-wateringly hot, depending on the crop, I guess.

The linked from Wikipedia says:

The traditional season for making and eating this dish is August and first half of September, when pomegranates appear in the markets of Central Mexico and the national independence festivities begin. In some areas, the dish is created depending on when the pomegranates are ripe—usually between early October and January.

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Yes, and now that we can get pom seeds any old time, there are a few restaurants lakeside that serve them more frequently, like in SJC rightnow. So the "season" to which I refer is for the chiles, not the poms. I did not mean to imply they are made during chile 'season', whatever that might be. I was pointing out that sometimes one gets a heat surprise, depending on the ripening of the chile.

I love the look of them, and the national consciousness, but I am not crazy about them myself.

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28 minutes ago, ComputerGuy said:

I was pointing out that sometimes one gets a heat surprise

from an inexperienced or lazy cooks. Experienced cooks should know how to test the heat of those peppers. One way is to scrape the inside of pepper. Some cooks can tell by smell. Most need to taste.

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That is a good point, but... local food places are not so inclined. They use kilos of peppers of all kinds every day, and cook the food locals love. And in Mexico, no one cares about the heat except expats, pretty much. So maybe NOB this would be a thing; here, not so much. And poblanos, used for this dish, are relatively mild, certainly to Mexicans.

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21 minutes ago, ComputerGuy said:

And in Mexico, no one cares about the heat except expats, pretty much. So maybe NOB this would be a thing; here, not so much.

Is that right?  The tip I just stated was here from my Mexican mother-in-law 20 years ago because a lot do not like that much heat.

NOB they go heat crazy.

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12 hours ago, camillenparadise said:

Maybe because they already knows Augustin's are the best anywhere?

The seasonal and traditional ingredients of chiles en nogada include freshly harvested Mexican nuez de castilla (walnuts), a pear known as pera lechera, small in-season fresh peaches, an apple known as manzana panochera, and fresh Mexican pomegranates.  Other obligatory ingredients are Mexican piñones rosas (pink pine nuts) and candied biznaga cactus (aka acitrón).  As originally made in Puebla, chiles en nogada are capeados--covered with whipped egg similar to the covering for standard chiles rellenos.  Today, many people--myself included--prefer them without the egg covering.

The heat quotient of the chile poblano depends more on the origin of the seed than any other factor.  Presently, a lot of seeds for chiles poblano are being imported from China; you can tell by looking which are the chiles grown from Chinese seeds, and when you use them they are general milder than those grown from Mexican seed.  Nonetheless, even chiles poblano grown from Mexican seeds can vary in their heat quotient.  And finally, a ripe chile poblano is red, not green, and is usually dried to become the chile ancho.  There's a photo of ripe ones in the article.

I tasted Agustín's chiles en nogada during the first week of July 2018.  I've eaten them in many other places in Mexico, including Puebla, Oaxaca, and Mexico City.  Many of the above ingredients were not included in Agustín's version.  The dish was good, but IMHO not "the best anywhere".  The chiles en nogada that I prefer are the ones I ate in Oaxaca in August.  Second are the ones I have frequently eaten at Restaurante Azul Histórico in Mexico City.  

The deal is that you ask 10 people which are the best and you will get at least 9 different answers.  

In the article you will see a traditional recipe for this dish as well as photos of the two chiles en nogada that I like best.  YMMV.


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