Actually, the four things really great Tex-Mex cooks do are things all great cooks do to make sure their food tastes delicious – using fresh ingredients, using spices with care, choosing their cookbooks carefully, and avoiding canned ingredients. Here is a little more information on each of the four.
They use fresh ingredients.
Fresh is important because it gives food zest and flavor. You want to be sure to use fresh corn, tomatoes, chilies and peppers, cilantro, fruit, beans and meat in your Tex-Mex dishes.
Good cooks know that fresh ingredients are just healthier. They don’t have any chemicals and have not been processed. They are pure and more nutritious. And, as mentioned, food cooked with fresh ingredients just tastes better.
They use spices with care.
Spices are an integral part of any tasty dish. But you have to know how to use them to add flavor. And that’s what spices should be used for – to enhance the flavor of a dish, not cover it up. So, you don’t want to use too many at any one time.
For some herbs and spices, such as oregano, thyme and basil, you want to crush it in your hand before you add it to help bring out the flavor. To produce a more distinctive flavor, add your herbs near the end of the cooking process; to produce a more blended flavor, add the herbs near the beginning of cooking.
Spices add flavor almost immediately after being added to a dish, so for dishes that take longer to cook, you want to add them near the end of the cooking process so they are still potent when you eat them.
When you use spices in meals that are not cooked, experts recommend adding them several hours before eating so that the flavors can blend in with the food flavors.
There isn’t any general rule for how much spice to add. Much depends on individual taste, and so to a great degree, experienced chefs have learned how much to use through trial and error.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is the potency of red pepper. The flavor of this spice actually becomes stronger as it is cooked, so you want to be careful how much you use, and start with only small increments.
They use good cookbooks.
Good chefs know who the other good chefs are, and choose their cookbooks with care. They look for cookbooks that have new dishes, that are thoughtfully put together and well designed, and that are focused only on Tex-Mex cooking.
They never use canned beans.
Again, the watchword here is freshness. And beans are one of the most important ingredients in Tex-Mex cooking, so you never want to use canned.