Until recently, the only Mexican dishes I knew were burritos and tacos. Whenever I would see a commercial for Mexican fast food on TV (and there are a lot in Los Angeles), I’d ask my husband “What is a quesadilla?” “What are flautas?” “What’s the difference between a chalupa and a tostada?” By now, I’ve probably asked at least 3 times about each dish. They’re hard to tell apart for someone who hasn’t grown up with them since their descriptions seem pretty much the same on the surface. But, I was soon to learn about one Mexican dish, intimately.
One day, we were at my sister-in-law’s house eating a buffet style dinner. My husband pointed at one of the dishes on the counter and told me “That’s an enchilada.” Although I had to say, “Tell me again what an enchilada is?” I tried it and LOVED it! It was light, moist, and little spicy with a very unique flavor. It wasn’t anything like my pre-conceived image of Mexican food, which to me, seemed dense from beans, cheese, and sour cream, drenched in heavy sauces.
One of my hobbies is to try to duplicate restaurant dishes that I enjoy. My husband always jokes that he can see the wheels turning in my brain as I take each bite, analyzing, rating and comparing flavors and textures. With that in mind, I think you can understand what was coming next… I HAD to duplicate that enchilada. For starters, the ingredients: They weren’t overwhelming in number, just chicken, sour cream, tortillas and my mother-in-law’s green sauce, however the recipe turned out to be more complex than I had imagined, as I learned after my first few unsuccessful attempts. What went wrong? Well, I managed to capture the lightness, but for some reason, not the moistness.
I had to go to the expert, my mother-in-law, for advice. It turns out that the fantastic flavor of the dish comes from not just adding the green sauce externally, but internally as well. She told me I needed to soak the tortillas in the green sauce to give the dish that extra bit of flavor. Thanks to that tip, I finally have a perfectly light and moist green chicken enchilada recipe, in my arsenal, that wins my husband’s approval. Even more importantly, I have taken one more step in the incredibly challenging quest of introducing Mexican flavors to a discriminating Japanese palate.