World Chefs: Sauces are key to Mexican cuisine

Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:53am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Knowing how to make moles, adobos, salsas and other condiments is the secret to Mexican cooking, chef Robert Santibanez says in his new book "Truly Mexican."

The classically-trained chef believes his book, which he co-wrote with J.J. Goode, offers techniques and tips on ingredients that lend authenticity to cooking Mexican dishes at home.

The Mexican City native, who now lives in New York City, spoke to Reuters about chiles, the complexity of Mexican sauces and what it is like working for rock musician Carlos Santana:

Q: What do you want to achieve with your new book?

A: "It's more intensely focused on the ingredients itself and the techniques needed to be transformed into the flavor profiles in Mexican cooking. There are platforms of flavors, textures, colors and smells that identify each cuisine.

"When you taste something, it's definitely Chinese or something that's definitely Mexican, and it's because of the techniques people apply to transform those ingredients.

"Everybody grills, everybody boils, everybody steams. The sauces and condiments to me are the most important part. It's what goes with it that makes it Chinese or Mexican. It's how you saute and how you use the chiles. That's why it's so intensely related to the ingredients. Every country makes a tomato sauce. Why does one taste Italian and the other Mexican? It's all in the technique."

Q: Is there a hunger for more authentic Mexican flavors?   Continued...

<p>Chef Robert Santibanez poses in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Romulo Yanes/Handout</p>