There’s so much that’s different about eggs here in Mexico, starting with how they’re stored unrefrigerated.
That was a biggie for me, and I will admit that at first I judged, thinking, “Huh? This must be unsafe!”
It was my chef/son who explained to me that Mexico is one of many places in the world – including most European and Asian countries, in fact — that don’t require eggs to be washed before they can be sold. That’s why you see them displayed on counters and shelves in grocery stores and markets.
Turns out that Mother Nature has provided the naturally porous egg with its own protective “sheen” that keeps good things (like oxygen and water) in, and bad things (like bacteria) out. The other reason some countries like to wash and refrigerate eggs is, of course, money-related: “natural” eggs last about three weeks, while washed eggs have a shelf life of up to almost two months.
(Consumers in the United States also tend to like their produce squeaky clean, although one hopes that with the rise in popularity of backyard chickens that trend is changing.)
So it’s perfectly OK not to refrigerate your eggs here in Mexico, if that’s how they are when you buy them. In other words, be consistent: if eggs have been refrigerated, keep them that way. If not, having them in a basket on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, is fine.
Another difference in Mexico is that eggs are often sold by the ounce, packed carefully but loosely in plastic bags. You’ll be asked how many eggs you want and then they’ll be weighed, especially at a mercado or in small tiendas.
After one regrettably messy experience, I’ve learned to bring along my own reusable egg carton.
If you’re lucky or live in a rural area, you can find huevos del rancho – eggs from “free-range” chickens. While not certified organic or anything like that, the chickens will have had access to the outside and all the sunshine, bugs and exercise that includes.
The eggs will have a darker colored, more pronounced and rounded yolk and that familiar egg aroma when cooked. After all, a healthy chicken makes for a healthier egg!
The first recipe this week is one of my personal favorites. I think of it as eggs in warm Salsa Mexicana, and although it’s simple, it plates well and tastes great.
The frittata recipe is basic – feel free to use whatever combination of veggies and cheese you like, or copy your favorite frittata, like spinach and cheese, or bacon and asparagus.
Bear in mind some veggies will need to be cooked first (like broccoli) although you can also just use leftovers.
Huevos Ahogados (Drowned Eggs)
I still sometimes confuse the name of this dish with another very similar word: abogado, which means lawyer. Oops! Combining traditional Mexican flavors with classic poached eggs, this recipe is perfect for breakfast or brunch. Serve with warm corn tortillas or crusty bread for dipping in the scrumptious sauce.
- 1-½ cups water
- About 4-5 tomatoes, chopped fine
- ½ large onion, diced
- ½-1 jalapeño, seeded & minced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
- 1 big clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. olive or corn oil
- Pinch dry oregano
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
Heat oil in medium saucepan and sauté onion, garlic, tomatoes and jalapeños for a few minutes till onion is translucent and mixture is fragrant. Add water, stir. Simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes to blend flavors.
Quickly bring to a boil, then carefully drop in the eggs two at a time. Cook for about three minutes. (Eggs are done when white is no longer clear.) Ladle carefully into bowl without breaking the yolks. Cook remaining two eggs the same way. Yield: two servings.
Not having a crust makes this recipe so easy to put together for a beautiful breakfast or brunch, and you can vary the veggies according to what you have on hand. Serve with your favorite salsa, crusty bread and a simple green salad.
- 7-8 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- ¼ cup grated cheddar, Gouda, Chihuahua or other hard cheese
- ¼ of a small wheel of queso fresco
- 1 tomato, chopped or sliced
- ½ onion, chopped
- ¼ green, red or yellow bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
- Fresh cilantro or basil leaves for garnish
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Optional: ¼ cup (2 small) potatoes, par-boiled & sliced thin
Lightly oil pie pan, cast iron pan or other medium-sized casserole dish. Beat eggs till mixed; add milk and mix again. Pour into prepared pan. Add vegetables, cheeses, salt and pepper without stirring. (They’ll mix in on their own).
Top with cilantro or basil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or till knife inserted in center comes out clean. Yield: four delicious servings.
Janet Blaser of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, has been a writer, editor and storyteller her entire life, and feels fortunate to write about great food, amazing places, fascinating people and unique events. Her work has appeared in numerous travel and expat publications as well as newspapers and magazines. Her first book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats, is available on Amazon. Contact Janet or read her blog at whyweleftamerica.com.