Tacos may very well be the perfect food, but let's face it, the standard Meximerican fare can get a bit stale after a while. Taco the Town is here to highlight some of the more unusual Mexican finds in the valley.
This week: Empanadas Flor de Calabaza from Oaxaca Restaurant
¿Como se dice?: Who doesn't like edible flowers? Especially when they taste this good. Pumpkin Flower Empanadas, or Empanadas Flor de Calabaza, are a lighter alternative to the usual meat and cheese packed Mexican pasties. A standard filling in Oaxaca, the pumpkin flower is a light and pretty little orange blossom with a bulbous green base. Cooking transforms the ephemeral flowers into a meaty squash substitute.
(sink your teeth into all the spicy details after the jump)
La Comida: Don't let the odd location scare you--not every Mexican restaurant shares space with a bowling alley--because Oaxaca Restaurant's moles and empanadas are top notch. An order of the pumpkin flower empanadas comes with three deep fried pockets packed with Oaxaca cheese and sautéed pumpkin flower buds. The perfect botana to order before the main course.
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El Sabor: The colorful green and orange pumpkin blossoms are chopped up into meaty chunks and sautéed until tender. The flavor is similar to the stalks of other green veggies like asparagus and broccoli, but without being fibrous or smelling funky. Then a bit of Oaxaca cheese is added to the blossoms to add saltiness, with its stringy mozzarella-type flavor. Press this mixture into a thick masa disk and fry until golden brown. The hearty empanada base and melty Oaxaca cheese turn an ephemeral, pretty flower into a hearty full blown meal.
Bring a bit of México to your kitchen: The good thing about Oaxaca Restaurant is that in addition to being our go to place for several types of mole, the mini mercado also sells plenty of hard-to-come-by Oaxacan ingredients. Mole bases (red, black, and Colorado), plenty of spices, sauces and other Oaxacan ingredients share shelf space off to the corner. So snag some ingredients to season your empanadas when your meal is done. We haven't seen much in the way of pumpkin flowers at our local mercado, but you can always substitute the easier to come by squash blossoms that taste almost the same.
Know of any Mexican gems in the Valley? Reveal your family secrets in the comment section.