Seven dishes you must try in Mexico City: Chef Michael Smith, Mamasita

AGUACHILE DE CAMARON, CANTINA RIVIERA DEL SUR

One of the most memorable aguachile: raw prawns, quickly cured with a splash of acidic coconut ash dressing, then garnished with beautiful fresh vegetables and succulents. (Calle de Chiapas 174, Roma Nte.)

ELOTE, CHILLI AND EPAZOTE POZOLE, OZUMBA REGIONAL MARKET

This market (70 kilometres south-east of Mexico City) has amazing fresh produce. I had this humble little cup of soup an old lady was serving off the back of her bicycle. It was white corn, epazote (fresh green herb) and a hint of chilli – so good.

CONTRAMAR'S PESCADO A LA TALLA

This world-famous dish is a must for anyone travelling to Mexico City – the red and green marinated fish is grilled and served with black beans and a house hot sauce.

MOLE MADRE 1299 DAYS, MOLE NUEVO, PUJOL

The flavour profile is like nothing I've eaten before. It's two different mole sauces presented on a plate, the lighter colour one is a fresh sauce made that day or the day before and is very boisterous and bouncy while the darker one is an aged sauce – 1299 days old when I was there last and is rich, deep and smoky. Eaten together they are amazing. See pujol.com.mx/en/

ANT LARVAE TACO, MERCADO DE SAN JUAN

You need to find a shop that sells both insects and tacos – it sounds outrageous, but trust me, they're there and if you muster up the courage they are really quite delightful. Served with a little house red chilli and tomato salsa and a load of fresh herbs, think warm oysters in texture but nutty and herbaceous. As they say, "When in Mexico …" (Calle de Ernesto Pugibet No. 21.)

SUADERO TACO, LOS COCUYOS

We do a pretty close version of the Suadero from Los Cocuyos at Hotel Jesus in Collingwood (sister restaurant to Mamasita). This little taco uses secondary cuts of beef, braised then   fried in its own fat,  and served simply with coriander and onion. (7a Calle de Bolivar 54-56, Centro Historico.)

QUESADILLA OF QUESO OAXACA (QUESILLO) AND ZUCCHINI FLOWERS

This one is not so much about a particular place, but something Mexico City just does well everywhere. One of my favourites is made with a blue corn tortilla. The flavour of the blue corn is more earthy and sweet than the ubiquitous white corn, and it goes fantastically with all that cheese and zucchini flowers oozing out of it.

Michael has headed the kitchens at Jacques Reymond, Tonka, and co-owned Jorg in Melbourne. He has had a hand in three cookbooks and is now entrenched in the Mexican Cuisine at Mamasita in Melbourne's CBD, where he's been head chef since August 2016. Mamasita will be at Gourmet Cinema at Caulfield Racecourse, March 1-11. See gourmetcinema.com.au; mamasita.com.au

Comments