Special thanks go to Justin Chan for teaching me the basics of Mexican cooking!
Being from California and used to great, cheap Mexican food, I wasn’t satisfied by Beijing’s handful of expensive Mexican restaurants. So when I get cravings, I whip up these healthy, Mexican-style chip and dip combos right at home with ingredients from Beijing’s markets:
3 green peppers
2 large onions
bag of baked sweet potato chip (in season during fall/winter in Beijing)
3 large tomatoes
1 bunch of cilantro
fresh chili peppers (if you like spicy)
1 can black beans (Sanyuanli and foreign markets carry these)
1 can sweet corn (Sanyuanli and foreign markets carry these)
1 package Bob’s red mill TVP (April Gourmet carries this brand, but if you don’t want to go there you can also buy 1 block regular firm tofu at any market)
Onions and Green Peppers:
1. Wash 3 green peppers, chop lengthwise into thin strips, set aside.
2. Peel off outer layer of 1/2 of a large onion. Chop the onion lengthwise into thin strips, set aside.
3. In pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil. Add onions on low heat and saute until color changes to light brown.
4. Add green peppers and saute until desired softness achieved.
5. Add 1tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tbsp of cumin, and 1 tbsp of garlic powder to start.
6. After spices are mixed in, taste a vegetable and add more spices according to your preferences.
7. Ready to eat!
Mild Tomato Salsa
1. Wash tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch size chunks.
2. Mince 3 cloves of garlic.
3. Using 1/2 of an onion, dice into small pieces.
4. Wash 6 stems of cilantro and chop 2 inches off from the bottom. With a sharp knife cut the cilantro into tiny pieces. For this step, don’t to use a dull knife and cut each part of the cilantro only once, otherwise you will smush the cilantro and it won’t taste as fresh.
5. Mix all ingredients together with the juice of half a lime, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper.
6. Ready to eat!
Corn and Bean Dip
1. Using 1/2 of a white onion, dice into small pieces.
2. Open can of bean and corn, drain out all liquid.
3. In frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil, then add the onions.
4. Saute onions on low heat until they turn brown.
5. Add beans and corn, stir into onions and saute on low heat for 2 minutes.
6. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tbsp cumin, and 1 tbsp garlic powder, stir.
7. Wash 5 stems of cilantro and chop 2 inches off from the bottom. With a sharp knife cut the cilantro into tiny pieces. For this step, don’t to use a dull knife and cut each part of the cilantro only once, otherwise you will smush the cilantro and it won’t taste as fresh.
8. Add chopped cilantro to mix, turn off heat, stir for one minute.
9. Read to eat!
“Ground Beef” Dip:
1. Boil 1 cup of water and add to 1 cup dry TVP, let sit for 5 minutes, then drain the water. OR take about a 500g firm tofu block and use hands to crumble it into small pieces (like the picture below).
2. Dice 1/2 of a white onion and 3 cloves of garlic into small pieces.
3. Slice hot pepper into thin, circular pieces.
4. In frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil.
5. Add diced onion, garlic, and sliced hot pepper, saute on low heat until onions turn brown.
6. Add TVP OR tofu crumbles, saute on low heat until it warms up.
7. Add 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of black pepper, 1 tbsp of cumin, and 1 tbsp of garlic powder, stir.
8. Taste mixture to see if it’s good, adjust/add spices accordingly.
9. Ready to eat!
Sweet Potato Chips
This one is easy, just grab a bag of baked sweet potato chips at one of the sweet potato chip sellers all around Beijing. It’s only about 10RMB for a giant bag. You can also buy tortilla chips if you prefer, but sweet potato chips are a little more nutritious and also more tasty in my opinion.