Brooklyn’s Most Craveable Wood-Fired Mexican Food
Brooklyn’s Most Craveable Wood-Fired Mexican Food What makes the wood fire flavor so unique is the smokiness, I think that smokiness sort of embeds a really rich earthiness that is ancient. Mexican ingredients almost have a smokiness to them with the dried chiles that take on that smoky flavor so we’re just sort of creating food that’s just crave-able. I think a big thing with traceability for me is a little bit of heat, a little bit of spice, and that’s where we always try to make sure that we’re rounding out those flavor profiles with the wood fire. Creates salivation and makes things a little more delicious, in my opinion. Mexico is the first country I went abroad to and I’ve continued to travel all throughout the country in my time. Picking up little things here and there. I went to Oaxaca as a little bit of a food tour. I was exposed to the central market in Oaxaca City and there’s one section of that market where it’s just all open-fired, wood-fired meats. The whole section of the market was just smoky and scallions going on the grill and thinly sliced marinated cuts of meat. This was like heaven for me. That’s a lot of where this inspiration came from to do this. There’s a restaurant in Mexico City called Contramar and they’re famous for this dish, it’s a fish that’s split open through the middle, they grill it on their grill, and half the fish has a green salsa, the other half has a red salsa and its just the dish you can’t miss if you go to Mexico City.
More of wanting to tribute that dish, it was more of a tribute to that restaurant as a whole. It’s just an incredible institution, that’s what a restaurant is to me. So we fell in love with that restaurant, as many other people have, and that dish. We didn’t want to rip it off completely, so it’s just sort of a way to do our little touch and I definitely wanted to showcase a whole fish that was on the wood fire. So, from there we split open a branzino, put it into a cage, drizzle it with this herb brush. We take an hoja santa paste and spread that on the flesh side of the fish, close the cage and then grill it, mostly75% on the skin side down so the skin gets crispy and renders. And from there we flip it to cook the flesh side quickly. And then we take it off and put it on the plate. It’s served with a mole Amarillo. So the mole Amarillo is basically sort of like now taking one of our favorite items we found in Mexico City with one of my favorite moles from Oaxaca, we also serve that dish with tortillas and we serve it with crispy potatoes tossed in that hoja santa puree. All those things put into that tortilla is a great bite.
Brooklyn’s Most Craveable Wood-Fired Mexican Food The concha especial, that came from Chef Matt, who’s our chef de cuisine here. The green chorizo on that sandwich was something that we found in Mexico City, I’d never seen that before. So when we were traveling down there we’d had some tacos with green chorizo on it, and I never knew of such a thing. And so, this was our outlet to do that. It’s everything you could think of that’s green in Mexican food, there’ s cilantro, there’s epazote, there’s oregano, there’s serrano, so with the concha being sort of sweet on its own, then chorizo has a bit of sourness to it, so sort of sweet and sour, and then we’re drizzling salsa cruda over the top, which is the tomatillo. Crema drizzled over the top, sliced onions, queso fresco, avocado, serrano, cilantro-based salsa that’s uncooked, fried egg on top. You can’t really lose with all those things on there. It’s become one of our most popular items and it’s good, it’s tasty. Tlayuda is like a large corn tortilla.
It’s pressed out and then it toasted and since it’s so big it sort of stays a little leathery, and so what we do is we take that after it toasted on the plancha and then take fresh cornfrom the farmers market, shucking it, grilling it, cutting it off the cob, adding mayonnaise, cotija cheese, epazote, and salt, then that goes onto the wood-fire grill and then spreading that over that tlayuda. Taking that question, string cheese, and putting that over the top of the tlayuda, drizzling an herb oil over it. The grill crisps up that Ayuda from the bottom and we just kind of keep turning it so when it comes out its sort of crispy around the edges, crispy on the bottom but still sort of chewy on top. We’re using all these Mexican chiles and items that are so smoke already and we’re throwing them on the wood fire to elevate the smokiness. Then we top it with Oxomoco hot sauce, sliced scallion, cilantro. So it’s like kind of two classic market items merged together to make something extremely crave-able. I feel like I’m tied down to the menu that’s strict to one region, so we had to be clever with our menu. People love to talk about that. But we wanna have fun, we wanna have good food that just tastes great and is fueled by the wood fire.