World Chefs: Sauces are key to Mexican cuisine

Jul 12, 2011, 3:02 a.m.

Q: You were consulted for Carlos Santana's Mexican restaurant chain MariaMaria. Did your food inspire him?

A: "I hope so. Just like his music has inspired me for many years. Who hasn't been moved by the music of Carlos?"

Basic Guajillo Adobo (Makes 1-1/2 cups)

Active time: 15 minutes

Start to finish: 45 minutes

3 ounces guajillo chiles (12), wiped clean, stemmed, slit open, seeded, and deveined

3/4 cup water for blending, or more if necessary

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1-1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon fine salt, or 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon sugar

Rounded 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Heat a comal, griddle, or heavy skillet over medium-low heat, and toast the chiles 2 or 3 at a time, turning them over and pressing down on them with tongs frequently, until they're fragrant and their insides have changed color slightly, about 1 minute per batch.

Soak the chiles in enough cold water to cover until they're soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard the soaking water.

Put the 3/4 cup of fresh water in the blender jar with the chiles and the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, at least 3 minutes, adding a little more water if necessary to puree. If you'd like a silky texture, strain the adobo through a medium-mesh sieve.

Tips: Use this puree as a marinade for seafood and meat. Or turn it into a cooking liquid or sauce for eggs, beans, and enchiladas.

This adobo keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to one month.

(Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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