Note: This drawing is now closed. Acclaimed chef Roberto Santibanez of Fonda restaurant (with locations in Manhattan and Park Slope) just published a new book. In fact, if you live in the U.S. or Canada and would like to be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Tacos, Tortas and Tamales, just post a comment below. But this amazing dish is not from the new taco book. The thing is, I was asked to help out with the new book just at the very end of the publishing process — I didn’t edit it from the start. Of course I was happy to assist because the food at Fonda is so wonderful, and you probably know I’m a huge fan of Mexican food. The book is so new, I haven’t even gotten to take a copy home yet to start cooking from it. But a couple years ago, chef Roberto published an amazing book called Truly Mexican, a must-have for anyone interested in the cuisine. Just as the new taco book was being published, I ran into Roberto at the Grub Street festival at Hester Street Fair (a great event!) — he was serving a white mole, which I’d never heard of before. He insisted I try it out (twist my arm!), and it was a bit of a revelation for me. What were these nutty flavors? Roberto happily told me the recipe is in his last book, Truly Mexican.
We looked at the recipe together, and Roberto explained the secret (besides almonds) is sesame seeds, but not just any kind — you have to use the unhulled variety. I immediately went on a quest to find sesame seeds specifically labelled “unhulled.” While that turned out to be challenging at first, it turns out they’re pretty easy to find in specialty markets. They’re basically darker than the more common, very white variety of sesame seeds. So if you see both types for sale in a market, you’ll know the difference right away. In fact, as Roberto says, if you squeeze one of the unhulled ones, one of the whiter seeds should pop out.
The recipe turned out amazing. The texture wasn’t quite as fabulous as Roberto’s, but I think it can vary a lot depending on how much you puree the ingredients in the blender first, and how much stock you add while cooking. But trust me, the texture doesn’t matter one bit because the flavor is just so wonderful (and unusual), you’ll be devouring it. Add to that, the dish is equally good if by some miracle you have leftovers. The photo right above is from the next day, and while the texture changed a tiny bit, the flavors may have gotten even better. Now I really can’t wait to start trying recipes from the chef’s new book, Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales — and remember you can enter a drawing for a free copy simply by posting a comment below. The drawing will be closed at the end of the day on November 14th. Good luck.