Hugo's Street Food of Mexico


by Hugo Ortega

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Ceviche de huachinango

Red Snapper Ceviche | Makes 4 servings

 The following recipe celebrates my first taste of ceviche from that wonderful day in Veracruz when family and friends gathered for a memorable wedding celebration. In this recipe, I used red snapper. If preferred, substitute salmon, grouper, tilapia or halibut. Fish is “cooked” when it is white and no longer translucent, and feels firmer to the touch.


  • 6 oz red snapper, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp finely diced white onion
  • ¾ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro plus 4 sprigs for garnish, divided
  • 1 tbsp pitted green olives, sliced
  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ avocado, peeled, pitted and diced plus 8 slices for garnish, divided
  • 1 recipe totopos (page 119), optional to accompany


Combine snapper, onion and lime juice in glass or ceramic bowl. Make sure snapper floats freely in lime juice to ensure thorough and even marinating. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Strain and discard lime juice.

 In separate bowl, combine tomato, pepper, chopped cilantro, olives and olive oil, toss to combine. Add snapper and salt, toss. Fold in diced avocado before serving. Serve in four chilled martini glasses. Garnish and serve. Accompany with totopos.


Huaraches con nopales y frijoles de olla

Sandal-Shaped Masa Cakes with Diced Cactus Paddles and Beans |Makes 4 servings

 Huaraches are oblong masa cakes in the shape of a sandal, or “huarache,” with a small ridge pinched around the edge. My favorite are those made with blue corn masa as they remind me of my childhood. At Hugo’s, we make a smaller version of these, huarachitos, and offer them as an appetizer. If you are making them for a party, shape the masa up to one day ahead and store as directed on page 21. Cook them again in melted lard just before topping and serving.


  • 1 lb masa (fresh or prepared from mix, page 24)
  • 1 tbsp corn oil
  • 4 tbsp lard, melted
  • 1 cup frijoles de olla (page 132)
  • 4 nopales (cactus paddles), cleaned (page 249)
  • ½ lb quesillo or also known as queso Oaxaca
  • ½ cup salsa de tomatillo (page 119)


For the huaraches (make ahead up to 1 day): Divide the masa into four equal masa balls; cover with a moistened kitchen towel while working. Roll out each masa ball into a cylinder, about 8 inches long and 1 inch thick. Working one at a time, place each cylinder in between two large pieces of parchment paper and lightly press down with the palm of your hand until achieving a long oval masa cake of an even ¼ inch thickness.

 Place comal over low heat, preheat 5 minutes. Drizzle with corn oil and wipe off excess with a paper towel. Cook each huarache on the hot comal 3 minutes per side. Remove from comal and while still hot, pinch a border about ¼ inch deep all around the huarache, creating a well. Have a clean, moistened kitchen towel nearby to wet fingers to prevent them from burning. Store huaraches according to directions on page 21 until ready to prepare toppings and serve.

 Before serving: Place comal over low heat, preheat 5 minutes. Working one at a time, place each cactus paddle on the hot comal and sear, about 6 minutes per side. Place cactus paddles on a clean cutting board and dice.

 Working one at a time, drizzle 2 teaspoons melted lard onto the hot comal and 1 teaspoon inside the well of each huarache, making sure it is evenly coated. Place on the comal well-side down and cook until crispy, about 2 minutes. Turn over and crisp the base of the huarache, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and transfer to a warm platter.

 Top each huarache with ¼ cup frijoles de olla, followed by ½ cup diced nopales, a handful of quesillo and 2 tablespoons salsa de tomatillo.


Salsa fría en molcajete

Freshly Handmade Green Tomatillo Salsa | Makes 1½ cups

 A traditional piece of equipment in salsa making is the three-legged mortar and pestle, or molcajete, made out of volcanic stone. In many Mexican households, a molcajete is handed down from generation to generation. Using it requires a little bit of extra elbow grease but gives a great taste when used in a recipe. It is important to add the salt to the molcajete before the other ingredients. It will create the necessary friction for the pestle to move more freely. I suggest serving the salsa in the molcajete, accompanied by a small wheel of queso fresco and warm tortillas as a simple and delicious appetizer. A food processor can be used as an alternative for this recipe.


  • 1¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 5 medium tomatillos, husks removed, lightly roasted, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ small white onion, lightly roasted, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, lightly roasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole serrano pepper, roasted, stemmed, coarsely chopped
  • ½ medium avocado, peeled, pitted, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ small bunch pipicha, optional
  • ¼ small bunch cilantro, leaves only


Place salt on molcajete and mash a couple of times with the pestle. Add tomatillos and mash into a chunky purée. Add onion, garlic, pepper and avocado; mashing after each addition. Add pipicha, if using, and cilantro. If using food processor, place tomatillos, onion, garlic, pepper and avocado and pulse four times. The salsa will have a chunky texture. Add pipicha, if using, and cilantro and pulse twice.