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Mexican oregano provides a unique flavor to traditional Mexican dishes. It is an essential ingredient for your kitchen pantry.
WHAT IS MEXICAN OREGANO?
Oregano is a staple in all Mexican kitchens. We use this spice in recipes like Menudo or Pozole Rojo.
However, what many people don’t know is that there is a BIG difference between Mediterranean oregano and Mexico oregano.
WHAT EXACTLY IS MEXICAN OREGANO?
To Mexicans, oregano is something we use in several of our authentic Mexican recipes. Other people hear the word “oregano,” and they think of Italian food.
Actually, you will find oregano in most kitchens across the world. It’s one of the most common herbs in many recipes. Because of its prevalence in Italian cuisine, it’s even referred to as “the pizza herb.”
Oregano is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. It has been used in both cooking and medicine for many thousands of years.
Not only does it add flavor for dishes but it is reported to have numerous health benefits as well.
Many culinary experts believe that Greek oregano happens to be the very best while others tout oregano from Italy, France, Israel, Turkey, and other Mediterranean countries. Each oregano has a slightly different taste depending upon the growing conditions of the particular country.
Uh oh. Watch out! Here it comes. Think of this as a culinary cage match: Mediterranean versus Mexican. “In this corner representing Italy….” “And in this corner from Mexico…”
Mexican oregano, however, is a whole different beast. It’s indigenous to Mexico and originates from a totally different plant family, Verbenaceae. Bet you didn’t think I was going to get all scientific on you, did you?
As a result, it has a citrusy flavor to it. That’s because Lemon Verbena is also a member of this herbal family. Some people find it to have a bit of a grassy or earthy taste. But remember: Taste buds do differ from person to person.
The difference, however, is very subtle. The citrus undertones of this type of oregano lend themselves as a good fit in traditional Mexican cuisine.
CAN’T I SUBSTITUTE REGULAR OREGANO FOR MEXICAN OREGANO?
The short answer is, yes. Most Mexican food cooks substitute with regular oregano all the time without realizing it.
Seriously, here’s the deal. The omission or addition of one herb rarely will make or break a dish. However, ideally, this Mexican herb is the one that complements a dish and elevates its flavor.
WHERE CAN I PURCHASE IT?
If you’re on a Mexican culinary treasure hunt, you’re not likely to find the fresh version here in the U.S. It is likely to be found dry. I even have a hard time finding fresh Mexican oregano in Mexico.
If you are fortunate enough to have local Hispanic food markets, you’re bound to find the dried version there. Gourmet shops are also likely to carry it in their spice aisle.
When all else fails, and the weather is bad, you can always buy it online. (AFFILIATE)
HOW SHOULD I STORE IT?
A cool, dry place is the best location for storing spices. It’s also best to store it away from light. Excess light can accelerate the deterioration of any spice. Keep it cool and dry so it lasts for several months.
IS BUYING MEXICAN OREGANO REALLY WORTH IT?
The answer is a great big “Si!” Its unique flavor can transform your food into something extraordinary. Trust me. You will notice the difference.
Recipes Using Mexican Oregano:
Pozole Blanco is all about the toppings, and one of the must have ingredients is Mexican Oregano. Just crush some of it in your hand and add it to your soup for a little zesty goodness.
Add a pinch of Mexican oregano when you’re making Pickled Red Onions. It will give them a boost in flavor and deliciousness.
There are several ingredients needed to make Homemade Chorizo. One of those is Mexican oregano. It elevates the flavor to this tasty meat.
If you have any questions, let me know. Also, please let me know about your experience in using it. I’m certain that you’ll love the difference that it can make!