Authentic Mexican Cuisine Made Easy in Gabriela Cámara’s MasterClassJul 26, 2020 | 0 Votes by Mel - rate A “star of modern Mexican cuisine,” Contramar chef and star of the Netflix documentary, "A Tale of Two Kitchens", Gabriela Cámara shares the richness of her Mexican culture and time-honored traditions through dishes such as her famous tuna tostadas, and classic staples like tacos al pastor, quesadillas, salsa, tamales, tortillas, and other favorites.
Tortilla chips drenched in yellow cheese sauce, ground beef and shredded cheddar stuffed inside crispy taco shells…Americans’ idea of Mexican food couldn’t be further from the traditional cuisine based heavily on local, seasonal, and rustic ingredients used and enjoyed by native Mexicans.
With her knack for taking the street and family food classics of her childhood and putting exciting modern spins on them, it’s no wonder why Gabriela Cámara is a legend in both her native Mexico with Mexico City’s most popular restaurant Contramar and in California with her San Francisco restaurant Cala and her most recent launch of Onda in Los Angeles. On top of that, she has been a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation award in 2019 and 2017, was the subject of the Netflix documentary, "A Tale of Two Kitchens", and was named an advisor to Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
And now, the Mexican chef extraordinaire has even found the time to teach a MasterClass in authentic Mexican cuisine.
In her 13-part, 3 hour and 26-minute Gabriela Cámara Teaches Mexican Cooking series, the chef shares her take on classic homestyle Mexican recipes such as fresh corn tortillas, tacos, and tamales, as well as dishes that have made her famous—like her tostadas de atún that is Contramar’s most renowned dish. But her class is not only a chance to learn how to cook genuine Mexican comfort food, but also a way to explore traditional Mexican cooking equipment like comal or molcajete; and discover unique ingredients you’ve never heard of before like limestone and huitlacoche.
In this class, you won’t find Gabriela using pre-made taco shells or tortillas, instead you will learn to do everything from scratch, including making your own masa and salsa verde, which is the real essence of Mexican cuisine. And although some of the ingredients may be hard to find, Gabriela provides advice for sourcing the ingredients as well as suggesting alternatives.
After we are introduced to Gabriela and her story about how she became a chef (with her inspiration being legendary fellow MasterClass instructor, Alice Waters), we are taken straight into a lesson for Making Masa. Here, she stresses the historical, cultural, and nutritional importance of corn in Mexico and how this national staple, with its heirloom varietals and processes for nixtamalization, are ground to produce masa or corn flour.
Then, using the masa she made from scratch, Gabriela uses a tortilla press to show you how to make Fresh Corn Tortillas all while explaining her own personal history with tortilla making. She shares tips such as how to deal with a masa that is too dry and how to make them the right size for the dish you are cooking. She then goes on to explain how to cook them on a griddle as well through a traditional clay comal. Finally, Gabriela teaches you how to best store and reheat your tortillas.
Next, Gabriela demonstrates how to prepare the two Raw Salsas found on every table at Contramar: Salsa Verde Cruda, a vibrant tomatillo and avocado salsa; and Salsa Brava, a spicy mix of onions and habanero peppers.
With the tortillas and salsas ready, Gabriela proceeds to teach you a homemade version of the signature street food of Mexico City, Tacos al Pastor or Achiote-Marinated Pork Tacos. In this episode, you’ll learn how to make a traditional adobo rub, marinate the meat, cook the pineapple, and assemble the tacos. Normally, the meat used for street tacos is a huge slab roasted on a spit, but Gabriela´s homemade recipe will teach you how to make a scaled-down version for a small family.
Lesson 6 has Gabriela preparing a favorite entrée at Contramar, Pescado a la Talla which is a whole, butterflied fish slathered on one side with a parsley green salsa that pays homage to her mother’s Italian heritage, with a spicy Mexican red chili sauce on the other. The dish is then finished with a side of frijoles aguados (refried black beans).
The Mexican chef then shares the recipe for her favorite breakfast dish. Incorporating the fresh tortillas, salsas, and refried beans from previous lessons, she makes Huevos Rancheros Divorciados or Fried Eggs With Two Salsas. She then follows this with another salsa recipe called Salsa Tatemada which is a rich, charred, red tomato–based salsa made with a traditional Mexican molcajete (a mortar and pestle).
Much awaited Lesson 9 is where Gabriela shares the secret recipe to her famed Tostadas de Atún or Tuna Tostadas. Often imitated, but rarely perfected, tostadas de atún is Contramar’s most popular dish fusing Mexican, Italian, and Japanese influences. Here, she stacks a fresh corn tortilla with homemade mayonnaise and chipotle sauce, tuna slices, avocado, and fried leeks. She even shows you how to make a gluten-free version of the dish.
Unlike the cheesy flour tortilla quesadillas found in American fast food restaurants, Mexico City’s take on the quesadilla is masa-based, fried, and without cheese. In Lesson 10, Gabriela demonstrates how to make vegan-friendly Quesadillas Doradas made with huitlacoche, a kind of corn fungus that is sometimes referred to as the Mexican truffle.
Finally, Gabriela uses the last two modules of her cooking class to show you how to make a traditional Mexican appetizer and dessert. Aguachile de Camarón is her version of a ceviche made of shrimp, lime, quick-pickled red onions, and a chile-based sauce; while Tamales de Guayaba is a steamed masa with sweet guava filling wrapped in a dried corn husk. Again, if you can’t find guavas in your neck of the woods, Gabriela is thoughtful about offering several good alternatives in her video.
Gabriela then closes out her course with a lesson in The Art of the Details where the chef discusses the importance of hospitality in Mexican culture and that caring about every detail of a dish—such as never compromising on quality ingredients—yields the best results in whatever recipe you’re cooking.
Together with watching the excellently presented videos, it is imperative that students download and read through the PDF Workbook. The Workbook is a veritable treasure-trove of information, including several dishes that are not included in the videos. Gabriela´s variations of her taco recipe are an example of this.
Gabriela’s workbook also includes comprehensive overviews of the key ingredients that are used in Mexican cooking, such as the different varieties of corn and chiles and offers helpful tips and advice on how to source and prepare them.
Meanwhile, apart from the PDF Workbook and videos which you can access anytime, anywhere from your desktop, mobile/tablet, or TV (though Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV); student subscribers will also be able to leave Gabriela a question in the Office Hours segment, as well as join “The Hub” Community forum discussion section for each lesson that allows you to discuss lessons, ideas, and more with other students enrolled in the course.
Gabriela Cámara is just one of several world-renowned chefs who have joined the MasterClass online education portal to share their expertise and stories, including Gabriela’s role model and main cooking inspiration, Alice Waters; Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, Massimo Bottura, Dominique Ansel, and Aaron Franklin whose courses you can also access in their entirety with your MasterClass All-Access Pass for just $180. And if you’re interested in other subjects, the pass also grants you access to 85+ other excellent MasterClass courses available from the most famous and respected experts in their fields, whether in the culinary arts, business, sports & games, literature, lifestyle, music & entertainment, film & TV, design, and more.
MasterClass also has a Gift option where you can present your loved ones with either an All-Access subscription for $180 or a single course for $90. Whatever you choose, students can enjoy a 30-day refund policy for both packages if you are unsatisfied with the platform for any reason at all.
You haven’t tasted authentic Mexican cuisine until you’ve tasted corn tortillas, tamales, tacos, and salsas made from scratch and from locally-sourced produce. And there’s no better instructor to learn the best Mexican cooking from than Mexico City’s culinary superstar, Gabriela Cámara. Whether you’re discovering bona fide Mexican food for the first time or wanting to bring the much-missed flavors of Mexico to your adopted home, Gabriela’s traditional cooking techniques and mouth-watering recipes are the way to go!