Published by: Julia
Gabriela Cámara´s Mexican food masterclass is a must for anyone who loves food. She reveals the best way to make masa, tortillas, tacos, quesadillas, tamales and other classic Mexican dishes.
A little bit about your teacher Gabriela Cámara
If you are from the US, and like Mexican food, then the chances are you already know who Gabriela Cámara is. The Netflix show called A Tale of Two Kitchens has proved to be very popular in North America.
However, her career as a celebrity chef is still very much in its infancy, so if you are from elsewhere in the world, her name may be new to you. But, I promise you that you will be hearing much more from her over the next few years.
She is a natural in front of the camera and already a very good teacher.
This masterclass is all about the Mexican food she has been serving since 1998 in her Contramar restaurant, which is located in Mexico City. It is considered to be one of the city´s top restaurants along with Meretoro, which she also ran with Pablo Bueno. In 2015, she opened her 1st US restaurant called Cala, in San Francisco. It is already a big success.
Gabriela is without a doubt a very talented chef. This masterclass is all about Mexican cooking. But, I have my fingers and toes crossed that she will release another one about Italian cooking. This wonderful cook has both Mexican and Italian roots and was bought up in the USA. Which I think is one of the reasons her approach to cooking is so interesting and universal.
Authentic Mexican food made the easy way
She makes recreating the eclectic cuisine, which is Mexican cooking, seems not only doable but easy. Aside from packet kits, I had never cooked Mexican food before. But, the recipes I have tried, so far, from the course turned out really well. So, I will certainly be cooking more.
How to make masa
In Mexico, you rarely eat a meal that does not contain corn in one form or another. There are around 60 varieties of heirloom corn, with more being uncovered all the time. You can buy yellow, white, red and blue corn, which comes in all kinds of kernel sizes. The starch content varies too, which has a big impact on the texture of the food you produce with it.
Masa, which is best described as a very versatile dough, is made from corn. It is a staple of Mexican food. Gabriela shows you how to make it step-by-step, from scratch using a hand grinder.
Making the perfect corn tortillas
Once you have your masa, you are ready to make tortillas. Gabriela demonstrates each process and does so in detail. She includes tips like 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 uses a tortilla press, which I did not have. So, I would have appreciated it if she had shown me how to make them by hand. But it is actually not that hard to do. However, her tips on how to cook them were invaluable. It was good to see her explaining how to do it on a griddle as well using a traditional clay comal.
Even more helpfully she also explained how to store them. First, to keep them warm, then later how to keep them once they have been cooled.
Classic Mexican salsa recipes
Sauces are very important to Mexican cuisine. Every cook has their favorites, including Gabriela. In this class she shows you how to make:
- Salsa verde crude – a raw green sauce
- Salsa brava – a hot sauce
Both of these sauces are used quite a bit throughout her masterclass. Unfortunately, I cannot get tomatillos in my area, so was only able to make some of the recipes. In theory, you can use green peppers or de-seeded green tomatoes with lime, as a substitute. But, in reality, I am pretty sure the taste and texture would be very different if you were to use tomatillos. So, I have ordered some canned ones, so I can try to make this sauce. I did this out of desperation.
Later in the course, Gabriela says not to use tinned tomatillos. But, by then I had ordered them and could not cancel.
In other sections of her masterclass, Gabriela also shows you how to make several other sauces. They are all really delicious and versatile:
- Salsa verde made with fresh parsley
- Salsa tatemada – charred salsa
Tacos al pastor – Achiote-marinated pork tacos
Tacos are an especially tasty dish. In Mexico, al pastor style tacos are extremely popular. Normally the meat used is spit-roasted. It is a very popular street food dish so the spits the meat is cut from are huge. But, using Gabriela´s recipe you can make a scaled-down version and serve it to your family.
The achiote marinade she uses can easily be made at home. It is very versatile and can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. So, it is a great marinade/sauce to learn to make.
More taco ideas
When you take the course, be sure to download and read through the workbook. When you do, you will discover several great dishes that have not been included in the videos. Gabriela´s ideas for other types of taco are an example of this. You really can put anything into a taco to create a delicious meal that fits in exactly with the way you like to eat.
Red and green roasted fish – Pescado a la Talla
This beautiful looking fish dish is one of the most popular in Gabriela´s Contramar restaurant. It is quite a complex recipe. But, making it will teach you how to make several other important dishes that you can use to create other meals. So, I would say it is well worth taking the time to make it. Here is what you will learn about in this video:
- How to make an herb-based green sauce
- A classic red chili sauce
- How to make frijoles aguados (refried black beans)
- How to roast a large butterflied fish
Gabriela Cámara´s handy guide to all things Mexican
Throughout the course, Gabriela shares a lot of tips and gives you a great overview of the key ingredients that are used in Mexican cooking. For someone like me who has never cooked this type of food before these guides are really handy. They include:
- A guide to corn
- A guide to the different types of tacos
- A guide to Mexican chilies
Most of them are included in the workbook. So, be sure to read it.
In fact, if you plan to take more of the 80+ classes that are available at masterclass.com I would recommend that you always download the workbook. They are usually very good. I was told by a friend to buy an all-access pass. It cost the same as it would if I had bought two individual masterclasses.
Yet, this pass enabled me to take every course on the platform. So, it was a great buy, from that point of view. Better still, I also now have a collection of really great books in pdf format that I can dip into and out of as I like. You can read more about what to expect from masterclass workbooks by reading my full review here.
Fried eggs with two salsas – huevos rancheros
I love huevos rancheros. When I am in Spain, that is my favorite breakfast or brunch dish. But, I had never made them myself.
It was really easy. Despite cheating and using shop-bought tortillas, it was delicious. Just as good as if I were to eat it in my favorite almuerzo restaurant.
Gabriela Cámara´s tuna tostados
This is a dish that Gabriela started to serve in 1998 in her New Mexico City restaurant, Contramar. Since then, it has become increasingly popular and is now served worldwide. I love the fusion nature of this extremely tasty recipe. There are Asian and Italian flavors in what is very definitely a Mexican inspired dish.
I really liked the fact that Gabriela explained how to make things gluten-free. Her masterclass is full of important little tips like this.
As a bonus, included in this lesson is how to make fresh mayonnaise. It is really easy to do, and you can flavor it with virtually anything. In this case, Gabriela uses canned chipotles.
How to make golden quesadillas
This was the most interesting video in the class. I have never made quesadillas, or seen them cooked. So, I really enjoyed this part of the course.
It was also fascinating to see her using a type of corn that had been infected by a fungus call Huitlacoche. It does not look very appetizing, but apparently, it is delicious.
I loved the fact that this quesadilla did not contain any cheese, which makes it vegan-friendly. It was also refreshing to see Gabriela make a mistake and show you how to fix the problem. This is one of the reasons, she is such a good teacher. This famous Mexican cook is personable and such a nice person to learn from.
Raw shrimp in lime and chili
A lot of Hispanic food cultures have a tradition of using lime or lemon as an alternative to cooking seafood or fish. It does not sound very appetizing but it is actually quite wonderful. I am a particularly big fan of ceviche especially made the Peruvian way. So, this is a recipe I plan to try, at some stage.
The quick-pickled onions which are part of the recipe are actually very nice on their own. So, even if you do not eat seafood you can still learn something from this section of Gabriela´s masterclass.
How to make Mexican tamales
Tamales are another dish I have never tried cooking before. So, again, I particularly enjoyed this part of the course. At first, I did not think I would be able to try this sweet tamale recipe because Gabriela used guavas, which are impossible to find where I live. However, once again, she had thought about this and shared several good alternatives in her video.
Unfortunately, there is no good alternative to dried corn husks. But, in most places, you can buy them online.
Alternatively, you can use banana leaves or parchment paper. But as Gabriela explains the taste is not the same. So, it really is worth buying your corn husks online.
Gabriela Camara workbook pdf
Like all of the teachers on masterclass.com Gabriela Camara provides a great workbook to accompany her course. This can be downloaded in pdf format, which means it can be read on any device. Gabriela Camara´s workbook includes quite a bit of additional advice, so it is really worth downloading and keeping it.
I´ve used my all-access pass to take around 40 of the masterclasses that are available on the platform. So, I now have an excellent collection of workbooks, which I really enjoy dipping in and out of.
The all-access pass represents excellent value for money. For the same price you would pay to take just two of the courses, you get access to every single one of the 80+ masterclasses that are available. Truly excellent value for money. By taking full advantage of what the platform has to offer you can expand your knowledge of all kinds of subjects and have a lot of fun doing it. You can find out more about doing this, by reading my full masterclass.com overview.