ORLANDO, Fla. – If you want to make some traditional Hispanic dishes for your family to enjoy this Hispanic Heritage Month, your best bet is to bypass your local regular grocery store and head straight to a Latin one.
Here in Central Florida, we have plenty of options for Hispanic grocery stores. Some of the names you may recognize include Sedano’s, Bravo Supermarkets, Compare Supermarket, Unidos Supermarket and there are plenty of smaller, locally owned markets and bodegas where you can get authentic foods and ingredients you won’t find on regular shelves.
But our large chains have gotten a little bit better at stocking some items you may need for popular recipes. We all know what tortillas and salsa are, but do you know what some of the items on the shelves are? Here’s a list of some of what you can find at your local Publix.
Guava paste is a very thick, purée of guava fruit. It’s often used in pastries, cookies, tarts or even empanadas. It’s also enjoyed on top of cheese, like a cream cheese or cheddar.
They’re a popular snack, crispy-fried and made out of thinly sliced plantains, which look like bananas but are not. They’re not as sweet as bananas and have a bit more of a nuttier taste, definitely more starchy, more like a potato. They have to be cooked to be enjoyed.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
This is a staple in many recipes around the world. But when it comes to Hispanic recipes, we’re talking awesome desserts like flan, tres leches, cheesecakes and more.
Milk Caramel Spread
Also called dulce de leche, it’s like a caramel you can put on all kinds of desserts or on ice cream, or even over pancakes or toasts. You can buy it already made or make your own using sweetened condensed milk.
Sofrito is a Spanish-seasoning sauce that consists of onions, peppers, garlic, olive oil and herbs like cilantro. Some also include tomatoes. It’s a base for many recipes in Spanish, Latin American and Portuguese cooking.
It’s a basic seasoning used in many recipes that’s a blend consisting of things like coriander, cumin, achiote, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. You can mix your own or buy it pre-mixed, with or without salt depending on your dietary needs.
Tostones are a staple throughout Caribbean and Latin American dishes. They’re crispy flattened discs that are more savory than sweet in nature. You can make your own tostones out of unripe green plantains, or you can buy them already made out of plantains, or like these, which are actually made out of breadfruit.
There are many brands and versions of this beverage. It’s a lightly carbonated, non-alcoholic malt beverage that’s very sweet. Some say it tastes like molasses and it’s recommend to enjoy chilled.
Kola Champagne is a very sweet soda, often described as similar to a cream soda. It was invented in Puerto Rico more than 100 years ago.
Croquettes are often described as a fried snack made of leftover foods. They’re held together with something like mashed potatoes and rolled in breadcrumbs. Cubans typically make these with ground ham and you can buy them ready-to-cook from the freezer section.
Empanadas are baked or fried turnovers that are usually filled with things like cheese, beef, chicken, veggies, or whatever you like. You can buy the dough already prepared and stuff them with your favorite filling. You can even try making a dessert pastry with the guava paste and cheese!
Mojo Criollo Marinade
This is great pre-made marinade. In Cuban cooking, mojo applies to marinades made with garlic, olive oil, and citrus with herbs. It’s most often used to marinate roast pork, but can be used for chicken or beef as well.
Pan de Yuca
These are pre-made ready-to-cook small cheesy bread bites made with yuca flour. It’s often enjoyed for breakfast, but goes well on the dinner table, as well. You can also make your own.
Crema Mexicana Table Cream
This is a rich and creamy table cream that’s similar to a crème fraiche, but it doesn’t whip. You can pour or drizzle it straight from the container, it’s great drizzled over enchiladas, tacos or to balance out the spice in many Latin American dishes.
This is a soft, moist cheese that’s curd-like, light and fresh. It’s a little tangier than mozzarella but smoother than a goat cheese. It’s often used as a finished on top of many dishes.