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A Glossary of Oaxacan Food

Dishes, ingredients, and beverages from Oaxacan cuisine, defined

Four types of mole in small cups with a tortilla atop a colorful traditional tablecloth.
Moles from Guelaguetza
Wonho Frank Lee

Oaxacan Food Glossary

Ajonjolí: Sesame seeds

Alambre: A hash of Oaxacan meats sautéed with onions, bell peppers and melted Oaxacan cheese served with corn tortillas for making tacos

Asiento: Unrefined lard

Almendrado: Almond-based mole

Barbacoa Blanca: Lamb barbacoa

Barbacoa Enchilada: Chile marinated goat barbacoa

Blandas: Large Corn Tortillas

Burrito mojado: In Oaxacalifornia, wet burritos are covered in mole

Cecina: Chile Marinated Pork

Chapuline: Crickets

Chapulines a la Mexicana: Chapulines sautéed with tomatoes, chile jalapeño, and onions with quesillo.

Chepil: A perennial legume, called chipilín in Central America

Chichilo: mole with a base of chile chilcuacle negro, chile pasilla, chile mulato, and charred tortillas

Chilacayote: drink made from squash and sweetened with honey, cinnamo, and brown sugar

Chile de agua: Long fresh green chile that resembles an Anaheim but with substantially more heat

Chiles rellenos: An egg battered stuffed chile de agua filled with a sweet and savory picadillo (ground meat)

Chorizo: a reddish pork sausage wrapped in short links

Choriqueso: Oaxacan chorizo with Oaxacan cheese

Empanada: a large tortilla grilled on the comal, often filled with chicken and yellow mole

Shelves at Sabores Oaxaquenos, Los Angeles
Wonho Frank Lee

Enmoladas: Enchiladas in mole negro

Entomatada: enchiladas in tomato sauce

Epazote: A hardy perennial and part of the family of quelites (wild greens)

Escabeche: Vegetables marinated in vinegar

Estofado: Stew, a type of mole in Oaxaca

Festival de moles: An original mole sampler from Guelaguetza with Mole negro, mole rojo, mole coloradito, and estofado

Garnachas: slow roasted tortillas filled with chopped meat, also a general name for masa-based snacks throughout Mexico

Hierba santa (also called hoja santa or acuyo in other parts of Mexico): An aromatic heart-shaped leaf full of complex flavors

Hoja de aguacate: Avocado leaf

Manchamanteles: “Tablecloth-stainer” mole, fruity mole with a base of chile mulato, chile ancho, plantains, and other fruit

Memelas: Thick round tortillas topped with lard, crumbled cheese and salsa

Mezcal: A distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave in Mexico. Most mezcal is produced in Oaxaca.

Michimobile: A vintage and stylish Volkswagen bus outfitted with a DJ console that has beer taps on board to promote the Lopez family’s michelada mix, which is maybe the coolest thing of the 21st Century

Mole amarillo: Yellow mole, a viscous mole with a base of chile costeño amarillo, hierba santa, chayotes and green beans

Mole coloradito: Little red mole, a lightly sweet mole with a base of chile chilcoxle, chile ancho, plantain and chocolate

Mole negro: Black mole, a complex mole consisting of multiple ingredients with a base of chile chilhuacle negro, chile chilhuacle rojo, chile mulato, chile pasilla, chocolate, herbs, seeds, and more

Mole rojo: Red mole, a mole with a base of chilhuacle rojo, chile ancho, chocolate, and epazote

Mole verde: Green mole, a stew-like mole with a base of chile jalapeño, epazote, hierba santa thickened with masa

Molotes: Potato and chorizo fritters

Nicuatole: a gelatinous dessert made with corn and sugar

Mezcal at Guelaguetza
Mezcals at Guelaguetza
Wonho Frank Lee

Pan de yema: a local pan dulce made with egg yolks

Parrillada: Various braziers served with Oaxacan meats, melted cheese and vegetables, tortillas, and sides that’s a tribute to the carnes asadas vendors in the Tlacolula Market.

Piedrazo: a hard-bread doused with pickled vegetables or fruit

Pinole: Toasted ground corn mixed with other ingredients

Quesillo, or queso Oaxaca: Oaxacan string cheese that’s wound into balls

Sopa de guias: soup with squash flowers and stems and herbs

Taco de la abuela: An original taco from Expresión Oaxaqueña of tasajo, cecina or chorizo wrapped in a tortilla blanda

Tamales oaxaqueños: Tamales steamed in banana leaves

Tasajo: Soft beef jerky

Tejate: a pre-Hispanic beverage made with toasted cacao, toasted corn, cacao flowers and mamey seeds which is drunk naturally or with added sugar

Tlayuda/Clayuda: a large thin, artisanal corn tortilla essential to Oaxacan cuisine that’s also a dish of the same name in which the tortilla is covered with asiento, refried black beans, quesillo, vegetables, salsa, and Oaxacan meats: tasajo, cecina, and choriz

Tuxtepecana mixta: A tribute to Oaxacan coastal cuisine in which seafood, onions and pineapple chunks are cooked and placed in a half pineapple boat

Note: Oaxacan chiles are listed in various mole descriptions here and the chiles named in the moles on this list are generalized as Oaxacan moles have innumerable regional and familial variants

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