En la Cocina… El Ten-ten-pie

By Jade Arroyo

El Ten-ten-pie is a long-time standard in town and has been open for 21 years. It is a good spot to go for a late dinner or a tasty casual lunch with friends and watch the people walk by. The name “El Ten-ten-pie” is a phonetic spelling of an old word in Spanish meaning a tasty snack that keeps you on your feet, without being a formal big meal. Open daily from 9am–12am, this versatile restaurant is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks.

To understand Mexican gastronomy, we need to understand that without chiles food just doesn’t taste right. The iconic chile is a very important element in the culture and its traditions. Combined with other ingredients, chiles are often made into a sauce to dress up almost everything on the table, from tacos and quesadillas to rice, eggs, meat, soups and almost everything in between. There is a seemingly infinite variety of chiles and styles of sauces.

The following recipe is for salsa de chile de árbol (chile de árbol sauce). Simple and piquant, its stimulating flavor will pump up many different dishes.

Sauce in the mortar
(1 cup or 6 servings)

10 dried chiles de árbol
8 tomatillos
1 clove of garlic
¼ onion
Pinch of sea salt

A large molcajete (Mexican mortar)


Peel the husks from the tomatillos and rinse off the sticky residue. Place the tomatillos, unpeeled garlic clove, onion and chiles on a hot, ungreased grill or pan to toast them, moving constantly to achieve an even roasting. After five minutes, take off the chiles to prevent them from burning, which would turn them bitter. Let the rest of the ingredients roast for a total of 10 minutes, then remove them from the heat.

In a Mexican mortar, grind the garlic, then the chiles, and finally add the onion, tomatillos and salt. The texture of the sauce depends on personal taste. For this sauce, the suggestion is to make it thick and rustic-looking, the much-liked salsa martajada (made in the mortar). Let it cool and it is ready to serve.

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