• Kristina de Guzman

Taste the Tropics – Tropical Foodie Contest

Updated: Mar 7

Local foodies share their Latin-inspired recipes


Ingredients to make DIY chorizos, including ancho & guajillo peppers.
Photo: Stephen Kozma

Late last year, Paraiso Tropical Latin Market announced its Taste the Tropics – Tropical Foodie Contest on social media for a chance for shoppers and home cooks to win some store goodies.

Perhaps your belated new year’s resolution might be to do some more home cooking? Well, this is just the post to hopefully inspire more of you to experiment with Central and South American ingredients and do some more cooking at home!

Before we share with you the winning foodie photo and recipe, we’ll first share with you some of the other foodie photos that topped our list. We had a chance to contact a couple of other cooks who were kind enough to provide us with more details on their homemade meals – many thanks to all the foodies out there who took part in this culinary challenge!



Chili Verde with Sausage & Pumpkin

By Megan (IG: @etownitsmeagain)


“The dish [has] a Mexican influence. I based my dinner on Aaron Sanchez’s Chili Verde with Sausage and Pumpkin recipe [and the] cooking style that [he] is known for,” shares Megan. “Much like other things I cook, I use a combination of what I have on hand and what I can find locally.”


“I bought the hominy and tomatillos from Paraiso Tropical. I tried looking for both ingredients in other grocery stores, but Paraiso seemed to be the only place in the city that had them!” she observes. “The original recipe asks for fresh tomatillos to make a homemade tomatillo salsa, but I couldn’t find any.


I was able to find canned tomatillos at Paraiso Tropical, which worked really well! I also used Japanese kabocha squash in place of pumpkin.”


Megan adds that the chili is a one-pot dish, which is great for weeknights.


Chili verde with Sausage & Pumpkin based on Food Network's Aaron Sanchez's recipe.
Photo: Megan

Ingredients available at Paraiso:


Other ingredients:

  • Kabocha Squash

Steps:

1. Sauté chopped onions until they are a bit softened. Then add sausage & cook it until is brown & thoroughly cooked.

2. Season the above with oregano & garlic before adding the tomatillos, hominy & squash.

3. Let the pot simmer until the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked, but not mushy.

4. Garnish the dish with cilantro & chiles (“The recipe only calls to garnish with cilantro and chiles, but I added a bit of lime juice at the end for some acidity to balance out the heat,” offers Megan as a tip).

Brazilian picanha
IG Story: @bubathebostonterrier

Brazilian Picanha

By @bubathebostonterrier


For a simple recipe with few ingredients, check out the online grill’s post!


Ingredients available at Paraiso:

  • Black pepper


Other ingredients:

  • Sirloin cap, rump cover, or rump cap beef

  • Coarse salt (at Paraiso, we carry plain salt)










Pollo Posole Verde (Green Chicken Pozole)

By: Joe Bejcar (IG: @justjoebadger)


“This was a pretty simple recipe I found. I took a bulk of this recipe from a cookbook, but tweaked it a bit for my liking, and it turned out great,” Bejcar shares. “This was the first time my wife and I have ever had hominy and posole!


“We love salsa verde, so we thought it would be a cool thing to try something new and combine some of our favourite flavours, too.”


From Paraiso, Bejcar bought Juanita’s white hominy corn and a can of tomatillos, but there are a few other ingredients from his list that are also available in-store.


“Both my wife and I love food from Latin America, specifically Mexico,” says Bejcar. “So glad that we found your store and we will definitely be back for more ingredients!”


For his pollo posole verde, Bejcar used boneless, skinless chicken.


“I served [the finished dish] with some tortillas and a dollop of lime crema,” he says. “[Posole is] perfect for this cold weather we’ve been having!”


Ingredients to make posole verde. including hominy and tomatillos from Paraiso Tropical Latin Market.
IG Story: @justjoebadger

Ingredients available at Paraiso:

  • Approx. 4 lbs. of chicken thighs

  • 1 white onion (finely chopped)

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

  • 12 oz. of tomatillos (canned or fresh)

  • 2 fresh jalapeños stemmed (leave the seeds in for some extra spice)

  • Two 15 oz. cans of hominy

  • 2 ½ cups (or bunches) of cilantro

  • Salt & pepper


Other ingredients:

  • Approx. 4 lbs. of chicken thighs

  • Vegetable oil

  • 4 ½ cups of chicken broth


Steps.

1. First, set your oven to 300° F & move the racks to the middle.

2. Next, pat your chicken dry and season it with salt & pepper. Get your pot out, add some vegetable oil, and brown the chicken on both sides.

3. Pour off all but one tablespoon of fat from the pot, add in the onion & about a ¼ teaspoon of salt, and cook over medium heat for about five minutes. Stir in the garlic & oregano.

4. Next, you need to add in the chicken broth. Put about 4 cups in & make sure you scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of your pot. Bring the broth to a simmer & then add your chicken back into the pot.

5. Put the pot in the oven & let it cook for about an hour or until the chicken is tender.

6. Next, take the chicken out of the pot & set aside; let it cool slightly.


Now, you get to make the salsa verde! This really adds some kick to the dish & is very easy to make.


7. Take your tomatillos, cilantro & stemmed jalapeños and toss them into your blender with about a ¼ cup of the chicken stock. Blend them until it is a smooth mixture. This only takes about 30 seconds.

8. Take your salsa verde & cans of hominy and stir them into your pot. Let it simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. In the meantime, take two forks & shred your chicken thighs.

9. Once the chicken is shredded, you can add it all back into the pot & let it simmer for about a minute or two. Hope you enjoy!

Mexican dinner using some ingredients from Paraiso Tropical Latin Market.
IG Story: @tamaravineberg

Mexican Dinner Dish with Salsa Verde

By Tamara Vineberg

(IG: @tamaravineberg)


Ingredients available at Paraiso:














And the winner!...

Tacos mañaneros
Photo: Stephen Kozma

Tacos Mañaneros (Breakfast Tacos)

By: Stephen Kozma (IG: @tastingpeace)

Ingredients used to make chorizo for Tacos Mañaneros
IG Post: @tastingpeace

Stephen Kozma’s take on the traditional Mexican breakfast tacos was chosen by the Paraiso team in large part due to the comprehensive nature of his post, not to mention that he made his chorizo from scratch!


“Tacos mañaneros can be a simple quick sautéed chorizo taco, folded in a flour or corn tortilla,” says Kozma. “My favourite is to sauté the chorizo in a bit of oil over medium-high heat, add peeled and cubed rutabaga pieces (or potato or sweet potato), add water to just cover and let [the mixture] simmer until the root vegetable is cooked through and the water is absorbed.


“Folding this in small tortillas with fresh onion slices is a hearty and delicious way to start the day!”


Kozma says that for this particular recipe, he talked to some people from Mexico, along with people who have travelled to the country, for some ideas and inspiration.


“I look for authenticity where I wanna see someone from there – like a family recipe – I always look for something like that,” he tells. “Because my family background is Hungarian – I grew up that way – I try to find the same passion for [a country’s cuisine].


“I do see the commonalities through a lot of countries like how different countries work with pork. They’re gonna be very similar. Like in Hungary, they have their idea of a chicharrón, for example. So, it’s like you get to see [all] this and go ‘Everyone kind of figures it out!’


Cooking daily, even multiple times a day, Kozma also makes his own tortillas!


“It’s sort of a hybrid of a Mexican flour tortilla and this other stretched bread in Hungary where there’s sour cream in it,” he describes, explaining that the sour cream is like the fat, instead of the lard that is used for tortillas.


“With the dish I did, I made the chorizo beforehand, like I’d [make] it the night before and then you can do something quick like [tacos mañaneros] in the morning,” shares Kozma. “I usually have some kind of flatbread tortilla made, so it’s a quick sort of thing to put together.”

Taste the Tropics winner chooses amongst a variety of chiles.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

As a prize, Kozma was given the option to receive some products to help make some future meals. He decided to go with some Mexican oregano and a variety of dried chiles.


“I like making my own salsas, because there’s such a variety that you can do,” Kozma shares what he plans to make with his prize. “I was looking at how to make birria – the Mexican kind of stew beef dish that’s good on a taco – and that usually has a couple kinds of chiles in it, as well as oregano and a couple of other spices.

DIY chorizo using Paraiso Tropical ingredients.
Photo: Stephen Kozma

“You look around the world – everybody knows how to stew something, you know!” Kozma says with a laugh. “I like looking at that plate where you see that we’re all the same with food. There isn’t a lot of difference. There’s the details, but we all get the comfort from a similar thing."


As someone who has been shopping at both Paraiso North and South for the past ten years, Kozma is appreciative of the opportunity to explore Central and South America right at home.


“Thank you for all of the wonderful products you provide for my kitchen and all of Edmonton!”

Taste the Tropics Foodie Contest winner, Stephen Kozma, with Paraiso South manager, Natalia Marcenaro.
Photo: Kristina de Guzman

Ingredients available at Paraiso:

Chorizo with paste made of guajillo & ancho peppers, vinegar, paprika, garlic, bay leaf, pepper, and other spices.
Photo: Stephen Kozma

For the chorizo:


Other ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (450 g) ground pork

  • Hot water


Steps.

1. Soak the guajillo & ancho chili peppers in just enough hot water to cover for ten to fifteen minutes.

2. Grind the paprika, bay leaf, black pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander & cloves in a blender until it’s a fine powder.

3. Remove the stem & seeds from the rehydrated chilis. Add the chilis to the blender with the spices. Add the garlic, salt & vinegar and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick to purée cleanly, add a bit of the water in which the dried chilis were soaked in.

4. In a large bowl, add the smooth purée from the blender along with the ground pork. Stir together with a wooden spoon or with your hand. Wrap tightly with parchment paper & refrigerate overnight.

Chorizo with rutabaga.
Photo: Stephen Kozma