For a Real Taste of Mexico Try Chamoy Anything
If you are looking for genuine Mexican food, skip all the chain restaurants. Neither American-Mexican nor Tex-Mex are legit. They may be an interesting take on Mexican food more suitable for an American palate, but they are not the real thing. For real taste of Mexican food without going full bore, try chamoy anything.
Chamoy is a Mexican condiment usually presented as a sauce. It is actually derived from fruit. But truth be told, you are more likely to taste chili powder and salt when you add chamoy sauce to food. There are two reasons for that. First is the process by which chamoy is made, and second is the fact that chili powder is one of the main spices utilized in Mexican recipes.
Pickle the Fruit
So how do you make chamoy? You start by pickling some fruit. Technically, you could choose just about any fruit. Plums, apricots, and prunes are top choices. By pickling them in a salty brine, you actually dehydrate the fruit by drawing moisture out of it. The fruit itself can be processed and sold as saladitos. As for the brine, it becomes the foundation for chamoy.
The brine is mixed with chili powder for starters. Additional spices can be added to create the desired flavor. In some cases, that’s it. The resulting product is put in a bottle and sold as a thin, liquid sauce. But if you want a condiment with a bit more substance, the brine and chili powder mix can be thickened with pureed fruit.
The pureed fruit can be the same variety you started with or something entirely different. Additionally, you can make your chamoy anything from tangy to sour to sweet just by adjusting the type and amount of pureed fruit you add. Needless to say,chamoy doesn’t come in just a single flavor. There are all sorts of flavors to choose from.
The Origins of Chamoy
You might be interested to know that while chamoy is truly a Mexican thing, it didn’t actually start in Mexico. Chamoy’s origins are not definitively known, but many suspect they are Asian. In fact, there are three theories of how the Asian pickled fruit made it to Mexico.
According to the people behind the Chilito Loco online store, the first theory suggests that Philippine workers migrating to Mexico brought their ‘champoy’ with them. Champoy is a variation of pickled fruit that Chinese immigrants took to the Philippines in the 16th century.
The second theory suggests that chamoy came about as a result of Chinese immigrants living in Hawaii in the 1800s. However, it is unclear how their champoy would have made it to Mexico.
The third theory puts the development of chamoy in more modern terms. It suggests that Japanese immigrants brought their version of dried and pickled fruit to Mexico in the 1950s. What was known as umeboshi to them became chamoy to their Mexican hosts.
The Addition of Chili Powder
Regardless of the true origins, what makes chamoy different is the addition of chili powder. No doubt that chili powder is an authentically Mexican thing. It is the basis for all sorts of Mexican recipes and one of the most utilized spices in the country.
The addition of chili powder to pickled fruit brine gives it a spicy kick. It makes the fruit brine somewhat hot, but it also brings out the fruit flavors themselves. And because the brine is salty, you end up with an interesting combination of sweet, salty, and savory all in one. That is what makes chamoy what it is. That’s what makes it authentically Mexican.