Huevos ahogados literally translates to drowned eggs. The deliciousness of this dish may be lost in translation. But, if you enjoy eggs in a spicy salsa, this is it! And if that wasn’t enough, add fresh cooked nopalitos. I do enjoy an authentic carne asada (grilled steak) and costillas (ribs), but there are so many delicious meatless options when it comes to Mexican food.
My favorite brunch recipes typically don’t include meat.
First brunch recipe that comes to mind is migas con huevo or chilaquiles. Then there’s huevos rancheros, nopalitos con huevo, nopalitos en salsa, queso con chile, calabacitas con queso, quesadillas with huitlacoche or flor de calabaza, tacos de frijol and that just the simple dishes. Not to mention, huevos a La Mexicana and papas con huevo. All the dishes I mentioned can really be enjoyed any time of the day or night.
So many salsas, so little time!
I have lost count on how many variations of salsa roja I have prepared over the past 40 years. What do I consider a salsa roja? Yes, there is your table salsa or salsa de mesa that is served almost daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then there is the more spicy, fiery red varieties that include chile de arbol, chile piquin, chile puya and chiltepin! The fiery ones I enjoy with barbacoa and carne asada tacos, actually all tacos, lol! The last salsa roja category, for me, are the salsas made up of mostly dried chiles with some aromatics, spices and very little tomato or tomatillo. Mostly used for enchiladas, braising, stewing and dishes like this!
When we are kids, sometimes we don’t appreciate the abundance of traditional food ingredients!
My first memories of Mexico as a child are of of about age 6. I remember my dad taking me to Mercado Juarez to pick out a piñata for my birthday. Pink Panther was my favorite cartoon at the time, so I found the biggest Pink Panther piñata! Not only piñatas there, but the explosion of fresh fruits, vegetables, dried chiles, spices and all kinds of meats. If I close my eyes, I can still see the stalls piled high with all kinds of fruits and fresh chiles. You could distinctly smell the mangos, sandia, chiles frescos and aroma of fresh chorizo being prepared. What I wouldn’t give to be able to visit the Mercados of Mexico these days.
Nopalitos, cactus, was one of those food ingredients that I didn’t care for as a kid. Now I crave it daily!
My first contact with nopales was shopping with mom in Los Angeles at the local Vons store. She would have me hold the plastic bag open as she placed the cactus paddles in. I would be so careful, but always ended up with a thorn or two in my fingers, lol! Maybe that’s why I didn’t like them! These days, I cannot get enough when it comes to nopales. I absolutely love them and would choose a nopal taco over any other taco when possible.
Cooking fresh nopales is easier than you think!
Learning to cook fresh nopales on my own was a big production, lol! First of all, there were no fresh nopales available where I lived in upstate New York. I relied on the jar of already cooked nopales when I could find them. Over the years, I was stumble upon small Mexican markets and always come home with a big bag of fresh nopales. Instant flashbacks of thorns getting stuck in my fingers and I would procrastinate when it came to cleaning them. After a few tutorials online, I just went for it and learned to clean them. Once they are clean and sliced, simply place in a pot. Add some onion, garlic, chile serrano, cilantro and salt. Cover and cook below medium heat, stirring as needed until the nopales release their liquid and it evaporates 95 % of the way. Ready! You can rinse lightly or use them as is.
What do you do with that big bag of dried chiles if you only need 6 chiles?
There are one thousand and one uses for dried chiles in a wide variety of recipes. No room to store them? In the past, I have toasted them and then used a coffee grinder(just for spices) to make fresh ground chile powder. Store the powders in airtight containers in a cool, dry space. You can rehydrate by mixing the chile powder with boiled water. It has to be very hot. Toast the ground powder with other dried spices to create a flavorful adobo or spice blend for chorizo, different meats and soups like menudo or pozole. The possibilities are endless. Best place to order dried chiles online, hands down is Toluca Foods! Tell them I sent you!
Not sure about epazote because of the strong aroma?
Because I am a curious cook, I had to try the epazote fresh in a quesadilla. I confess that I enjoy it more for in soups, stews and salsas like this. Described as being between basil and mint, but more pungent. I let is simmer in my dishes for the last 10 minutes of cooking, then remove it. Unfortunately, fresh epazote is hard to come by unless you are growing it in your own backyard. I freeze the fresh epazote flat in between paper towels placed in a freezer bag.
When I don’t know what to cook, egg dishes are fairly easy and tasty too!
Not a fan of poached eggs in salsa? Scramble the eggs in a separate skillet, then gently fold them into the salsa with nopales.
The key to huevos ahogados is to cover and not disturb the eggs for a good 6-8 minutes.
Let’s just say that you don’t prefer to add nopales.
You could fold in some diced fried potatoes, calabacitas, mushrooms, rajas de poblano, cubed queso panela or all of the above, yes! Huevos ahogados with any of those additions would be delicious!
Fresh made corn tortillas is a must to scoop up all that!
Huevos Ahogados Con Nopales-Drowned Eggs
- 6-10 dried chile puya
- 5 dried chile guajillo
- 2 dried chile cascabel
- Avocado oil
- 1/2 medium white onion
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 large Roma tomato
- 4 c water
- 4 tsps tomato bouillon, optional
- fresh cracked pepper, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- pinch of oregano
- handful of fresh epazote
- 1 1/2 cups previously cooked nopales, diced cactus paddles
- 8 large eggs
- Heat 5 cups of water to medium in a sauce pan.
- Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles. If they look dusty, wipe them down with a damp paper towel. Transfer the dried chiles to a large skillet that has been preheated to med/low for a few minutes. Toast the chiles until they become aromatic and look slightly blistered or blackened in some spots.
- Transfer toasted chiles to water that is heating and cook for 8-10 minutes.
- In that same large skillet, pour in 2 teaspoons of avocado oil. Add the onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the tomato and sauté for another 4 minutes. Transfer all of the ingredients, including the softened dried chiles to the blender. Pour in 4 cups of water. Also add 4 tsps. tomato bouillon and fresh cracked pepper. Blend on high until smooth. Set aside.
- Again, in that same large skillet, preheat 2 teaspoons of avocado oil to medium. After a few minutes, pour in the salsa from the blender. Stir well to combine. Taste for salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix in a pinch of oregano, then some fresh epazote leaves. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
- At this time, I removed 2 cups of the salsa and reserved it for another recipe. To the remaining salsa, mix in the nopales. Stir to combine. Once at a time, gently drop in the cracked eggs, spreading them out evenly. Reduce heat to below medium. Cover skillet and continue cooking, without stirring, for 7-8 minutes. If you want the eggs fully cooked, leave them a little longer.
- Using a large serving spoon, add two eggs per plate with plenty of salsa and nopales. Serve as is with warm tortillas or with a side of refried beans.