Pulque as a Cooking Ingredient

As the flavour and texture of pulque can be somewhat confronting it is often mixed with other ingredients to produce a drink known as a pulque curado. Curados can be flavoured with fruits (pineapple, mango, strawberry, watermelon), vegetables (celery, tomatillo, maize), nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts) or other flavours (oats, tamarind, coconut, cajeta). Much like the Mexican artistry in producing unusual flavour combinations for paletas the options for pulque curados are almost infinite. They are constrained only by the cooks’ imagination.

Mango pulque curado (1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans pulque (appx. 650mL)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped mango
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Method:

  • In the blender, add cinnamon, sweetened condensed milk, mango and pulque.  Blend until liquified.
  • Pour mixture into a bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill for ~1 hour.
  • Strain to remove and bits or mango pulp/strings.
  • Serve chilled and in a glass (or ceramic mug if you’re a stickler for tradition).
  1. Adapted from a recipe by Cocina Jarocha. This recipe uses canned pulque for those who cannot obtain the fresh stuff.  http://cocinajarocha.blogspot.com/2008/10/pulque-curado-estilo-perote-veracruz.html.

Curado de Coco (chef Victoria del Ángel’s recipe)

• 4 cups (1 litre) of fresh pulque

• 1 cup of shredded coconut

• 1 can of coconut cream

• Sugar to taste

Method

  • Mix all the ingredients in a blender slowly incorporating the pulque.
  • Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  • Serve.

Curado De Avena  (Arecetas)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of oatmeal
  • 1 litre of pulque
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 1 2.5 cm (1 inch) stick of cinnamon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 150 grams of sugar

Method

  • Soak oats in 250ml of pulque for one hour.
  • Add remaining pulque and ground spices.
  • Strain out the solids.
  • Lightly beat the egg yolks together with the sugar and add it to the pulque. Mix well and let it rest for an hour before drinking. (some recipes call for a tin of condensed milk at this stage – instead of the egg whites and sugar)

Oaxaca is famously known as the land of the seven moles (although there are in fact many more) but one that seems to be noticeably absent from the recipe books is the mole de novia. This white mole is unusual in that it contains pulque as one of its ingredients.

Mole de Novia “Brides Mole” – White Mole (Mole Blanco)

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dry sherry wine
  • 8 tbsp. of chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 8 roasted, deveined and minced chiles güeros
  • 4 tbsp of chopped leek (white part only)
  • 1 tbsp of anise seeds
  • 100 g of pine nuts
  • 100 g of peeled almonds
  • 50 g of sesame seed
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 500ml pulque curado – coconut
  • 500ml pulque curado – oats
  • 2 avocado leaves
  • 8 chicken drumsticks, cooked – or substitute with rabbit or turkey

(keep warm until ready to serve)

  • 100 g of fresh coconut, grated and lightly toasted

Method

  • In a pot, mix the sherry, the onion, the garlic, the chilli, the leek and the anise seeds; cook over low heat until the sherry has reduced. Remove from heat and set aside until needed
  • Fry separately (in a little butter) pine nuts, almonds and sesame seeds. Try not to colour them too much. You are aiming for a white (or very pale) sauce. Set aside until needed
  • Add the onion mix and the nuts/seeds to the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Lower heat and boil simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and liquefy with a stick blender. Set aside until needed. Alternatively you could grind together the onion mix with the nuts/seeds into a thick paste. This could be later thinned down with chicken stock when needed.
  • In a large pot, add the pulques and avocado leaves. Simmer until reduced by half.
  • Add the mole mix to the pulque and cook over low heat, until thickened.
  • Season to taste (use ground white pepper instead of black)
  • Garnish with lightly toasted pine nuts or shredded coconut

Notes

  • Some varieties of avocado leaf (P.americana I think) can be used like Bay leaves and have an aniseed like flavour. Can be substituted with tarragon or pericón.
  • If you do not have access to pulque curados then you can substitute with fresh pulque or (most likely) canned pulque.
  • Chiles gueros may be difficult to find. You could use a Hungarian Wax Pepper as a substitute
Chiles gueros “blonde chiles” (ignore the habaneros in the top right corner)

You can also purchase them canned

Pulque is also used as a cooking ingredient in such recipes as salsa borracha (drunken salsa), frijoles revueltos machacados con pulque (beans with pulque) or pan de pulque (pulque bread). In pan de pulque the pulque is used as a mild leavening agent and adds both flavour and nutrition to the dough.

Pan de pulque  

(Pulque Bread)

(recipe adapted from the Larousse book of Mexican cuisine)

Ingredients:

  • 7 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
  • 250 ml of pulque
  • 250 g of sugar
  • 500 g of sifted plain flour
  • 325 g of melted butter (which has been cooled to room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon of dry or powdered yeast
  • Butter (to grease baking pan)
  • 1 extra egg (to glaze)
  • Sesame seeds (garnish)

Method:

  • Beat the egg whites with the pulque for 5-8 minutes until foamy
  • While stirring add the yolks, sugar, flour, butter and yeast little by little to the egg white mixture
  • Pour mixture into a loaf pan than has been buttered and floured. Brush the surface with the egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out cleanly without batter stuck to it.
  • Serve when it has cooled.

The flour used in this recipe can be enriched with nopal or mesquite powders. The nopal will lower the glycaemic index of the dish while mesquite will change the flavour profile and add some of its own nutritional content.

Studies have been conducted on the use of pulque sediment (xaxtle) as a leavening agent to produce bread with a low glycaemic index (G.I.) (Torres-Maravilla etal 2016). Xaxtle is composed of the sediments accumulated during the fermentation of pulque and contains high levels of Lactobacillus bacteria. These bacteria (and others) are important as they can ferment the sugars in aguamiel and significantly lower the pH level of the bread. These bacteria are sturdy and can survive in both acidic environments (pH 4.5) and in high concentrations of ethanol. The acids help to reduce the G.I. by delaying the gastric emptying process thus slowing down and modulating the insulin response. The starch content of the bread was also altered by the xaxtle fermentation process and available starch content was lowered by almost 10% (9.8%) by the partial hydrolosis of the protein matrix of the flour used. The G.I of the bread produced with xaxtle was 51.8 while bread produced with the yeast S.cereviseae was 56.2. Foods are considered low G.I. if below a G.I. of 55. There are currently (as of 2018) experiments underway looking at freeze drying xaxtle for the purpose of using it as a leavening agent in producing artisan breads.

Here is another Pan de pulque recipe that incorporates amaranth flour and has flavourings reminiscent of Pan de Muerte (anise and orange)

Pan de Amaranto y Pulque (Amaranth and Pulque Bread)

Ingredients

  • 425g  Amaranth Flour
  • 75g Wheat Flour
  • 225ml Pulque
  • 250g Piloncillo or brown sugar
  • 1 Orange (juiced and zested)
  • 1 Tablespoon Anise seeds
  • 400g unsalted butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 100g Sesame Seed
  • 2g dried yeast

Method

  1. Mix together the pulque and the yeast
  2. Dissolve the piloncillo in 250ml hot water and add the anise seeds
  3. Mix together the amaranth and wheat flours and sift well. Set aside ¼ of the flour mix
  4. Mix together the sugar/water mix (while still warm) and the pulque/yeast mix
  5. Incorporate the flours and liquids and knead well to form a dough
  6. Add juice of 1 orange 
  7. Incorporate the orange zest 
  8. Knead well and form a ball of dough 
  9. Add remaining flour to the dough 
  10. Knead  well
  11. Empty dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place 
  12. Rest the dough until it doubles its size 
  13. Add the whites of 8 eggs and knead well
  14. Incorporate the butter into the dough
  15. Incorporate the yolks of the eggs into the dough 
  16. Set the dough aside again and allow to rest
  17. Pre-heat oven 200 ° C
  18. Shape the dough and place on a floured baking tray 
  19. Glaze with egg 
  20. Garnish sesame seed (or raisins/dried fruit)
  21. Bake for 25 to 30 min 
  22. Remove from oven and cover with a cloth (without touching the bread) and allow to cool

Another interesting product made from aguamiel is a type of medicinal icecream. This product, called Mayaoctli, is produced from a base of yoghurt to which aguamiel has been added. In 2018 students of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) developed the idea and the students of the National School of Biological Sciences (ENCB) created the product. The students created this recipe in an effort to preserve the knowledge of the pre-hispanic drink produced from the sap of the maguey called aguamiel.

Mayaoctli provides vitamins A, B and C, proteins, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and inulin from the aguamiel and is further enriched with the probiotics and calcium provided by the yoghurt. The product is flavoured with cranberry gel, which is rich in vitamin C and K, as well as flavonoids which provide further antioxidant activity.

This product does not contain alcohol. The aguamiel used in its preparation is carefully (and quickly) used as after 48 hours it begins to ferment into pulque and the alcohol content of the pulque alters the formulation of the product. Mayaoctli does not contain preservatives and it is recommened that it is consumed within 45 days of its creation.

Mayaoctli pulque icecream

The icecream was created as a medicinal product to combat gastritis and other gastrointestinal conditions.

With the rebirth and rising popularity of pulque in Mexico being spurred on by the new generation of hipsters (and an older generation of tlachiqueros) pulque is now being transformed into “el postre de los dioses” (1). A group known as Xochicuahuitl from Ixtapaluca in the region of Coatepec (2) in collaboration with graduates from the University of Chapingo are producing paletas (or pulcaletas) from pulque. The process has not been straightforward because a method was needed to remove the distinctive aroma of pulque while still retaining its flavour and maintaining a creamy texture. In addition to this it has been found that not any maguey can be used but that the carricillo is perfect in that pulque produced from it has a pleasant aroma and creates a smooth texture in the final product.

The pulcaletas are said to retain all the nutritional properties of pulque and are suitable for all ages although at this point there has been some difficulty with the manufacturers being able to sell the product anywhere but locally due to the general belief that pulque can only be considered an intoxicating beverage.

  1. The dessert of the Gods
  2. In the state of Mexico

There is still some lingering belief that it is a dirty product that requires faeces (1) in its production. Nothing could be further from the truth. After its production pulque was stored and transported in bags made of sheep, pig or cowhide. This would have definitely added a funky flavour profile to it but since it had already been fermented and due to its incredibly short shelf life (only a matter of a few days) this is a completely different issue and the pulque may certainly have been contaminated during this period of its lifecycle.

  1. this goes back to the early 20th Century when beer manufacturers sought to undermine the popularity of pulque by claiming that pulque producers used a muñeca (doll), a textile bag containing human or animal feces which was placed in the aguamiel to hasten the fermentation process. Although there are conflicting opinions as to whether this rumour held some basis of truth or was nothing but a slanderous lie. In my opinion I believe it to be an untruth. The proper production of pulque requires cleanliness as even the slightest polluting of the process will result in a lack of the correct fermentation needed. This can even occur if the bowl it is fermented in is not dried properly after cleaning and a tiny amount of water remains in it. The denigration of pulque may also be a form of racism (because “indigenous” people drink it) or a type of malinchismo (see Post on Malinche)

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