Oregano is a full-bodied spice that is both powerfully aromatic and a bit complicated. The use of oregano is so wide spread and comes in so many variations that some folks have even suggested that it would be more appropriate for oregano be classified more as a flavor than a specific species.
Mexican Oregano is native to Central America, Mexico and the southwestern United States (southern New Mexico and Texas). Mexican oregano is also known as Mexican marjoram, Mexican wild sage, oregano Cimmaron, redbrush lippia, scented lippia and scented matgrass. Mexican Oregano is most frequently grown in Mexico and Guatemala.
In most kitchens there are two types of oregano that are the most frequently used – the more well known in this country is the variety Mediterranean Oregano (Origanum vulgare) which is a member of the mint family and is also known as true Oregano, or Greek Oregano. The other is Mexican Oregano, Lippia graveolens, a member of the Labiatae family and a close relative of lemon verbena. Mexican Oregano's popularity is rising in this country for Latin, South American and Mexican cuisine, Mexican Oregano is quickly gaining recognition for it's subtle differences in taste.
Mexican Oregano has a similar flavor profile to the Greek version but the taste is quite unique. Mediterranean Oregano is closely related to Marjoram and is also very similar in taste. In Spanish, oregano translates to marjoram. . The ridged leaves of Mexican Oregano are oval in shape and slightly elongated with a slightly hairy texture.
Many Mediterranean dishes have corresponding American recipes where it is best to match the ideal flavor profile using Mediterranean oregano, olive oil and olives. With Central American, Latin American and South American dishes Mexican oregano is the oregano called for. Lots of opportunity to experiment with both of these.
In Mexico, it is a signature flavor for bean dishes, burritos, moles, recados, tacos, tamales and fresh salsa, Throughout Central and South America it is used in roasts, soups, meat soups and with baked vegetables. In the Dominican Republic Mexican oregano is used to flavor sancocho (a hearty 7 meat stew), in Mexico it's popular in pozole de frijol (bean stew) and in Ecuador its added to fanesca ecuatoriana (also known as Easter soup).
Mexican oregano has an intense aroma of oregano while the is a bit citrusy with subtle hints of lime and licorice.
Mexican Oregano is outstanding in enchiladas and also in egg and cheese dishes (such as Huevos Sonora). Mexican oregano is ideal for flavoring bean dishes, mixed fruit, tomato sauces and stews. Combine olive oil with oregano and brush on foods for the grill, it is also ideal to combine with other spices for a salt-free blend.
Mexican Oregano works well in combination with chili powder, chiles, cumin, garlic, onion and pepper.
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