Madre de Dios! Nothing like seeing a great recipe on the web then failing to locate the right ingredients, am I right?
That’s why I was really intrigued when I first heard about the Mexican House of Spices at 2022 Douglas Street.
I’ve only been a couple times, but I’m only now getting interested in cooking Mexican because now I can buy the right ingredients and not asshat my way through a “close enough” recipe.
In its third year of business, the MHoS is your one-stop shop for anything Mexican, or even just spices of all kinds. Heck, they even have some Caribbean ingredients. Even if you’re visiting Victoria on the way back to the Mainland, this should be your last stop before blowing town. It’s right there on Douglas, on your way to the ferry, so why not?
Mexico’s national cheese, the hard-to-find queso fresco? It’s here. Cactus? Yup. House-made fresh tamale or fajita sauce, and salsas? Check! Here too. And just about every kind of dried hot pepper you wished you could find after watching Food TV.
If you’re looking to make anything from salsa verde to tamales and more, you’re gonna find your ingredients here. This mom-and-pop shop’s really worth a look for anyone who’s ever enjoyed South American cuisine and wanted to learn to make it.
Frankly, I’ve never seen a store this packed with Mexican ingredients in Vancouver. The store owners claim they offer more than anyone else in Western Canada. Who am I to dispute their claim?
Their only failing is their lack of marketing savvy, because people don’t know they’re there. Those of us who do are big fans, as the 100% approval on Urbanspoon attests.
They do a nice job of merchandising, the spices look fresh, it’s a very clean shop, and their housemade sauces are phenomenal. I use the salsa de rajita as a hot sauce with my homemade eggs Benedict and an avocado, see down below. She tells me to try it as a marinade, too, for grilling meats. Who am I to argue? Si, senora.
If you’re interested in any of their sauces, they’ll happily let you sample it before you buy it. They say it’ll keep in the fridge for a month. In fact, make a point of getting curious about food here and talk to the family. They’re passionate about their homeland’s food and they’re keen to get you feeling the same way.
They’re open every day, but they do not take credit cards, just debit and cash. They don’t have a website, just a Facebook page, which naturally hasn’t been updated since last fall, sigh. But still, I love this store! You will too. And, psst… try the salsa.
Mah Yummy Food
I made two things the next day with the ingredients I acquired. I used the hot salsa with my eggs Benedict. The stuff is killer. It’s really spicy but not like a “hot sauce” because you can have a larger helping of it.
What it doesn’t seem to have, unlike most hot sauces, is a vinegar aftertaste. It’s bright and hot, and it’s the perfect foil to the wonderful richness of Tyler Florence’s Hollandaise recipe, which is my go-to. My Benny construction goes like this: Slices of avocado play nest to the egg, sitting on top of a potato rosti I cooked in some of the leftover bacon fat from my locally-raised Tannadice Farms bacon, which I eat on the side because it’s so goddamned good. The Hollandaise has a little smoked paprika, and it comes after a liberal dredging of Mexican House of Spice’s Salsa de Rajita, which, as I mentioned, they say makes a wicked-good flavourful marinade for grilled meats, too.
I used the rest of the stuff in my carnitas en salsa verde, for which I used the nomnomnom recipe I found on Serious Eats and highly recommend, though I saved money and used canned tomatillos, using the briny water in the salsa verde, and it was really damned awesome. The only other thing I did differently was to add a tablespoon of cumin seeds to the pork when slow baking it, and I made it in my awesome cast-iron Dutch oven, because hey, I cook like the big boys do.