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Huevos Rancheros…with a Twist

May 2, 2010

Huevos Rancheros

It’s spring and cycling season is officially open–not that we cyclists here in northern California ever really take a hiatus.  This time of year just means less layers are required for a comfortable ride.  To the back of the closet go the rain jacket and the shoe covers, hooray!  At least the last couple of days have been ideal for giving the old legs a good workout again, so I’ve done just that.  A few more weeks of regular riding and I hope I’ll be able to give my husband a run for his money (wishful thinking).  He’s already riding 150-200 miles a week which means I’ve got A LOT of work ahead of me.

All this riding also means that I’ve got to up the carb intake–both for fuel and recovery–so I’ve been on a pasta kick lately.  I made my favorite pesto sauce last night, but I’ll wait to share it since Cinco de Mayo is upon us, after all.  Instead, I’ll mark the occasion by sharing my version of huevos rancheros.

I’ve been wanting to try this dish since 2006, when I came across it at a beachfront restaurant in Tulum, Mexico.  While I love Mexican food, huevos rancheros has never quite captured my attention like an enchilada or a carnitas burrito would.  I was so pleasantly surprised when I tasted the Tulum version; my taste buds were so delighted by the harmonious fusion of Mexican and Asian flavors that I’ve never forgotten the dish.

Sambal Oelek

Image from

I’m not an expert on the traditional preparation of huevos rancheros but I can say that the corn tortilla, beans and fried egg anchor this dish to its Mexican roots.  The twist comes from the use of Sambal Oelek, a ground chili paste that is common in Asian cooking.  It lends a sharp, moderately spicy bite to whatever it accompanies.  Chances are, this chili paste shares the condiment tray with the soy sauce and white pepper at your favorite Chinese restaurant (just in case you’re wondering).

The last component of this dish is the salsa.  I seem to remember that in this version a cooked tomato sauce was used rather than a salsa fresca.  I don’t think this a departure from Mexican tradition but what I did to replicate the dish gave it the final Asian twist:  I used fish sauce.  Now before you click away from this page, please give me a chance.  If you like Thai and Vietnamese food, you’ve had fish sauce before–you just didn’t know until now–surprise!  In this case, the fish sauce was the best way to replicate the savory notes of the tomato sauté.  You don’t taste fish at all, but if you won’t try this, I suppose you can get away with using leftover pomodoro sauce.  It would be good, too.

This was Sunday breakfast today; I asked my husband to skip his steel cut oats/apple/yogurt habit in lieu of this.  I was quite happy with the way this turned out.  It was delicious fuel for this morning’s ride and just for a second, I was back on the beach in Tulum.

Note:  This dish doesn’t take long to prepare.  Prepping and assembling the layers took less than 3o minutes.

Huevos Rancheros

  • Eggs, one per serving
  • 1 15-oz can beans (I used low fat refried black beans)
  • Corn Tortillas, smaller size, one per serving
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Fish sauce, one teaspoon
  • Sambal Oelek, to taste
  • Avocado slices
  • Chopped chives (optional)

Once the individual components are prepared, this dish comes together pretty easily.  In a small sauté chopped shallot in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.  Next, add tomatoes and fish sauce and allow to cook, covered, until the tomatoes are soft.  This will take about 5 minutes so heat up the beans while you wait.  Set both aside when done.  In a separate pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat up the tortillas you’ll be using.  The last step is to fry up the eggs.

To assemble, use one corn tortilla as the bottom layer followed by the beans.  Lay one fried egg over the beans and top with the cooked salsa.  Lastly, add a small dollop of sambal oelek, some sliced avocados and garnish with chopped chives.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 6:58 AM

    I’m typically a sweet breakfast kind of person, but a recent trip to visit my brother in Austin made me realize how fantastic spicy egg dishes – like huevos rancheros – can be as a morning meal!

    • May 4, 2010 10:47 AM

      I’m not much of a breakfast eater at all (unless I’m on vacation)! This was actually not bad, considering I’d never made it before. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. May 3, 2010 9:05 AM

    Just stumbled upon your blog from Presto Pasta (I’m hoping to participate soon). Love your blog! Looking forward to trying this recipe 🙂

    • May 4, 2010 10:48 AM

      Thanks for stopping by Jennifer. Do post on PPN soon–last week was my first time and I enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. GiGee permalink
    May 3, 2010 7:49 PM

    This looks fabulous !! I’m not much of a breakfast person , but this is a sure try !

  4. May 4, 2010 6:44 PM

    hello! thanks for the comment and for the friend request on foodbuzz…
    huevos rancheros sounds sooo good. haven’t tried one but anything with egg sounds good to me… your photo is stunning btw…


  5. May 10, 2010 6:18 PM

    I’m Mexican and now I’m also very intrigued by this recipe. I recently discovered “fish sauce” and I just hate the way it smells (but I still use it in Vietnamese recipes). Now I really want to try this!
    Btw, I haven’t seen your fabulous outfits lately on tPF. How come?


    • May 10, 2010 7:47 PM

      Hi Emmy,
      I know this isn’t really an authentic Mexican recipe–more fusion, right? I think the guys who owned the restaurant in Mexico were Americans.

      I agree about the fish sauce. The only reason it doesn’t bother me is that I grew up with it. Since you already use fish sauce for Vietnamese recipes, you’ll understand that it doesn’t overpower the dish at all. It just adds a richness to whatever you add it to. If you try this, let me know how it turns out. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

  6. May 15, 2010 10:03 AM

    I usually like a light breakfast…but I can’t wait to make this for lunch/dinner. My husband and I also love to bike. He is a much more dedicated biker than me, but I’m hoping with the changing weather, I’ll get out and bike more. Thank you for sharing. I am just loving your site!

    • May 15, 2010 10:23 AM

      You’re so sweet, Monet, thanks. Unless I’m riding or on vacation, I’m not much of a breakfast eater at all, but I liked this one. A good bike ride definitely warrants a heavier meal.

      I like your blog a lot, too. 🙂

  7. July 30, 2010 8:56 AM

    Oh my! This is a lovely photograph! The colors are so vibrant! I bet the flavors are vibrant as well!

  8. July 30, 2010 10:55 AM

    I have that kind of chili paste in my fridge already, I can’t wait to try this!


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