Chintextle Sauteed Mushrooms

Chintextle, or chintestle, is a savoury chile paste hailing from Oaxaca, a state known for its distinct culinary riches. The paste, made with the smoked chile pasilla of Oaxaca, or chile Mixe, named after the region of Oaxaca it’s from, is ground with the addition of garlic, salt and yerba santa. It often has the addition of dried shrimp or, as I’ve heard recently, pumpkin seeds.

It is used predominately as a “pilgrim’s paste,” something easily spread over a tortilla with fresh cheese for sustenance on long journeys. I’ve enjoyed it for breakfast in the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, spread on a tlayuda with stewed black beans and scrambled eggs.
On a recent trip, I went through the mornings-only market in Teotitlan with Reyna Mendoza as my guide, and luckily spied a vendor with little packets of freshly made chintextle for sale, this one made with dried shrimp, yerba santa and and roasted garlic. I promptly bought all six.
I’ve been using the paste in my kitchen in Canada, adding it into sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes and tossed in pasta, or atop a hot corn tortilla for tacos.
Chintextle imparts some fiery smoky heat, so I would recommend adding it in increments of a teaspoon at a time. (A teaspoonful was sufficient for 4 cups of sliced mushrooms and 4 chopped Roma tomatoes).
The resulting tacos are one of my favourites.
Recently, I sauteed a mixture of shitake and field mushrooms with tomatoes and chintextle and served it over lightly braised and garlicky winter greens for an elegant first course. Delicious.
When you’re in Oaxaca, pick up some of the paste. It’s easily tucked into luggage, and if you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen and find all the right ingredients, there are recipes for making your own chintextle in the Diana Kennedy tome, Oaxaca Al Gusto, and Susanna Trilling‘s book, Seasons of My Heart, where Trilling recommends thinning the paste with honey, orange juice and bit of olive oil and rubbing it all over a chicken before roasting. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?


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