We all know what oregano is, but What is Mexican Oregano? Will it add more flavor to my dishes than regular oregano? Where can I buy some? Can I use it as a substitute for traditional oregano? All of these frequently asked questions are about to be answered; read on my friends!
What Is Mexican Oregano?
If you’re like me, and loved cooking as a young child, you were used to rummaging around the kitchen pantry, eyeing all the different herbs and sprinkling them into sauces and soups without much consideration. One such herb that is largely under appreciated and little explored is Mexican Oregano. This is an herb commonly used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine to add flavor to soups, sauces, and a whole variety of dishes. However, as I am about to discuss, Mexican Oregano and traditional Oregano are completely different in origin, plant species, culinary use, and flavor.
Mexican Oregano Vs. Oregano
Much of the confusion about this subject stems from the naming convention used to distinguish “traditional” Oregano from Mexican Oregano. Traditional Oregano (that commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine) is from the mint family, whereas the “Mexican” version (Lippia graveolens), also called “Wild Oregano”, is from the verbena family. Although the two herbs share some similar flavor profiles and their physical features aren’t too dissimilar, they are from two completely different species of plant.
Additionally, Mexican Oregano is grown and harvested in Mexico and South America, whereas traditional Oregano is native to Western Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean.
For cooking purposes, traditional Oregano is most often found in Italian sauces, soups, and dressings, whereas Mexican Oregano is used in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, also for sauces, soups and other dishes.
“Fair enough,” you say, “I’ll just reach into my pantry and use whatever version of this flaky green stuff I have on hand.” Not just yet! As you’ll soon find out, they don’t taste quite the same.
What Does Mexican Oregano Taste Like?
Mexican Oregano has a slight citrusy flavor whereas traditional Oregano is more sweet and a bit peppery. As mentioned, they do share some similarities in flavor, yet differences between the two is considerable enough that they make poor substitutes. Which brings me to my next point.
Mexican Oregano Substitute
I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to cooking, which is why I’m not a fan of substituting regular Oregano for Mexican Oregano or vice versa. The flavor profiles are too dissimilar that (in my opinion) you’d be better off just omitting any oregano at all if you can’t use the Mexican version. However, there are many who disagree and feel it won’t ruin any dish if you commit what I consider to be sloppy cooking practices. Maybe next time you drive past your local Mexican market you can swing in and buy some and do a taste comparison for yourself. Which, brings me to the topic of “where the heck can I buy this stuff?”
Where Can I Buy It?
Mexican Oregano can be purchased at some supermarkets in the international aisles. Commonly they are sold in plastic bags and hung on a rack along with other Mexican seasonings and dried chile peppers. However, you will have the best luck locating this wonderful herb at a Mexican market. And, last case resort, you can buy it online through Amazon.
How To Store It
Store it (as you would any dried spice) in an airtight container. Additionally, keep it in a cool place where it won’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
I hope you’re now convinced that this herb is not only worth using but should be used properly. So, now the ball is in your court! Go get yourself some of this wonderful seasoning and start experimenting. I’m going to leave you with a few recipes to test it on below! I promise you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re looking for some great recipes to begin using Mexican Oregano in, I’ve got you covered.