Hard work and mastery of traditional Mexican flavors have lead Gonzalo Guzmán on an improbable journey from dishwasher to 35-year-old chef and co-owner of perhaps San Francisco’s hottest Mexican spot, Nopalito.

In his new cookbook Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen, written with Stacy Adimando, he shares not only recipes from his acclaimed kitchen, but delightfully unpretentious insight into his love affair with masa, chiles and the other ingredients and techniques that define Mexican cooking.

The book is divided into Background and Basics, Small Plates, Big Plates, Drinks and Desserts and Nopalito Salsas. Recipes are preceded by brief introductory paragraphs explaining the dish’s origin and role in the local cuisine, as well as a few helpful hints to keep in mind before starting prep. The accompanying pictures are striking, vivid and sure to induce anticipatory hunger. Start with ceviche Nayarita de camarón, a basic shrimp ceviche with lime juice, red onion, serrano chiles, cucumbers and carrots, then move on to Tacos de Cochinita, with pork marinated in Guzmán’s Recado Rojo recipe.

"Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen," by Gonzalo Guzmán with Stacy Adimando, tenspeedpress.com

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