This page contains information on Mexican black beans and recipes for Mexican black beans.
Black beans are a type of bean native to the Americas. It was thought to have originated in southern Mexico and central America 7000 years ago. Like corn, it was eaten by the natives of those areas long before the colonists brought other foods to the continent.
No wonder, then, that black beans are a common ingredient in Latin American and even south USA cooking. Modern Mexicans are no exception; black beans, for them, are an extremely favoured foodstuff. It is probably the most commonly eaten bean by Mexicans. This is the case most of all in the south of Mexico and Veracruz. Lighter coloured beans such as the pinto bean are more favoured by north Mexicans; while central Mexicans eat some of both sorts.
Where To Get Mexican Black Beans
Black beans are not just cultivated in Mexico, of course. Anywhere in the world, you can buy them, and they may have come from various different places. They will all be as good. Mexican black beans may seem more authentic, of course, but any old black bean will taste the same.
And rest assured that you are getting authentic black beans. Most black beans on the market are exactly the same as the beans which originated in the culinary traditions of what is now Mexico 7000 years ago. “Black turtle beans”? Yes. “Frijoles negros“? Yes. Those are just the same as Mexican black beans.
And you won’t necessarily need to go to a Mexican shop to find them! I buy black beans in my local organic shop.
The only two things you can confuse Mexican-style black beans for are black soya and fermented black beans. Black soya may be labelled “black beans”, but you’ll only usually find them in a Chinese shop. And fermented black beans, also known as douchi, will be labelled as such (or as “salted beans”). They are also soft to the touch, unlike dry Mexican-style black beans.
Mexican Black Beans
Here is a simple recipe for Mexican black beans.
500g (1 pound) dried black beans
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
3 medium cloves of garlic
1 japano chili pepper, or other chili pepper, fresh or dried, to taste
1 tbsp salt
Prepare the beans overnight by soaking for at least 8 hours in water with the teaspoon of baking soda. (See How To Cook Black Beansfor a more in depth guide on how to cook black beans)
Drain the beans and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Add a drop of olive oil to reduce foaming, and remove foam with a spoon as it comes up.
Chop the onion, and chop finely or crush the garlic. Fry for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Chop the cilantro. Add that, the salt, and the fried mixture to the beans. Simmer until the beans are soft.
Drain the cooking liquid, but keep it. Pour 200ml (1 cup) back into the bean mixture, then mash a little with a fork until you have a good consistency. Add a little more cooking liquid if needed.
Your Mexican black beans are done! Serve with lime juice to taste. Mexican black beans are excellent served alone or with rice.
How To Make Mexican Refried Black Beans
Another simple recipe for Mexican Black Beans – or refried black beans to be exact, in this case – goes like this.
First, cook your black beans. You’ll need to soak them overnight with some baking soda, then boil them until tender. Conserve the cooking water.
Mash the black beans with a fork or potato masher. Now, in a saucepan, fry some finely chopped garlic in olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add the beans. Stir in just enough of the cooking liquid to make the beans into a smooth paste.
Cook until thick.
You can serve this with bread, tortillas, tacos, or tortilla chips. Yum!
The Black Bean Incident In The Mier Expedition In Mexico, 1842
As a historical aside – did you know that Mexican black beans played a role in the skirmishes between Texas and Mexico?
In 1842, 700 men from Texas entered Mexico to perform a raid. Their idea was to hit back after raids that had been performed by the Mexicans on Texas.
However, the raid didn’t gain full backing from the Texan government, and so the leader of the raid ordered his men to disband and pull back.
However, 300 or so ignored those orders. They participated on an attack on Ciudad Mier. Unfortunately they were unaware of how strong the nearby Mexican force was, and they were forced to surrender.
Some of these new prisoners later escaped, but they were caught again. The government of Mexico ordered their execution.
Eventually, though, diplomacy efforts made the government decide to be a little kinder. It would only execute one man in ten.
So 159 white beans, and 17 black beans were placed in a pot. Each prisoner was forced to draw a bean from the pot. Those who drew a Mexican black bean, died.
And so it was.
The moral of the story? War is crazy. And black beans can be pretty scary in the wrong context.