Salsa

Chop, mix together, and refrigerate 2 -3 hours

I use this in my homemade chimichangas.

OOOooo 7Ghent That sounds yummy:) I'm going to add the roasted tomatoes and olive oil to my recipe.
Thanks!

My own recipe is similar, only hotter and authentically New Mexican ;)

Roast half the tomatoes, the garlic and the jalapeños on a cookie sheet for approximately 15 minutes at 450 F. (until all are browned/lightly blackened.
Chop all remaining ingredients finely or use a food processor, particularly the garlic.
Add olive oil, mix well. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
Enjoy!

Spring Salsa: A perfect compliment to a cold pasta salad, which is best made in advance and served well chilled. The primary ingredients are chopped red and white onion, green and red bell peppers, torn arugula and escarole (you could use romaine lettuce or other salad greens, but the arugula and escarole provide a preferable contrast of flavours), and stewed Italian plum tomatoes (rough chopped). Season with lots of minced tinned chipotle peppers, salt, fresh cracked black peppercorns, basil, oregano, cumin and minced jalapeno. To this add a dressing composed of extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, fresh lime juice and fresh lemon juice. Mix well and allow to sit refrigerated for several hours before serving.

My favorite salsa recipe thus far:
two 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
one small can salsa casera (look in the Spanish food section of the supermarket)
a tied-together bunch of green onions

Chop the onions and throw everything together. With chips.

Glowin_Orbs Salsa (NOT mild)

  • Six or so Tomatoes. Get juicy ones, and make one or two romas
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a sweet onion, or more if you like. Walla-Walla or Mayan work well
  • 1/2 cup or so extra-virgin olive oil
  • About 8-10 mint leaves, chopped fine
  • A bunch of cilantro. Let your tongue be your guide, but I usually use about 1/2 cup, finely chopped.
  • Some sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, smushed
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 habanero peppers, finely chopped (A tip: coat your hands in olive oil before handling hot peppers]
  • 1 of those dehydrated red peppers they sell at Mexican food stores. Soak it in hot water for a while, and finely chop
  • A few finely chopped pickled jalapeno slices (4-5)

Chop everything up, mix it, and eat it.  It gets hotter if you let it sit overnight.

Still not hot enough? Add some Mezzatta's habanero sauce.
Here's how to make some good salsa

Ingredients:

What to do:

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Another method to make salsa is placing the above items (or items of the sort) into a food processor and start it up.

Salsa in Spanish means "Sauce", and because there are more people who like food than dancing here on E2, there's been a heavy emphasis on the dip/food Salsa.

For a different part of the population, however, Salsa is not just food, but one of the most energetic dances around. Fast-paced, sure to leave you sweaty like a dog, but still. Fun!

Salsa - The dance!

My first Salsa experience:

I enter the room in the basement of Oslo's largest Student Village hesitantly. Richard, my friend from Curaçao pulls me along. As the door opens, I am met by a girl/woman, about 30 years old. She is quite pretty, and drowns me in a tsunami of Spanish words spoken at the same speed as, say, a fine tuned Kalashnikov AK-47. Richard saves me from her by answering in Spanish, and we are admitted to the room.

When I am entering, I am met by a wall of sound. Cowbells, people clapping, trumpets, djembes, an electric bass guitar, a saxophone, a trombone, a three-piece choir, castanets, people stomping and singing, people dancing, people clinking wine glasses.

I am introduced to about five hundred stunningly beautiful girls (and this is before I got drunk) between 20 and 50 years old. They weren't necessarily so pretty, but they were... they were so alive.

About the Salsa

Salsa is all about being alive - the word Salsa, as mentioned, means Sauce. This is not a coincidence - the dance is a wonderful mix of a wide range of Latin and Caribbean dances, such as the Mambo, the Rumba, the Merengue, the Cumbia, the Cha Cha Cha, the Son and the Tango.

The beginning steps were easy to learn (trust me - If I can learn it, anyone can) , but from there it quickly got more serious.. Swinging hips, closeness to the dance partner, from quick little steps to long sweeping, whirling motions. And (of course) smiling faces.

The big thing about Salsa is that you don't dance with the same partner all night - In one night, I found myself dancing with 30-odd different partners. All of them were sadly better than me (being a male, you lead the dance. Disastrous if you don't know what you're doing. Extremely funny too, of course.)

The major impression I got fromt the Salsa, though: Everybody smiles. How can you do anything else? This is being alive at an entirely different level.

Salsa Music

Salsa music is typically quite fast - between 175 and 225 bpm. It often has a cowbell with a clear rhythm pattern that is easy (?) to dance to, and usually has lots of brass instruments. Go to a club and dance - I can't really describe it :)

As for bands... I wouldn't know, really.. Have a look at names like Wilfrido Vargas, El Gran Combo, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and Johnny Pacheco.. The first mentioned is my favourite, but YMMV

Learning Salsa

There are hundreds of Salsa clubs all over the world - have a look at http://www.salsabeat.freeserve.co.uk if you can't find one.

Oh, and in case I hadn't mentioned this yet:
HAVE FUN!
(Why else would you want to dance?)

-30-

OK, one thing there's never a shortage of is salsa recipes. Heck, there's not even a shortage of good ones, with as many out there as you can find.

However, some salsas stand out above others. One such salsa can be found at the Tex-Mex American restaurant chain, Chevy's. While much of their food is about average for Tex-Mex, they're known as having one of the best salsas you can find.

The recipe is much more labor-intensive than most, since you're not just simply chopping up a few vegetables. But it's worth it.

Chevy's Fresh Salsa

6 medium tomatoes
10 red jalapeno chiles
1/4 medium Spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Cilantro
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teasponns mesquite-flavored liquid smoke

Get your barbeque grill all nice and going at high temperature. If you happen to have a mesquite grill, then you can use that, and remove the liquid smoke from the recipe.

Rub some oil over the tomatoes, remove the stems if necessary, and place them on the hot grill. After about 10 minutes on the grill, add the jalapenos. Wait another 10 minutes, then turn the items on the grill. Grill the tomatoes until the skin is partially black, and falling off, and the jalapenos until the skin is completely black. Remove from the grill, and let them cool.

After cooled, remove the skin from the tomatoes. Take any stems off of the jalapenos.

Now, there are two ways to go about this. You can toss all of the ingredients into a food processor and puree if you like a nice smooth salsa. Or, you can finely chop all of the ingredients if you want something a little more chunky, like you find in the restaurant.

Either way, when done, mix well, cover, and chill for at least several hours, preferrably overnight. Eat, and enjoy!!

Yield: about 2 cups.

Here's another salsa recipe, one I found in a wonderful Mexican Cuisine cookbook that creates a nice, chunky, very fresh tasting salsa. This is the salsa that I made for Tiptoe Through the Noders: An E2 Meet in Iowa City, IA, that seemed to go over as a big hit, especially the second day after it had some time to sit and let the flavors blend and permeate each other.

Salsa Mexicana

3-4 fresh ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup minced cilantro
4-6 serrano chiles
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons lime juice

In a bowl, mix the onion, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Finely dice the serranos, add, and mix. Dice the tomatoes, add, and mix.

Let the salsa stand at least an hour before serving, and overnight is highly recommended.

Garlic is not in the recipe, but feel free to add it - I myself never even consider not using it, usually adding 4-5 cloves.

Be warned that even 4 serranos makes a somewhat spicy salsa, and 6 makes it quite spicy - especially after it sits overnight, so don't be afraid to start off with less, and add serranos later on to increase the heat until you're happy with it. Or just replace the Serranos with Jalapenos, as the Jalapeno is milder.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups.


See Also: Salsa and Chutney Recipes

The above recipes for salsa, as fine as they are, are all for raw salsas. This is The Real Thing.

Unknown-Shelf-Life Salsa

Thoroughly clean a bunch of tomatillos and an equal amount of Roma tomatoes. Nip out the hard bits but do not core peel slice etc. The exact amount is determined by the size of your pan. I use a 10X2" Revereware pan, and use enough tomatoes and tomatillos that the next step has to be done twice. That's as close as I can get on the amounts, it's an intuitive thing.

Sear the tomatos and tomatillos over high heat. Keep them moving, they will get black sear marks. The trick is to sear the skins without charring them.

Remove tomatoes, add a little vegetable oil, a bunch of chopped fresh cilantro, a little lime juice, one medium-to-large sweet red onion, quartered and sliced, and 3-7 sliced serrano peppers, the little green/yellow/red ones. Slice 'em in rings, include the seeds if you want it a little hotter. Saute medium-hi heat stirring constantly until onions are nicely transparent. Add one good *glurg* of decent tequila, flame off alcohol with a match. If it doesn't flame add another shot. If it still doesn't flame the pan wasn't hot enough, or you are using cheap tequila. Go invest in a bottle of Cuervo Gold. (If you skip this step you don't have my salsa, you've got spicy tomato sauce.)

After the flames are gone add the tomatillos and tomatoes, one at a time, whole. Crush them with your wooden spoon. If you want to slice them first you can, it won't hurt the taste but might alter the texture. Cover and cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for no less than 30 minutes, until the texture is right. Right being your definition, I like it thick but with some of the ingredients still discrete.

Serve hot. If you want any for tomorrow separate it out and refrigerate in a container marked "Last Week's Table Scraps For Compost" or "Mold Experiment, do not disturb". I've never had a batch last long enough to find out if it will go bad in the fridge, and we're mighty picky about our fresh food in these here parts, When in doubt Throw it out and all that jazz.

Yet another salsa recipe.

The advantage to this is recipe is that it's dirt cheap, usually doesn't require a trip to the grocer's for odd ingredients (in my neighborhood, jalapenos ain't easy to find. Strange but true) and doesn't slide all over your plate the way the stuff from a jar does. It's also tasty as hell, but that's a given, right?

It also doesn't require any time in the fridge to set; in fact, it's best when eaten immediately - i've discovered that this stuff, like guacamole, should be as much about performance and color as possible and there's something special about freshly diced tomatoes the a refrigerator just murders. The spiciness is variable depending on how much pepper you put in it, and is a great way to make your dinners look professional with a minimal amount of work.

The key to this is the details. If you look at the other salsa recipes here (of which there are tons) you'll notice a whole bunch of similar ingredients, but it's the specifics that really bring out the flavor - the difference between red and white onions might not seem to matter that much, but believe me, it does.

Quantities of ingredients are a guess at best - if I wanted to measure things out I'd've become a chemist. Or, for that matter, a chemist.

Oh, and also - how many people this feeds depends on how you're using it. It'll plate eight as a garnish but you'll get less milage out of it with chips.

Anyway.

Stuff you'll need (with notes to follow):

Plum tomatoes (not grape tomatoes - I'm talking about the slightly oblong ones that're the legnth of your middle finger, give or take.) have more meat and less juice to them. It's best if they're just slightly under-ripe as well - these tomatoes are not quite as sweet as their cousins and you definitely want to avoid this tasting like a dessert. In the same vein, red onions are tarter than other varieties and fresh lime juice is less sweet than the bottled stuff. I've avoided adding cilantro here because I have a number of friends who think that that particular herb tastes like soap, and now that they've told me that I can't help but pick that aspect of its flavor out of anything it's in (and now neither can you. Sorry.) If you want a more herbal, gardeny flavor, substitute a quarter of the green onion for fresh parsley.

I've also avoided fresh garlic because, raw as this dish is, raw garlic is overpowering as hell. I love the stuff, I really do, but it conquers any other flavors you try to mix it with and we're going shooting for harmony, here.

As far as preparation goes, there's really not that much to it - take all the ingredients, chop them finely and mix them in a nice, big bowl. You ideally want the tomato to stay in rather large chunks and the onion to be chopped as finely as you can make it by hand. It's also a nice touch to grind the pepper over the salsa at the table just before serving, but that's more showmanship than anything else. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And before I forget, a note on the garlic salt - that stuff sticks to anything it touches, so you want to shake it on as you're mixing to keep it as consistently spiced as possible. The rest of it can pretty much be tossed in however you'd like. It's also important to not mix it up too much - the more you mix, the more pulverized the tomatoes are going to get and you'd like them to retain some of their firmness.

Another fancy display of your mexican pride, right?

I'm Andy and I was born in Mexico. I could use this fact to disprove everyone's salsa recipes and label them as "unauthentic ripoffs", except for the fact that a) You don't have anything besides my word to know that I'm actually mexican and b) Some of these recipes look pretty "authentic" in the sense that a salsa is one of those things that can be done in a thousand different ways and all of them can be good.

So, instead of just giving you the easiest salsa recipe ever, I'll delve a little deeper and give you some cultural trinkets about this magnificent food.

¿Verde o roja?

"Salsa" translates directly to "sauce", which as you may know can be a lot of different things. However, in vernacular spanish, "salsa" is an informal shorthand for "salsa picante" (spicy/hot sauce) referring to the spicy chili-based thing that so many people love.

However, there are many spicy substances called "salsa", not just the one you may have in mind. One such thing is a spicy sauce known as Valentina sauce (Salsa Valentina) which is both the brand and the common term for a type of salsa used commonly with fruit and chips (Lays-style) but not with tacos.

But among the several varieties of salsas available, the most common styles are "the green one" and "the red one" (respectively known as Salsa verde and Salsa roja). Of all the common rivalries between mexicans, the preference of Verde over Roja is one of the most prominent and the source of endless arguments (until someone starts eating, that is)

In their most basic forms, these salsas are crushed chilis of the aforementioned colors with a bit of water and salt so that you get a spreadable version of a chile. This is, in a way, an upgrade to the custom of having a chile as a garnish of sorts to be eaten with the main course. In many rural populations this custom still exists and it's the most basic way of adding that hot flavor to one's meal.

I, for one, lean towards the green side of this neverending argument but in honor of my country's culinary traditions, I'll present you a recipe for both green and red salsa.

Other varieties

Mind you, salsa verde and salsa roja are not the only varieties of salsa available and there's more than one way of doing each. Since a very basic salsa is just a chile-based paste, a different kind of chile will yield a different kind of salsa.

My anecdotal experience tells me that people who aren't used to eating spicy food can't taste the chile flavor that salsa imparts to the food because the stinging pain blocks it. I can't really confirm that assertion because I really can't remember what it felt the first times I ate spicy food.

But I can tell you this: not all salsas are created the same and they aren't all equally good for a single purpose. Some salsas taste better with some things. For someone who isn't used to actually tasting salsa this may be a surprise, so let me tell it to you right now: you really should try more salsas.

Other salsa varieties:

  • Pasilla (made with chile pasilla)
  • Morita (made with chile morita)
  • Costeña (made with chile guajillo)
  • Cuaresmeño (made with chile cuaresmeño)
  • Habanero (made with chile habanero)
  • Chipotle
  • Salsa borracha ("drunk" salsa, made with pulque)
  • Salsa endiablada (devil's salsa, three different chiles)
  • Pico de gallo (rooster's beak, not exactly a salsa because it doesn't have the paste-like consistency, but very popular everywhere)

 

The recipes

A small note on mexican idiosyncracies: for some reason people like to argue that a red tomato is called "Jitomate" and a green tomato is called just "Tomate". In many contexts these terms can be used interchangeably because they refer to the "normal" (red) tomato, but when discussing salsa, the difference is crucial most of the time.

Salsa verde

  • 4 raw jalapeño peppers, without the stem
  • 8 raw green tomatoes
  • Salt

In a hot pan or comal without oil, heat up the peppers and tomatoes on a low fire. When the skin starts going brown, turn them around and continue frying them1. The skin will not uniformly get brown, which is OK. When you have 3 or 4 brown spots on everything, get them out of the fire and let them cool a minute or two. Put everything on the blender with some salt2 and blend them until you get a consistent paste3. If it's too dry, add a little bit of water. That's it, you're done.

Bottom line: This recipe can easily be scaled up and down. The rule of thumb is to have twice as many green tomatoes as jalapeños.

Variants: you can add chopped raw onion, garlic, cilantro and/or parsley to the salsa, just don't heat them with the peppers and tomatoes. I've tasted salsas with a bit of sweetness added to it, but I haven't figured out what it was.

Salsa Roja

  • 4 raw jalapeño peppers
  • 4 big (fist sized) tomatoes or 6 - 8 smaller ones
  • Salt

The process is pretty much the same as in the one before. Be careful, though: usually red tomatoes will burn easier than the green ones, so don't be afraid to turn them around before you get a brown spot.

Be careful!

  • If you're handling jalapeños with your bare hands, don't touch your mouth or eyes without washing them first. You don't want to test this one.
  • Don't burn the peppers! Their smoke can be very irritating, You don't want to test this one either.
  • If you want to tone down the hotness of your salsa, try taking out the seeds before reducing the number of peppers. This reduces the overall hotness but preserves most of the flavor

 

Footnotes

1 This process of heating up peppers is commonly known as "torear chiles" (to bullfight the chiles) because it brings out the pepper's flavors and hotness, analogous to bullfighting/annoying a bull

2 I don't actually know how much salt is good. My family taught me this recipe using "puñitos" (small fists) as a measuring unit. One puñito is a small mound of salt, maybe half an inch in diameter put into the hollow of the hand. My guesstimate is about 2 teaspoons, but it's better if you just try adding salt until you hit the sweet spot

3 Traditionally, salsas are not blended, but ground in a molcajete, which is a precolumbian mortar and pestle usually made with basaltic stone. Although it subjectively makes the salsa taste better (because of a years-long process of seasoning) molcajetes are quite heavy and not easily found outside Mexico, not to mention sometimes cumbersome. However, if you have access to a molcajete and have the time to season it and properly grind everything, I highly recommend using it. It has the advantage that flavors blend together more slowly, giving you more time to season your salsa to your liking while you're preparing it and it can last a damn long time.

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