Friday, January 18, 2008

Salsa- A journey to hot and back

Salsa has always been somewhat of a tradition with my family.

I remember eating dinner at a friend’s house when I was six; we were having tacos. They passed around a bottle of salsa and I happily applied it to my meal without a second thought. At the time my dad was a professional chef, and he did not think bottled salsa was the way for me to experience the best thing since ketchup. After all, we lived in Arizona where tortillas are made from scratch and a whole aisle of the supermarket is devoted to them. So he happily went about creating his own simple salsa. In Arizona salsa is much more common than ketchup, and why not? It has a deeper flavor and a greater versatility. Creating a homemade recipe allows for fresh flavors, and it's cheaper than buying a bottle. Contrary to what they put in the store brands to make salsa last, the fresh stuff will last up to a month (or longer in some cases) because it contains salt and no fat.

The recipe my dad developed needed very little in terms of enhancement. I have tinkered with the recipe over the years, and for a while I followed certain trends. I tried cucumber in my salsa (something found in Sonora salsas), applied chili powder (which I will never, ever add again to my salsa), and varied other ingredients. But I always came back to the original version. This salsa can be prepared in many different ways; it just depends on your taste preference and tolerance to heat. I prefer mine chunky, almost like pico de gallo, but my girlfriend prefers hers smooth from a blender.

Salsa (Base)

3 Green Onions
1-2 T Fresh Cilantro
4oz Canned Diced Green Chiles
15oz Canned Diced Tomatoes, preferably the ones with green chiles or jalapeños
3/4 t Ground Cumin
1/4 t Ground Cayenne Pepper
Salt, Pepper

That’s it, that’s the base of this salsa. Simple, yet splendid. Now comes the best part about this recipe, the ability to modify it any way you want.

Chunky- Dice onions and cilantro. Add to a bowl with tomatoes and chiles, stir, then season to taste with salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne

Smooth- Roughly chop onions and cilantro, add to blender with other ingredients. Pulse until desired consistency (be careful, you are not making baby food here). If you want it extra smooth, add a small can of tomato sauce, but be aware you will need to adjust the seasonings.

In the Middle- Follow chunky directions and add one small can of tomato sauce.

Like it Hot? - Substitute one can diced jalapeños for the green chiles or add one fresh diced jalapeño.

Some last notes. Do not season by measuring, season to what you like. I like cumin, and I love cayenne, so I go over. Also, do not leave the cilantro out of this recipe. You will make hot chunky tomato sauce without it. Last, the salsa does well to sit in the refrigerator for about an hour before being eaten. This is not a necessity, but it does help.

This salsa is great on eggs, Mexican dishes, and in guacamole (more on that later). Also, try it on burgers, you may never reach for a bottle of the red stuff again.

EDIT: Changed a few passages and hopefully painted a better picture.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP