Fresh Homemade Mexican Salsa: Traditional and Unusual Recipes and Ingredients
Mexican Salsa - Spicy, Sweet or Tangy
The term "salsa" covers a wide variety of tasty meal additions. It literally translates as "sauce," and you can put it on meats and veggies or use it as a dip for your chips. Whatever you do with your salsa, it's sure to spice up your meal. Read on to learn how to create your very own special salsa. Be the culinary star at parties.
What Makes a Good Salsa?
Photo courtesy of Flickr and sonicwalker.
I prefer fresh, uncooked salsa. This is known as salsa fresca or salsa crude. I love that fresh-out-of-the-garden taste. You can also cook or roast your ingredients to get a sweeter, deeper flavor. Puree or not, it's up to you.
You can make a fine salsa out of lots of different foods. Use this guide to develop your own signature salsa:
BASE - Tomatoes or tomatillos are the most common base ingredient for salsa, but you can use lots of different fruits or vegetables. You want a food for the base that contains some moisture. Try melon, mango, papaya, pineapple, peaches, plums, avocados or cucumbers. Think juicy. Ask yourself if the food would puree fairly smoothly (even if you don't plan to puree it).
TEXTURE AND VARIETY - Do you want your salsa to have some crunch or an additional flavor? Add green pepper, corn, radishes, black beans or something else from the base category.
SASS - Onions, garlic and jalapenos are my favorites when it comes to adding a bit of bite to salsa. Of course there are a lot of different kinds of chiles, many much hotter than the jalapeno. I know people who just shake some cayenne powder into the mix, but that's not the right kind of spicy, as far as I'm concerned. Use fresh garlic if you can, powdered if you must, but don't skip the garlic (I've just reconsidered that last comment. I really don't know how well peach or pineapple goes with garlic, but if you are using tomatoes, for goodness sake, use the garlic!).
TANG- Lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, white wine, balsamic vinegar...
HERBS AND SEASONINGS - In my opinion, you can't beat cilantro. Cilantro seems to be one of those flavors that you love or you hate. My mother says it tastes like soap, but I love the stuff and use it in a lot of my cooking in addition to salsa.
Salt is also critical to making the flavors "bloom." Try it sometime without salt and you'll know exactly what I mean.
Other possible seasonings might include cumin, oregano, mint and anything else you might have at hand. Experiment with your herbs. Salsa should be playful, so try new combinations. Sprinkle a bit of herb on your base and see how it tastes.
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Luke Wisley
6 large tomatoes, chopped finely
1 large onion, chopped finely
1-2 jalapenos, seeds and membranes removed, diced
1 15-oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
2-4 cloves garlic, finely diced
juice from one lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and enjoy with tortilla chips or just eat it with a spoon.
Your Salsa Glossary
SALSA ROJA "red sauce" used as a condiment in Mexican and southwestern U.S. cuisine, and usually made with cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro.
SALSA CRUDA "raw sauce", also known as pico de gallo or salsa fresca made with raw tomatoes, lime juice, chiles, onions, cilantro leaves, and other coarsely chopped raw ingredients.
SALSA VERDE "green sauce" made with tomatillos. Sauces made with tomatillos are usually cooked.
SALSA RANCHERA "ranch-style sauce" made with tomatoes, various chiles, and spices. Served warm.
Know Your Chiles
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Rowen Atkinson
You can't have salsa without chiles. In fact, in parts of Mexico, the word salsa describes a sauce made mainly of ground chiles.
The heat in chiles comes from a chemical called capsaicin. The amount of heat in a particular kind of chile is measured in Scoville Units, ranging from 0 Units (no heat) to over 1,000,000 Scoville Units (Are You Crazy?!). Remember, however, that this measurement is an average, and individual chiles will vary a great deal. Pepper spray is about 2,000,000 SU's and pure capsaicin is about 15,000,000 SU's.
You can try to tame the heat in a couple of ways. Most of the capsaicin is in the seeds and the white membrane. Remove these and your chiles will be a little less hot. Roasting the chiles also sometimes will make your chiles more mild.
Because of the capsaicin, you have to be very careful when handling chiles. "Irritating" doesn't really describe what happens when you touch your eye (for me, anywhere on my face) after handling chiles. Just wear gloves, and STILL wash your hands really well after handling those hot mamas.
Here is a short list with descriptions of chiles that you might find at your grocery store.
Anaheim chile - 500 - 2000 Scoville Units. About 6 inches long, mild and thick-walled. Tough skin peels off easily after roasting. Good for chile rellenos. These are often the chiles that you find canned, labeled as green chiles. They have a mild flavor, and can be added to eggs, soups, or casseroles. As with most chiles, roasting deepens and intensifies the flavor.
Banana pepper - Very low Scoville Units. Two to 3 inches long. Sweet and very mild. Tasty in salads, soups, salsas and appetizers.
Poblano Chile - 1000 - 2000 Scoville Units. One of the most popular chile in Mexico. Large, heart-shaped chile. Very mild flavor and thick skin. Good for stuffing. You can roast or char and peel off the tough outer skin. Tasty in mole, breaded and fried, and in sauces.
Yellow Wax Pepper - 2,000 - 5,000 Scoville Units. Moderately hot. Four to 6 inches in length. Looks like a banana pepper but hotter. Good in salads, salsas and pickled.
Mirasol Pepper - 2,500 - 5,000 Scoville Units. Moderately hot with an fruity flavor that goes well with chicken, potatoes and pork.
Jalapeno Pepper - 2,500 - 8,000 Scoville Units. Moderately hot with a rich flavor. Smoked jalapenos are called chipotles. Prized for their quick heat, they can be used as appetizers, in salsas, jellies and in meat sauces.
Serrano Pepper - 5,000 - 23,000 Scoville Units. Very hot. Slender and thin-walled. Excellent in salsas, and good in sauces when roasted.
Cayenne Pepper - 30,000 - 50,000 Scoville Units. Large, wrinkly and slender. Most often ground into powder. One chile equals 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder. Very hot. Use it to add heat to your dish. Also prized for its medicinal uses.
Thai chiles - 80,000 - 100,000 Scoville Units. Small, slender and extremely hot. Used to make curry paste and used whole in Thai and Indian dishes. I don't recommend this for salsa.
Habanero Pepper - 100,000 - 350,000 Scoville Units. Extremely hot with fruity flavor and apricot aroma. Use to make HOT sauces.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper - 100,000 - 325,000 Scoville Units. Small, rounded chile popular in the Caribbean. Gives jerk dishes their characteristic flavor. Extremely hot. Wikipedia article says, "Eaten raw, these peppers are also known to cause dizziness, numbness of hands, lips and cheeks, and severe heartburn."
Read about The World's Hottest Chile
Photos in this section courtesy of The Cooks Thesaurus
Tomatillos are picked and used while firm and green. A yellow fruit is past its prime. Generally tomatillos are cooked, and they impart a tart, almost citrusy taste to foods. They are a vital ingredient in salsa verde and often included in red salsas as well. These little, green globes bring a fresh flavor to soups and stews. Tomatillos are also known as husk tomatos, jamberries, husk cherries, mexican tomatoes, or ground cherries.
Photo courtesy of Flickr and QuintanaRoo
Here are some great recipes that use tomatillos:
The Easiest, Fastest Salsa Recipe in the Whole World
Pretty darned good and really simple.
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
1 15-oz. can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Turn on food processor or blender. Drop in garlic, then cilantro and process til finely chopped. Add lime juice and tomatoes. Pulse a couple of times for chunky salsa or a little longer for smooth salsa. That's it. It will take longer to wash the food processor than it did to make the salsa!
Salsa Bowls for Your Creations
Best Homemade Tortilla Chips for Your Salsa
Make tortilla chips at home - cheap.
1 (12 ounce) package corn or flour tortillas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cut each tortilla into 8 chip sized wedges and arrange the wedges in a single layer on a cookie sheet. In a mister, combine the oil and lime juice. Mix well and spray each tortilla wedge until slightly moist. Combine the cumin, chili powder and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle on the chips. Bake for about 7 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 8 minutes or until the chips are crisp, but not too brown. Serve with salsas, garnishes or guacamole.
Great Books about Salsa
A Salsa Recipe for Any Occasion
- Great Salsa Recipes
How To Create Delicious Salsa Creations.
- Salsa Recipes at Recipezaar
A wide variety of recipes using fruits and vegetables from the Recipezaar collection. Also links to other recipes which call for salsa as an ingredient.
- Fresh Salsa Recipes by John Raven
Salsa Recipes including corn and tomato salsa and green salsa.
- Foodgeeks.com: Salsa Recipes
Salsa Recipes. ... Chipotle-Tomatillo Salsa, Corn Salsa, Cranberry Salsa, Watermelon Salsa.
- Avocado and Tropical-Fruit Salsa Recipe at Epicurious.com
Find delicious avocado recipes, like avocado and tropical-fruit salsa, and other recipes at Epicurious.com.
- Strawberry Salsa Recipe at Sprig.com
Recipe by NYC's KidFresh's Cricket Azima ...
- Salsa, Chutney, Relish - Recipes and Facts
Recipes for Salsa, Chutney, Relish, from around the world.
- Frugal Recipes: The Best Salsa Ever
My wife has perfected a recipe she adapted from the Cook's Illustrated cookbook.
- Simple Salsa Recipe
Quick and easy tomato and green chile salsa recipe, with canned cooked tomatoes, green chiles, scallions, garlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, and cilantro.
- Salsa Recipe Index
Recipes include fresh apricot, mint cucumber, pineapple, summer, and tomato pepper salsa.
- Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa Recipe
A deliciously vibrant, earthy, and slightly smoky-tasting salsa recipe. Different from salsa fresca, the deep, caramelized flavors of the roasted tomatoes ...
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe
- Avocado Salsa Recipe: A spicy and creamy salsa recipe
One of my favorite avocado recipes, this salsa pairs avocado with tomatoes, jalapenos and garlic for a creamy, spicy chip-topper you won't soon forget.
- Asparagus Salsa Recipe from Taste of Home
Find recipes for Asparagus Salsa and other lower in sodium recipes. Get all the best recipes at Taste of Home.
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe
Black Bean and Corn Salsa. Contributed By: pitbully1078 3 ingredient recipes ... put them in a mixiing bowl. Add the corn and salsa and mix well. ...
- Mango-Papaya Salsa
Hippy Gourmet makes Mango-Papaya Salsa!
- Tomatillo Salsa Recipe - Salsa Verde
Tomatillo salsa recipe also known as salsa verde, with tomatillos and chile peppers, along with other ingredients.
- The Elegant Chef's Shrimp Salsa Recipe
This is a salsa recipe with baby shrimp and avocado and chipotle peppers.
- Vegetarian: Tabasco salsa recipe for greek garlic salsa
The Tabasco salsa recipe for greek garlic salsa is made with Tabasco garlic pepper sauce, garlic cloves, red peppers, feta cheese and pepperincini.
You Can Buy Some Great Gourmet Salsa
Kitchen Gear to Help You Make Salsa
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Seetz Jones
What Should I Do with this Newfound Salsa Knowledge? - Make terrific meals
- Mako Shark with Grilled Pineapple Salsa
Recipes from Food Network. ... Add all remaining salsa ingredients, including the lime halves. These will lend the additional lime oils in the rinds to the ...
- Grilled Angel Food Cake with Fruit Salsa Recipes
Combine grilled angel food cake with a succulent fruit salsa for a quick and easy low fat dessert recipe special enough for company.
- Fresh fish with salsa verde
Jan 16, 2008 ... Tired of the same bland, boring meal? Spice things up with chef Daisy Martinez's recipes for mariscada en salsa verde and sofrito.
- Cedar-Wrapped Shrimp with Asian Tomato Salsa
To prepare salsa, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. For shrimp, preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat. ...
- Grilled Snapper with Mango Salsa - Recipe
- Grilled Lamb with Salsa Verde
Recipes from Food Network. ... Set the salsa verde aside. Place the lamb in a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking ... Serve the remaining salsa verde alongside. ...
- Grilled Lamb with Salsa Verde
Recipes from Food Network.
- Seared Tuna with Avocado and Salsa Verde
From Food and Wine magazine.
- Lettuce Soup With Radish Salsa
Try this light refresher before dinner.
- Seared Salmon with Artichoke Salsa
Here is a delicious recipe for Seared Salmon with Artichoke Salsa.
- Almond Crusted Salmon with Pineapple Salsa
- Grilled Portabella Mushrooms With Tomato-Basil Salsa
Food. Dieting Resources Â· Healthy Recipes.
SquiDirectory - A categorized Squidoo directory featuring an interesting variety of different subjects ranging from arts and literature, shopping, and eco friendly tips, to vehicles for sale, travel, and everything in between.