How To Make Salsa

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I know what you're thinking.... I already know how to make salsa: Go to the fridge and grab a jar of Pace picante or whatever is sitting in there.
Well, you don't really know salsa until you taste it fresh and homemade. I am lucky enough to be friends with Erika. Erika is of Spanish/Mexican descent so, as you can imagine, she's a fabulous cook. Once I tasted her homemade salsa I was hooked. Even more hooked when I heard just how easy it really is to make. Now, to my husband's utter delight, I make two kinds of salsa about every 2 weeks.
It's so easy once you know the general method. I would not ever refer to this as a recipe because it's not. You modify the ingredients totally to your own tastes and preferences. Gather your ingredients: cilantro, about 10-12 tomatillos, 3 -4 jalapenos, one onion, and a handful of chiles (I use chiles de arbol quite a bit, but anything similar will do) All of these you should be able to find in your produce section (or the Hispanic food section) of your grocery store. Remove the papery skin from the tomatillos, and wash everything well. Then put the tomatillos, onion (quartered), and jalapenos into a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Once it boils, cover it and remove it from heat for at least 20 minutes to let it steep While those steep, break off the stem of the chiles and pour out the seeds inside. Then place the chiles in a dry hot pan and toast them for a couple minutes - watch they don't burn. After your veggies have steeped 20 minutes (I sometimes just let them sit for a couple hours until I'm ready). You'll want to core the tomatillos and  seed the jalapeños.
Green Salsa: Take half the tomatillos and place them in the blender. Put in a few jalapenos, a quarter of the onion; grab a handful of the cilantro leaves and toss that in as well. Salt it and add some garlic powder. Blend it up. Now, grab a chip and taste it. Does it need more kick? If so, add some more jalapeno. Do you want more onion flavor? Add some onion. Want it saltier? Add salt. Want it more liquid? Add some of the steeping water. Once it's to your liking,  put it in a jar and let it finish cooling. That's the beauty of making your own salsa - make it as hot or mild as you want. Cater it to your tastes. Red Salsa: Rinse out the blender with water, put the rest of the cored tomatillos into the blender, add onion, salt, garlic powder, add a few chiles. Blend it up. Same thing - add what you need. Add more chiles for more kick, add more water to tone it down. The real beauty of this recipe is that it's really not a recipe at all. It's a technique. Modify it as you want - make it your own. Instead of using tomatillos, grill up some tomatoes on the grill to make some "fire roasted salsa." Or try sauteing the the chiles with garlic in some olive oil. Want to simplify it? Use canned diced tomatoes. Possibilities are endless. So tell me, are you going to sit around all summer eating salsa from a jar? I hope not. A little salsa, some chips and you have a summer party ready to start.

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