The Best Ever Mexican Homemade Salsa

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If you are craving some tasty and hot salsa but you're tired of getting it from the store, you may want to try making it from scratch. There are thousands of salsa recipes out there and many claim to be the best. The recipe we'll be discussing as the possible salsa champion is one from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen (1996) called Essential Chopped Tomato-Serrano Salsa (Salsa Mexicana Classica).

What Do You Need?

  • You will need to get approximately 12 ounces of ripe tomatoes, either 2 medium-small round ones or 4 or 5 plum ones. Purchase a dozen or so large sprigs of cilantro, 1 small (4 ounce) white onion, 1 large garlic clove (that has been peeled and finely chopped), ¾ of a teaspoon of salt, 1 ½ teaspoons of fresh lime juice. Not to be forgotten, of course, is the ingredient that brings the real heat--three to five stemmed fresh Serrano chilies. Bayless says that you should get everything as fresh as possible "from warm, just picked tomatoes to green-tops-on white onions." He also suggests that you use a sharp knife to prevent bruising. You will also need a bowl to mix the ingredients in, a strainer to rinse the onions, and gloves if the spiciness (picante) of the chilies may irritate your skin. The recipe makes about two cups of salsa.

How to Make It

  • First you core the tomatoes, cut them in half widthwise, and then you can choose whether or not to squeeze out the seeds. Dice the flesh of the tomatoes and cut them into pieces of ¼ each thickness before cutting them into a smaller dice and scooping them into a bowl. Put on your gloves and cut the chilies in half lengthwise and scrape out as many or as few seeds as you wish. The more seeds inside the more intensely spicy the salsa will be. Chop of the chilies as finely as possible and add them to the tomatoes. Chop the cilantro sprigs into 1/16-inch thick pieces, working from the leafy end to the stems, mince the garlic, and add it all to the salsa. Dice the onions, rinse them in the small strainer, and rinse them under cold water. Get rid of the excess water with a few shakes and add it to the mixture. Season the mixture to taste with the lime juice and salt. Let the flavors mix together for at least a few minutes before serving or chilling.

What to Do with It

  • Obviously you can serve it as a traditional salsa with tortilla chips, but there are several other ways to use this candidate for "The Best Ever Mexican Homemade Salsa." By adding two extra garlic cloves, Serranos, a bit of grated lime zest, and two to three tablespoons of Worcester sauce you can marinate around 1 ¼ pounds of trimmer skirt steak to be grilled and then garnished with a liberal amount of the original salsa. You can use the salsa as a sauce for a simple dish of pasta by mixing it in while the pasta is still piping hot to be topped with Parmesan cheese and chopped cilantro. Bayless suggests you leave out the lime when using it in this way. An inventive suggestion is to add the salsa instead of typical mayonnaise-based dressing for a potato salad. Drizzle some olive oil and vinegar while the potatoes are hot out of the boil and then when cool stir in a cup of salsa and more cilantro to taste.

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