One thing you need to know about Cameron is he is my brother-in-arms when it comes to enjoying hot-n-spicy food. And salsa is just one of the favorite foods we share. I make salsa fresh at home, never buy it at the store. Cameron will often help me whip up a batch and is always sneaking in an extra jalapeno or two when my back is turned. What a good kid!
Yesterday I mentioned salsa in my post and in a reply from River, well this is what she said, "I never make salsa. It doesn't mean much for local cuisine but I think I should. You're giving me nice ideas there :) "
River my friend, why YES I do. I'll come right to the point, here is the recipe and my take on why I make it this way and what you can do to vary it if desired; enjoy...
Salsa - Mild
This is for a single batch which is enough for the typical family gathering, bbq, picnic, etc. of a dozen or so people. I usually make two batches, or three - have made as many as six batches at once, to have plenty of left-overs for myself and to send some home with the family or friends who always ask for a care package of this amazing concoction.
How do I use salsa? One of my favorite uses for salsa is a replacement to salad dressing, or as a replacement to relish on a burger or hot dog. I also use it in omelets, in place of veggies in fried rice recipes, and of course with tortilla chips or on nachos. How do YOU use salsa?
Enough blabbering from me, let's make some salsa shall we?...
- 4 large tomatoes (or 6 medium)
- 1 small onion, white or yellow
- 1 green bell pepper, size as desired
- 2 cloves garlic, size as desired
- 1 bulb of fresh ginger, enough for a Tablespoon when minced
- 3 sprigs of fresh cilantro (or 1 Tablespoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- juice of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lime
- For Medium heat, 2-4 jalapenos or 1 habanero pepper.
- For HOT heat, 5-8 jalapeno or 3 habanero peppers.
Utensils / Tools...
- Sharp kitchen knife for dicing & mincing
- Cutting board
- Strainer with small holes for draining diced tomatoes
- Large mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon
- Food processor / chopper (optional~can dice & mince it all by hand knife too)
- Juicer, if desired for lemon & lime (optional~can squeeze by hand too)
- Storage container(s) for finished product
- Read 'Lessons Learned' below before starting preparation, you'll be glad you did.
- Place strainer in bottom of clean sink or a in a 2nd large bowl.
- Dice tomatoes and placed them in strainer to drain while you proceed with other ingredients.
- Juice the lemon & lime thoroughly, add to mixing bowl (not the bowl tomatoes are straining in if using a 2nd bowl).
- Dice green bell pepper, add to mixing bowl.
- Mince garlic, ginger & cilantro, add to mixing bowl.
- Add seasoned salt & the strained tomatoes to mixing bowl.
- If making Medium or HOT heat salsa, dice jalapenos or habanero peppers, do not remove seeds or veins as this is where the heat resides, add to mixing bowl.
- Now mix all of that together real good.
- Now taste; good huh? See notes below for adjusting flavor.
- Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Give the salsa some privacy so that all the ingredients can make love & get in the mood for you.
Tomatoes, I do not like watery salsa so I strain the tomatoes after dicing to drain them of excess water. I also use a food processor for all dicing which also helps to separate more water from the tomatoes. When straining I shake & toss the strainer a bit to help gravity along and remove more water. Of course this is your salsa, make it watery if you insist.
Dicing, I dice to small size bits of approximately 1/4" squares. I find if I go smaller then the salsa ends up more like a cold soup or rough puree. As I use a processor I get great variety in sizes of diced ingredients which add texture & visual character to the finished masterpiece. Of course this is your salsa, cut anything any size you deem necessary to get your mouth watering.
Onion, I love onion flavor but not when it over powers a recipe so I go for a small onion. Test your onion's strength, cut into it and sniff &/or cut a small piece off & taste. If it come off as strong then I consider using less of the onion. Of course this is your salsa, if you are addicted to onions add as many pungent & tear-filled beauties as you & those around you can handle.
Green peppers, I like green because it adds an offsetting color to the dominant red color from all of the tomatoes. This is also why I use white or yellow onions & not red. Of course this is your salsa, so use any colors you like.
Hot peppers, why do I use jalapeno or habanero peppers? Because they are the easiest to pick up at the local grocery store. But do not limit yourself to these. There are dozens of other highly tasty and heaty (is that a word?) peppers out there to play with. One of my faves to substitute with is the Serrano pepper. It's heat level is between that of the jalapeno & habanero but it's flavor is unique and you can get them in so many colors e.g. green, red, brown, orange, or yellow. Of course this is your salsa, so use the pepper that gets your eyes watering but doesn't have you grabbing for a chug of milk to douse the heat. Don't douse please, not pretty.
Vinegar, where is it? I don't use it. But many many many salsa recipes call for it. I like vinegar allot but not in my salsa, I find the flavor conflicts with the citrus. My main reason for omitting it is that if you mess up and use too much it is too easy to ruin a batch and way hard to correct. When I mess up a batch and have to toss it out, I cry. And I don't like to cry, so no vinegar for me. Of course this is your salsa, so kick up the vinegar volume as loud as you please.
Adjusting flavor... Does it need more salt, onion, anything? Then add more. Is it too watery? Then add more ingredients like well strained tomatoes, pepper & onion. But do not remove any 'water' from the mixture at this point; if you do then you are removing lemon & lime juice too & that is a no-no. Of course this is your salsa, do whatever you want and eat some already.
Refrigerating, I highly suggest it. Sure, you can make it and eat it right away. I have done so and it is awesome. But, refrigerate it for 12 - 24 hours and you have kicked 'Awesome' salsa in to 'OMG This is Beyond Awesome' salsa. Of course this is your salsa, eat it however your stomach craves it.
And there you have it, ENJOY!
Responsibility 199 - Gotta Do It!!