Lupe’s school recently hosted its first multi-cultural night to huge, standing room only crowds, and in honor of both our Mexican and Vietnamese heritage, we brought several dishes. So over the next several days, you’ll be seeing a bounty of recipes.
First up: salsa. If it weren’t for the fact that salsa makes such a pretty topping for fried tortilla chips, I know that Nacho Man would have no problem eating this stuff on a daily basis. The human body is largely water. Nacho Man’s body is at least twenty percent salsa at any given time, usually more.
There are a million different types of salsas out there, and when we lived in Tucson, I think we ate most of them–chopped, blended, cottage cheesy, to name a few. Here’s a good basic recipe for chopped salsa, also known as Pico de Gallo. No super-exotic ingredients like chipotle peppers. Just chop, stir, and scoop. Good salsa isn’t so much about steadfast measurements as it is about proportions. Start with the tomatoes and everything else will fall into place. Have faith in my stepdad’s method: T-LAR.
Have I mentioned that he helps build airplanes?
This is also an excellent cop-out for people who post recipes without bothering to take hard and fast measurements. But I would never do that.
Slice the tomatoes. Place them on paper towels or sprinkle with salt and leave be so the juices can drain. If you salt them now, take it easy on the salt later. When they’ve dried out a bit, dice them up.
Mince the garlic as finely as you can without losing a nail, and add to the bowl.
Next up: jalapeno. (Pronounced “hall+soft ‘a’+pen+yo”. Not “hall+a+pee+no” –sounds like something you say to a toddler who’s learning to use the potty and doesn’t make it there in time.) Remove the stem and slice the jalapeno vertically. The next step is up to you: if you want meek salsa, scoop out the seeds. If you want to make your chest heave like the Incredible Hulk, leave as many seeds as you think wise. I used 1 1/2 large jalapenos, and scooped the seeds out of half of that.
Nacho Man would have liked more jalapeno, thank you very much.
Cut into matchsticks, and dice.
Chop a handful of cilantro, add the juice of one lime, and sprinkle with salt if you didn’t salt your tomatoes to draw out the liquid. Stir and examine. Can you see a bit of everything in the spoon, or, better yet, on the end of a tortilla chip? Adjust the seasonings, but don’t overdo it. If Nacho Man isn’t hovering, I put this in the fridge for a couple of hours and let the flavors come together.
If Nacho Man is hovering, then frankly, he doesn’t much care about the nuances in the flavor. He wants it spicy and he wants it now.
Pico de Gallo (feeds a small party or one Nacho Man)
4 large tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
quarter of one large onion
2 cloves of garlic
handful of cilantro
1. Slice the tomatoes. Use paper towels or salt to drain excess liquid. Dice.
2. Dice onion and garlic.
3. Remove stems from jalapenos. Slice vertically and remove seeds if you prefer milder salsa. Mince.
4. Chop cilantro.
5. Mix ingredients from Steps 1-4 in a bowl. Add lime juice and stir well.
6. Taste, and season with salt. Adjust flavors if needed. If possible, refrigerate for a couple of hours, then check flavors again.
Prefer something that entails less chopping?
Into the blender: 2 jalapenos with seeds (because Nacho Man dared me to make it hotter), 1/4 of a large onion, chopped, 2-3 cloves garlic, a healthy handful of cilantro, the juice of one lime, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, drained.
Blend it up, put it in a ziploc bag or bowl, and refrigerate for as long as you can stand to wait. Adjust seasonings of needed. When you’re tired of eating it on chips, try serving it over Chipotle Chicken Soft Tacos.
2 cans diced, stewed tomatoes, drained
2 jalapenos with seeds (scrape them out if you prefer a milder salsa)
1/4 of a large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of one lime
1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until it comes together. Refrigerate for an hour or more. Adjust seasonings of needed.