Sunday, February 25, 2018

Salsa Oaxaqueño

So this is a great all purpose, quick salsa that's good with anything from chips to smothering enchiladas. The only thing unique about it, other than it being really amazing, is that the woman who taught me the recipe--a native Oaxacan--said that it's a traditional salsa from the area because it doesn't use lime. Instead, it relies on a hefty dose of charred tomatoes and peppers to produce the acidic bite that limes usually provide. And to be sure, she was right. It's big, fresh, and bright.

One word of note, however, is that you really don't want to try to save 90 seconds by using a food processor. This salsa--like many in mexico--is meant to be ground by hand in a molcajete, though any mortar and pestle will work. However, a food processor or blender totally rips the ingredients to shreds, which imparts some funky flavors. Channel your inner abuela and prepare this the traditional way. Your tastebuds will thank you!

One ingredient note is that here in Oaxaca, the recipe calls for chiles de agua. They're a local heirloom that isn't commercially cultivated outside our little valley. So instead, I recommend a couple Anaheim chilies and a jalapeno as a totally suitable replacement. That said, you should totally use 2-4 fresh chiles de agua if you happen to see them at your local Mexican market.

Prep time: 1/2 mezcal-based cocktail

6 Roma tomatoes
2 Anaheim chilies
1-2 jalepenos
4 cloves garlic, coarsely minced
1/4 cup chopped onion
2-4 sprigs cilantro, leaves plucked off and stems discarded
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to broil or fire up your outdoor grill. Once hot, place tomatoes and peppers on the grill (or the top rack of your oven, with a foil-lined pan underneath to catch drippings) and char everything until well blistered/charred and the skin of the tomatoes falls away, rotating every few minutes so all sides are equally roasted. Don't overthink this, as it's impossible to overcook these, and a long as things are well-blistered, they're not undercooked. It will take your peppers about 10 minutes and your tomatoes about 15, but mileage will vary. Your tomato skins will probably fall off and stick to the rack. Don't worry about it.

Transfer peppers to a paper bag or sealed tupperware and place tomatoes in a bowl to cool. Do something fun for about 15 minutes or until everything has cooled enough to handle.

After you return, in your molcajete or mortar and pestle, first grind your garlic and onion into a paste. Then peel, stem, and seed peppers (doing this under a stream of cold water is easiest). Put your pepper flesh into the onion/garlic mixture and pulverize well. Now peel and quarter each tomato lengthwise and transfer all the tomatoes to the onion/garlic/pepper mixture. Grind until you've reached the desired level of chunkiness for your salsa.

Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in cilantro (don't grind it like you did the other ingredients!) and salt.

1 comment:

  1. My goodness this was awesome!
    Thanks for posting