Salsa with Fire-Roasted Chiles and Tomatoes
The family's having a little family Mother's Day Eve poker game tonight, and my wife and I volunteered to bring the appetizers. She's making some enchilada dip that's really, really killer, so I decided to make a bowl of salsa to go along with it.
This is an easy, easy recipe that anyone out there can make. There are absolutely no advanced techniques required, and the margin of error is so huge that you almost have to try to fuck this up.
- Five tomatoes- These aren't as ripe as I'd like, but they taste pretty much ok, so we'll go with it.
- One big pasilla chile- These are big, thick, and good for stuffing. You can make chile rellenos with these. They are not at all spicy but have a really nice mild flavor.
- Two jalapeno chiles- Medium-spicy, but phenomenal tasting.
- Two serrano chiles- About 5 times hotter than a jalapeno.
- A lime- Actually we just need the juice.
- Cilantro- I love cilantro. Some people think it's a little strong, but I use it like most people use lettuce on their tacos.
- Garlic- Last time I made this, I used too much and ended up totally overwhelming the salsa with garlic flavor. I think I'll just go with one clove this time.
- Red bell pepper- Not spicy at all, very sweet and delicious.
- Scallions- I don't dig on raw onions, so we're going to roast these up a little and put them in.
- That's all for the ingredients. Not too bad, eh?
Okay, now the fun part: The roasting. Roasting brings out all kinds of good sweetness in the peppers, and gets rid of the "grassiness" that raw jalapenos and pasillas have. We're roasting the tomatoes for the same reason-- to get some flavor developed, and to get some good charred smokey bits in our salsa.
Put the peppers on an open flame. You could also do this on a barbeque, grill, electric stove-- anything that gets smokin hot. I chose to go with direct flame, but other methods are just fine.
Now they're cooking up a little. The skin will blister, pop, and blacken. This one's coming along nicely.
Okay, we're almost done now. Notice that the jalapeno is nice and charred.
Now, chuck it all into a bowl and cover it with a towel to let it cool down, and to cook them a little more. The steam will keep them moist so that skin slides right off once they're cool enough to handle.
It's the tomatoes' turn now.
Looking good. The skin will blacken and shrink, which means it's going to pull of the meat. Careful, they're pretty squishy right now.
And into the bowl. Cover it again.
And last, the green onions. These don't take but a few seconds.
Don't just stand there while those are cooling, you lazy bastard. Chop something. This is the red bell.
Once the chiles are cool enough to handle, take them over to the sink and hold them under the faucet (cold water). Rub them a little bit and the skin should slip right off. Don't try too hard, you want some of the charred bits to stay on there, that's the good shit. It'll look something like this when you're done:
Slice it open, take out the seeds and the white membrane, and dice it up. Repeat with the jalapeno, chuck it into your bowl. The heat in chiles is in the seeds and membrane. I seeded and veined the jalapenos, since we're going to get plenty of heat from the serranos. I seeded the and veined the pasilla because those bits don't taste very good. The jalapeno is the lighter green on top.
Dice your tomatoes up, but scoop all the goo out of them. We don't want watery salsa, we want chunky goodness. For comparison, that's a roasted tomato on the right, unroasted on the left. I have five, but only roasted two because I don't want everything to taste like char, I still want some nice freshness in there.
Next is the serranos. These little fuckers are hot. In fact, I'm still going to seed one of them because a couple of my little brotheres are pussies. Dice 'em up and throw 'em in. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES, NUTS, OR ANYTHING ELSE UNTIL YOU WASH YOUR HANDS WELL.
Keep chopping. Amounts are entirely up to you. Now that everything's all diced up and in the bowl, you should have something that looks like this. Those are the serranos up top, the cilantro on the left, garlic and scallions in the middle:
Now for seasoning. The lime was really juicy, so I only used half of it. I may add more later. From top to bottom, we have here coriander, chile powder, salt, paprika, cumin, and some black pepper on the right there. I also added some dried oregano, but that's not in the picture. Also, drizzle a healthy amount of good extra virgin olive oil in there. It'll keep everything from drying out, and give it a really nice texture.
Fucking finally I can eat-- um, that is, "sample."
Whatever you think it tastes like, don't re-season yet! Give everything a few hours in the fridge to chill out and get to know each other. Then taste, then reseason if necessary. I have a hunch I'll be adding the other half of the lime juice, some more olive oil, and a bunch more salt, but I'm not going to do it for at least another hour. It looks a little dry right now, but I'm guessing that some more moisture will get squeezed out of the tomatoes and I don't want to overcompensate this early in the game.
Once you get into the habit of making your own salsa, you'll be amazed by how disgustingly salty commercial versions are, and how un-fresh they taste.
Cook your own food, it's the only way to fly!