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Salsa Mexicana Recipe

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by Raphael A Nazario (subscribe)
—R. A. Nazario Wine & Food blog: www.vinoveracity.com; website: www.rafnazario.com
Published August 28th 2012
Sydney is now awash in Mexican and pseudo-Mexican eateries. This series of articles and reviews will aim to shed some light on a few details, such as what really is Mexican and what isn't. We'll start with a few simple recipes.

This weekend why not make "Salsa Mexicana", so named because the main ingredients contain the colours of the Mexican flag, Red, White and Green. (Analogous perhaps to Pizza Margherita, which contains the colours of the Italian flag.)

However, this salsa, also is known as "Pico de Gallo" ("Beak of the Rooster"—for it is supposed to have just enough bite). Regardless what you call it, it is served in most Mexican restaurants everywhere. Why is it so popular? If one thinks about it, there really isn't much in it; a few tomatoes, a little onion, a smattering of green herb, the ever-important Jalapeño…yet there is an allure that defies comprehension; one simply keeps coming back for more.

A couple of simple guidelines will help make the difference between a coarse tasting salsa and one with more finesse. (as in this photo, notice how large the onions are compared to the tomato)
Pico 1
Pico with Chunky Bermuda Onions


So chop the onions small and even—no big chunks that once eaten can leave your breath scaring vamps away. The tomatoes should be ripe inside and out (keep in mind, tomatoes are often gassed to make them turn red.) One way to make sure a tomato is properly ripened is by looking at the base (it shouldn't be yellowish); or by holding it—ripe tomatoes are not only softer, they feel "heavier".

By the same token the Coriander shouldn't be too leafy, as in this image, which looks like the "jungle" version of the salsa…



You can add more Jalapeño or use less. If your palate doesn't like Coriander, well ok, not very Mexican of you, but go ahead and skip it.

The finished salsa should look similar to this image—with a bit more onion and coriander.

Pico 3


Fact is, variations of this salsa abound. Look out the next recipe, a version of this with black-bean and corn…People taste it and ask what's in it. I tell them it's Rocket Science.

INGREDIENTS AND METHOD:

Ingredients
2 cups Fresh tomatoes —diced evenly
1/2 cup White onions —diced fine (Bermuda or Shallots, ok)
2 Jalapeño or Birds' Eye chillies finely minced
(if less heat is desired, cut lengthwise, seed,
1/4 cup Fresh Coriander leaves or to taste; chopped not too coarse nor too fine
1-2 Tb Fresh lime juice

Coarse grain "cooking" salt or flaked salt


Method.
Dice the tomatoes. If you are planning on serving the salsa later, place the diced tomatoes in a colander. Allow to drain and keep them draining until ready to serve. Then combine with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with salt and all the Jalapeño chilli your heart perspires. Jalapeño is usually available at Woolies (not to plug those guys) but may be substituted with fresh Bird's Eye chillies and the amount adjusted for a livelier or more comfortable heat content.

Lastly, if you want to make your own corn chips, you can order fresh tortillas (pre-cut and ready for frying) made here, in Sydney from www.fireworksfoods.com.au. Unlike the aforementioned giant corp. these guys are a mom & pop outfit. She's from Mexico City. The rest of the story is, well, an Enchilada.
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