Sunday, August 30, 2009

SALSA SUNDAY: The basics

Salsa cruda, meaning "raw sauce," is the most basic and one of the most easily prepared salsas. No cooking is required, just lots of dicing. The key to this and all salsas is use of fresh ingredients. Don't be duped by recipes that call for canned tomatoes or tomato products of any kind or other canned products. Use fresh.

For salsa cruda, dice four medium ripe red tomatoes, three or four scallions (whites and greens) or one medium white or yellow onion, one or two cloves of garlic (depending on your desire for stronger garlic flavor), a handful of cilantro and, most important, one or two good-sized jalapeños. The number of jalapeños used depends on how hot you want the salsa to be. Jalapeños should be stemmed, sliced in half lengthwise, then quartered lengthwise. Remove seeds and spines before dicing.

(Use caution not to touch the eyes or other parts of the face until thoroughly washing your hands after handling jalapeños.)

Combine diced ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add a dash of white vinegar, the juice of one lime, a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let set for an hour before serving. It may be refrigerated. Letting it set allows the flavors to combine like a marinade.

Serve with tortilla chips (making your own is easier and healthier than buying them), tacos, fish, meat, eggs and any number of other main dishes.

When storing in the refrigerator, it is best to cover tightly in a glass bowl. The strong odor can permeate other foods in the refrigerator. Salsa in plastic containers can seep in and leave a permanent odor.

(Next week: avocado salsa)

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