This is the fourth post in a series on salsas.
Salsa isn’t just for corn chips any more. This was my sudden mind-blowing, earth-shattering realization. It came way back during my college days after a working interview at one very famous Southwestern restaurant. They fed me dinner—a grilled tenderloin steak smothered in a smokey salsa—in exchange for my night’s work. I had only ever eaten steak plain, and my life would never be the same. I got the job. But more importantly, I opened my eyes to the possibilities of salsa.
Salsas, whether they’re made from chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, or fruit, are an integral part of Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. They vary from mild to medium to spicy, and they can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold. Salsas can function as either dip or sauce (in fact, salsa is Spanish for sauce), and they are the perfect accompaniment to everything from eggs to tacos to rice and beans. They can transform a simple grilled steak, pork chop, chicken breast, fish fillet, or even veggie into a spectacular meal. It’s no wonder that salsa has overtaken ketchup as the most popular condiment in the U.S.
But while I’m singing the praises of salsa, I want to make clear that I mean homemade, from-scratch salsa. Homemade salsa is vibrant and fresh and delicious and healthy, and it can perk up anything you put it on. (In comparison, the store-bought stuff is appallingly expensive and completely tasteless.) And if there’s a batch in the fridge, it’s sure to inspire many amazing meals.
1 ¼ pounds tomatillos
3 to 4 Serrano chiles
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of 1 lime
Combine the tomatillos and Serranos in a medium pot and add enough water to cover by several inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the tomatillos are soft. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos and Serranos to a plate. Let rest for about 15 minutes, or until just cool enough to handle, and then stem the Serranos.
Combine the tomatillos, Serranos, onion, cilantro, cumin, and lime juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
Makes 1 generous quart. Heat level: medium/hot. If you like it hotter, use more Serranos. This salsa is delicious with pork, chicken, and seafood, and it’s especially good as a sauce for chicken and cheese enchiladas. Keeps for several days tightly sealed in the refrigerator and freezes well. Serve warm or at room temperature.
More salsa recipes are available here.
Now, if you’re going to have great homemade salsa, you probably want some of this Guacamole to go with it.