Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pico de Gallo - Salsa Fresca

I love to watch cooking shows on TV. I especially love the one where they travel around the country and show different restaurants and chefs cooking regional cuisine and their own home cooking. 

I recently watched one where they went to Mexico and the chef made a fresh salsa. He had a very interesting technique and I was very interested to try it. So I picked up some ingredients to recreate what he made at home. 

Pico de Gallo, or Salsa Fresca is a little bit different that what most of us think of as "salsa".  Although I really love cooked salsa (and I eat a lot of it), I really love it when summer rolls around and the tomatoes get red and ripe and are at the peak of their flavor - that screams to me that it is time to make salsa!!

I used two different kinds of onions in this recipe. My husband Really likes onions and the onions were part of this technique that I wanted to try - so why not go all in. 

I chopped the purple and green onions and mixed them up in a bowl. I didn't make them tiny, but left them in kind of a rough chop. I think that for this recipe that each ingredient does well when it can stand on its own. 

To the onions, I added juice of two full limes. And then I let the onions sit in the lime juice without anything else added for about 5 minutes to let the juice of the limes "cook" the onions. This reminds me of a ceviche where the citrus juices are used to cure the fish. 

I chopped up about 8 roma tomatoes. I prefer to use roma tomatoes instead of slicing tomatoes in this recipe because they are "meatier" and contain less juice. I think it makes the salsa hold together better and be less juicy or saucy. 

I added one bunch of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped. And two jalapenos with the seeds removed. I always try and wear gloves when I chopping jalapenos.  They are very hot and the oil that makes them that way is in all parts of the pepper. So touching the pepper and then touching your eyes or nose (or even lips) can cause of lot of pain. (And yet we eat them like crazy because they are soooo delicious!) 

I seasoned the Salsa Fresca with some salt and pepper and some fresh minced garlic. I just use the garlic from the squeeze tube because I like the convenience. But you can chop your own - just be sure to do it finely.

And I like to put the salt and pepper right onto the tomatoes. I think they benefit the very most from being directly seasoned instead of adding the salt and pepper to the entire dish.  When my brother makes this salsa, he chops the tomatoes and then salts and peppers then right on the cutting board before adding them to the bowl. Then he hardly seasons the finished dish at all. (There is no denying summer vine ripe tomatoes with salt is very very good!)

Add this to grilled chicken or fish, or eat it like we do - Plain with tortilla chips. Although it is almost always associated with Mexican food, Pico de Gallo is great with absolutely everything. The fresh summer flavors go well with just about anything you can put in your mouth.