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En una Cocina Mexicana  - In a Mexican Kitchen
Mexican Salsas
: Authentic Mexican Salsa



by Wayne Lundberg

Exploding the myth that Mexican food must be hot! (But not having salsa is just as bad)

If the heart of Mexican food is the tortilla, the blood is in the salsas. Almost every Mexican meal will have the salsas either on the table to be spooned, used as dip, or cooked into the dishes. Very few recipes for ‘authentic’ Mexican food contain chile. The heat is there, but in self-serve containers. Visualize in your mind’s eye a bowl of red, white and green finely chopped chile, onion, red tomato and cilantro. See yourself dipping a deep-fried tortilla chip into the sauce and scooping up just enough to give you that very special flavor that you can only get from a Mexican salsa.


For variety, see a bowl with exactly the same ingredients but this time with tomatillo. Tomatillo is often mistaken as a green tomato, but is in fact a unique kind of tomato with a very distinctive flavor. You want more variety? Instead of putting a green Serrano chile into the salsa, put a super hot Habanero finely diced and maybe ‘de-heated’ by having ‘simmered’ overnight in vinegar.

More variety, another salsa, with little effort? Take a ripe avocado, slice it in half, scoop out the meat and mix in with the salsa. Put the seed into the salsa to make an eye pleasing thing of beauty while the seed helps prolong the freshness for at least as long as the salsa will remain on the table. Not very long when people are around!

Some people like to add garlic. Finely chopped and only a clove to a cup because raw garlic is often as hot as a good green chile and has a very distinctive flavor and smell. You don’t want to have that first kiss with your future bride!

In keeping with the theme of this series of articles on Mexican Food, it is important to dispel many popular beliefs that have come into being through the advocates of ‘It must be hot to be Mexican’ mind set. Our challenge is to help you gain insight into the culture of Mexican food, as well as the recipes of individual dishes.  To assist us we have the cookbook compiled by my mother Virginia.  She conquered incredible challenges being a blond, white female married to a very macho Mexican. After twenty some odd years she returned home with only one really important treasure - a cook book. A compilation of all she had learned from maids, rancher's wife's, friends and enemies as she fought to please her very macho husband and his friends.  This lesson on how to make Mexican salsa will simplify the art of Mexican salsas, so that you can make the tastiest, most authentic salsa.

From "Mexican Cooking" by Virginia Savage © 1968

Standard or Basic Tomato Sauce (Salsa)

Ripe fresh tomatoes
Chopped onions
Serrano, or Jalapeno, or Habanero, or other chile based on availability, season, quality and cost.

Toast tomatoes over open flame and cover with light towel for a few minutes, then peel off the skin. Chop into small pieces and mash up as much as possible with fork. (Some people like to use a blender or other mechanical device but you lose ‘authenticity’) Add finely chopped onions (not from blender!), chopped cilantro and as much chile as your guests will tolerate.

Green sauce (salsa)

Same as red, only using tomatillos.


To either of the above, add your ration of ripe avocado spooned from the half-shell along with the seed(s).

Either sauce can be used for enchiladas, using the frying process and adding stock from pork, chicken, turkey or bullion cubes of chicken (never use beef as it does not enhance the flavor). In addition, one or two cloves of garlic, chopped and fried with sauce.

To cook salsa for use in fried rice, enchiladas, chilaquiles and a hundred other favorites-

Prepare ingredients finely chopped or blended. Using a heavy skillet, preheat to medium. Heat in skillet cooking oil, and add tomatoes, onion, chile and cilantro. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly to avoid sticking and burning. Continue fry until almost dry. Add stock to achieve the desired amount and thickness.

Note: If blender is used, sauté onions before blending.
If olive oil us used, fry until dark brown two cloves of mashed garlic, husk and all, in the oil. Remove garlic and discard.


Please also read these article of interest:

mexican recipes  
about mexican food and cooking  
popular mexican ingredients   
chiles , chillies, peppers  
falling in love with mexico  
maize or corn  
make mole with a chef

Click here for a variety of salsa recipes



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