The Unassuming Ingredient Perfect Salsa
Making fresh salsa at home is easy and the result is a versatile snack perfect to eat plain with chips or spoon over grilled fish, steak, or chicken. A few simple tips and easy-to-find ingredients can take your salsa recipe to the next level and this master of Mexican cuisine knows all the tricks.
Salsa sits firmly on the Mount Rushmore of dips. With so many variations that work so well—green, fruit-based, corn — it’s hard to tire of the stuff. It’s also no wonder grocery stores have entire chunks of aisles dedicated to the spicy snack but, in truth, there’s nothing better than a fresh, homemade batch.
When jarred and stored some of the key ingredients like spicy peppers and lime juice can lose a bit of their pep. So if you’re breaking out the bag of tortilla chips for a Mexican feast (and/or to accompany tequila cocktails) you should try making your next salsa from scratch. It’s easy and there are a few super simple steps and considerations that’ll take a homemade salsa from just fine to fabulous.
In an online Master Class superstar chef Gabriela Cámara will walk you through a number of classic dishes and the fundamentals of Mexican flavors with a focus on seafood. Chef Cámara also explains how to make three distinct salsas in detail, including a bright salsa verde cruda (raw green salsa), spicy onion & habanero salsa, and salsa tatemada (burnt/blistered salsa).
We tracked chef Cámara down for a few of her essential tips for making a perfect salsa, including one ingredient you might never have guessed for keeping a green (verde) salsa bright and ultra-crisp.
The Chilis Matter
Chili is the building block of salsa, but from there you can add different herbs, spices, and vegetables to make it your own. Chef Cámara stresses the importance of sourcing the best and freshest chilis you can find and if you can’t find certain ones at the grocery store try a farmers market Latin grocer, or online specialty retailer.
Add Gem Lettuce (Yes, Lettuce) For a Crisp Salsa Verde Cruda
When making salsa verde cruda the trick to a more concentrated flavor is fresh tomatillos. Along with the tomatillos, toss in a bit of lettuce for a fresher, crisper taste. Chef recommends gem lettuce or something similar.
Habaneros Give the Best Flavor
Habanero is one of the spicier chili peppers you can find, but it’s also one of the most appealing and flavorful. Cámara suggests using plastic gloves when handling habaneros, as the chili oils if it gets in your eyes.
There are also several ways to chop habaneros, but when making salsa brava, chop perpendicularly through the habanero, as thin as you can get them. Every part of the pepper can be used except the stem.
Employ a Comal for Blistered Peppers
Salsa tatemada means so everything you put into the salsa is roasted. The best way to achieve the taste is to roast your peppers on a clay or metal comal or an extremely hot pan. Make sure to keep a window open or use an exhaust fan because the aroma is intense.