Monday, August 27, 2007

An Undocumented Mexican...Recipe

Now I’m no Rick Bayless but I do like the style of food he prepares which is rustico, authentic Mexican. If you love documented Mexican food (as opposed to say...illegal and undocumented Mexican food), find yourself hungry in Chicago just stop by Rick's Topolobampo or Frontera Grill restaurants. It sure beats a trip to the Pilsen neighborhood and you won't be dodging any drive-by bullets.

Store bought salsa is…OK. Making it fresh from scratch takes a bit of slicing and dicing but the results are quite rewarding. Most folks like thick and chunky salsa mainly because that’s all they have ever had at casual dining joints like Chili’s or Don Pablo’s or off the grocery store shelf. This is not thick and chunky but the flavor is awesome and authentic.


This recipe is called Salsa De Molcajete. A molcajete is the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle. It is used in Mexican cooking to crush spices, smash vegetables or to grind primo sensimilla. I use the molcajete for powdering fresh spices but for this salsa I prefer using the Cuisinart. You can use the traditional Molcajete that Mammasita would use if you wish, I prefer the speed and texture a food processor can provide.

What gives this salsa a rich sweet flavor is roasting the tomatoes and peppers first. The serrnano peppers I am using today were grown in my herb garden. I don’t have enough sunny growing space for tomatoes and my homegrown cilantro did not make it so I paid for them. These serranos are a lot larger than the ones I buy at the farm stand or grocery store, I don’t know why. They’re very fat and not quite as hot so I just used more. They may look like jalapenos but they are not.

The following is the original recipe I stole from a rich farmer in Zihuatanejo. I have since changed the proportions to suit my taste and I also double or triple the ingredients. This will last for a week or more if refrigerated. The following also does not represent my personal taste preference or results. My suggestion is to start from here and then go do your own thing. Improvise!

5 Serrano Peppers
2 Ripe Roma Tomatoes.
1 Clove Garlic
1 t Salt
Juice of ½ lime
Fresh Cilantro to taste

On an iron skillet (I prefer the grill) roast the chiles and tomatoes for about 8-10 minutes or until the skins char and crack. After cooling you may remove the skins and definitely remove the seeds. Chop up the garlic. Strip the cilantro leaves off the stems and rough chop. Stems bad. Leaves good.

Toss all chopped ingredients into the food processor and give it a short spin. With a spatula turn and give it another spin or two. It is up to you and how fine you prefer the texture. Add fresh squeezed lime juice at the final chop spin.

This makes a fine chip dip but it can be used on tacos in place of taco sauce. It is good on hot dogs, hamburgers and just about anything you want to Mexicanize. Not too great on egg rolls though.

Try it, you’ll like it!


Annie said...

That is absolutely awesome looking. And I detect that you are a fan of Shawshank I'd expect nothing less... :p

gerry from valpo said...

Sorry, I never watched the movie. Heard it was good. Please tell my why you would thnk I would be a fan. Inquiring minds want to know =)>

Annie said...

There's a line in the movie when Andy Dufresne talks about Zihuatanejo, and then later covertly in a letter asks "You remember the name of the place, don't you?". The other character (Red) looks wistfully toward the sky and whispers to himself "Zihuatanejo...".

Jonathan said...

A good Zihuatanejo to all!

This looks like a really good recipe. I tried a more conventional salsa recipe once. The result was OK (better than store-bought) but nothing special, and it spoiled in about a day. As soon as I saw the pic of tomatoes and peppers on the grill I knew your recipe was in a different class.