1 year ago

Salsa: The True Soul of the Taco


International Taco Day is celebrated on March 31st. On this occasion, we pay homage to salsas. All salsas start with the basic ingredients of chili peppers and tomatoes. To this, an infinity of spices can be added to spice up the character of this cornerstone of Mexican cuisine.

Salsa: The True Soul of the Taco

So, what is salsa?

  • It is a mixture of various ingredients made to dress or season food.
  • This soupy concoction can be made and served hot or cold.
  • The function of a salsa is to add a flavor that harmonizes with the main dish.
  • Chile-based salsas are archetypical of Mexican cuisine.

They incorporate spices from around the world like cilantro, garlic, onion, pepper, and even cumin, cloves and cinnamon.

  • They can be quick and simple or highly complex.
  • Some salsas are provided for guests on the table before the food even arrives. Other salsas are used to season dishes inside the kitchen.  

Types of salsas

Raw salsas: raw ingredients used. 

Cooked salsas: ingredients have been cooked before blending into a salsa.  

Mixed salsas:

  • Emulsions 
  • Pickled chipotles 
  • Marinades 

Why is salsa essential to a taco?

Why is salsa essential to a taco?

Everyone knows that the secret of a good taco is in its sauce. In fact, the purpose of salsa is to accompany food, improving, contrasting or complementing its flavor. 

A good salsa will offer the palate various sensations that stimulate taste and smell. In addition, salsas provide color, aroma and texture to any dish.

Don’t forget that salsas in Mexico are indispensable and they must include the king of all ingredients: the chili pepper!

Tools used in the preparations of salsas 

Molcajete

Tools used in the preparations of salsas

The molcajete is a pre-Hispanic stone mortar and pestle. Using a molcajete to make your salsa takes longer than using an electric blender, but the results are noticeably better. Salsas made by hand in a molcajete taste of tradition.

For best results, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Always begin with salt, followed by the dry ingredients of the salsa recipe. 
  • To save time, chop the ingredients beforehand. 
  • Roast and grind chiles, tomatoes and onions in advance. 

For Best Results

The secret of using a molcajete is patience, and the extra effort is worth it!  But of course, modernity has its place too. If you don’t have a molcajete, use your blender! 

If you are going to use fresh chiles…

Fresh chiles used for spicy salsas
  • To reduce the kick of your salsa, remove the seeds and veins using a knife. 
  • A second way to reduce the spiciness is to let the deseeded and deveined chiles sit for an hour in a bowl of water with salt and a few drops of vinegar. Then drain and rinse them before cooking. 

If your salsa recipe calls for peeled chiles, the best way is to roast and char them on the comal* or directly over a flame. Be sure to rotate the chiles as they roast so the skin of the chiles do not blacken.

  • Once the chiles are roasted, remove them from the heat and place them inside a plastic bag for 15 minutes, causing them to “sweat.” Finally, clean them under running water.  

*Comal: a traditional kitchen tool (made with clay or metal) used as a cooking griddle; similar to a flat frying pan.

If you are going to use dried chiles…

Dried chiles
  • Clean the chiles with a moistened kitchen towel. 
  • If you are grinding chiles, seeds and veins must be removed from the top. It helps soak them in water beforehand. 
  • If the salsa recipe asks that you “awaken” the flavor and aroma of the chiles, roast them on a comal or directly over the flame. You should be careful not to burn them or they turn sour!  
  • If the salsa recipe calls for rehydrated chiles, soak the chiles in a bowl, covering them with water, add some salt and a few drops of vinegar. 
  • Dried chiles can also be fried and served as a side dish. 

Other salsa ingredients: tomatoes and onions 

  • The easiest way to peel raw red tomatoes is to place them in boiling water for a minute. Allow them to cool and remove the skin. 

For peeled roasted tomatoes, start by roasting the tomatoes carefully on a comal. Then, remove them and allow to cool; peel using a knife.

  • If the recipe calls for green tomatoes (tomatillos), first wash them under running water, and peel off the skin using the same techniques mentioned above. 
  • If the flavor of raw onion is too strong for you, slice the onion and soak it in water with salt and a few drops of lime juice for half an hour. Drain. 

Recipes: Salsas prepared with Altos tequila

Drunken salsa with Altos tequila reposado 

makes 1 1/2 cups 

Drunken salsa with Altos tequila reposado 

Ingredients:

  • 6 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 dried pasilla chile
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil 
  • 50 ml Altos reposado  
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • 50 ml fresh orange juice
  • 50 g aged cheese, grated 
  • sea salt 
  • ½ onion, sliced

Method:

Roast or fry the chiles in oil for 3-5 minute over low heat. Be careful not to burn them. Remove the seeds. Grind the chiles, Altos tequila, garlic, and orange juice in a blender or molcajete until smooth. Pour the salsa into a bowl and add the cheese and salt to taste. Garnish with slices of onion and serve. 

Drunken salsa with Altos tequila plata  

makes 1 1/2 cups 

Drunken salsa with Altos tequila plata

Ingredients: 

  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 4 dried pasilla chiles
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil 
  • 250 ml Altos plata 
  • 6 medium tomatillos 
  • 2 medium tomatoes 
  • 1 garlic clove
  • sea salt 
  • 50 ml fresh orange juice
  • ½ medium onion, chopped 
  • 50 g aged cheese, grated 

Method:

Roast or fry the chiles in oil for 3-5 minute over a low heat. Be careful not to burn them. Remove the seeds. Soak the seedless chiles in Altos plata in a bowl for 20 minutes. Grind the tomatillos and the garlic in a molcajete. Add the chiles and Altos plata and grind together until well combined. Add the salt, orange juice and cheese. Serve. 

Elmy’s Margarita 

Recipe by Jacopo Rosito

makes a batch of approximately 110 pre diluted 102 ml drinks that should be chilled before serving

Elmy’s Margarita with Altos tequila Blanco

Ingredients: 

  • 6000 ml Altos Blanco 
  • 3000 ml agave syrup 1:1
  • 3000 ml clear sour mix 
  • 300 g serrano tincture
  • 1200 ml filtered water 

For clear sour mix 

  • 1l filtered water
  • 30 g citric acid
  • 20 g malic acid
  • 10  tartaric acid
  • 2,8 g of baking soda
  • 1-2 lemon zest

For serrano tincture  

  • 100g serrano peppers 
  • 200g Altos Plata 

Method: 

For clear sour mix, combine acids into water until diluted. Then, while mixing, add the baking soda until bubbling stops. Put lemon zest and rest over the night.

For serrano tincture, combine the ingredients together and vacuum sealed. Cook at 70 degrees or 160 Fahrenheit for one hour. Ice bath when is done. Keep everything well refrigerated. Serve 90 ml per cocktail.