Intro: Fresh Zesty Salsa
Capturing a homemade salsa as an exact recipe is tough. No two batches are the same; fresh produce can vary in flavor and spice, experimenting with amounts and ingredients, etc. This time I kept careful track of what and how much of everything I put in but that still doesn't guarantee it will taste the same next time but that's one of the joys of salsa. It's a very forgiving dish that can almost always be recovered if you think you've messed it up so I urge you to experiment the second or third time you make this.
The salsa itself has a fairly complex flavor with lots of layers. The kick comes from serrano peppers and the twist, or "secret" ingredient, is the inclusion of the lime zest, not just the juice. When you use just the juice sometimes the lime flavor is lost if you don't scoop a lot the salsa "juices". The zest mixes with the chunks and is always subtly present.
Step 1: Ingredients
- 1x - Sweet Onion (Large)
- 10x - Roma Tomatoes
- 4x - Serrano Peppers
- 3x - Jalapeno Peppers
- 1/2 bulb - Fresh Garlic
- 2x Limes (Juice+Zest)
- 1/8 cup - Fresh Cilantro (Finely Diced)
- 1 Tbsp - Sea Salt
- Knifes - Chef's and paring.
- Food Processor
- Cutting Board
- Mortar & Pestle
- Mixing Bowl
Step 2: Build the Base
- Tomatoes - Slice off ends, cut in half.
- Onion - Peel, slice off ends, remove core, cut into quarters.
- Peppers - Cut off tops, slice in half length wise. Remove the pith (milky white membrane in the middle) for less heat.
Move the processed base into the mixing bowl.
Step 3: Add the Limes
It is easiest to zest the limes if they are whole so we will do that first. Zest the limes from end to end, moving around the circumference. Once you have a pile of zest use a knife and mince it up a little and then add it to the mixing bowl bit-by-bit while stirring.
Now slice the limes in half in the middle. To get the most juice out without a juicer or juicing tool, give a half a good squeeze over the mixing bowl. Insert a spoon into the middle of the half. Now, while holding the half in your off hand, grip the spoon's handle while placing your thumb into the concave side. Press the spoon into the lime's flesh and twist the spoon and/or lime around.
Unrelated Tip: If you are using the juice of a citrus fruit in a recipe but not the zest you can still remove the zest, seal it in a ziploc and freeze it for later.
Step 4: Spice It Up
Add the sea salt. You don't have to use sea salt but I like the flavor. If you use table salt you may need more or less. Start with less and work to taste.
The cilantro needs to be finely minced. I accomplished this with the food processor but you can do it by hand as well.
Mince the garlic in the food processor and then a little by hand if there are still big chunks. Put the minced garlic in the mortar and crush and grind it. It will turn into almost a paste. The point of this is to release the oils from the garlic which help spread the flavor through the salsa. I sometime use the pre-chopped garlic that comes in a jar but if you have fresh garlic there's no good reason to pass it up unless you're in a big hurry.
Dump everything into the bowl and mix well.
Step 5: Salsa Time!
Break out the chips and start tasting and adjusting. It's a good idea to have extra onion and tomatoes on hand. If you go to far with something (lime, heat, salt, etc.) you can add more tomato and onion to balance it.
This will last a week or two in the fridge but watch out, as it sits it probably will get hotter as the capsaicin from the peppers spreads out and soaks into everything.