Sunday, February 26, 2006

Salsa Tech Tree

Now, you have to be a computer game playing geek from the late 1990s to understand that title, but that said, it does apply here.

I recently started venturing out into making my own salsas. Partly this is because the locals confuse the the word with 'tomato paste'. The second is that I would like to have some recipes that are specific to my own family. Oh, I have my rather powerful spaghetti, my steak teriyaki, and chicken a la will as well as Lyuda's delicious stuff, but I mostly cook free hand and without repeatable recipes. It's what takes my fancy and I make it...and toy with it...alot.

I have come to love habaneros. Don't get me wrong, there's little in this world that can compare to Hatch Green Chile as far as flavour, but the 'little monsters' as my wife calls them has a wonderful flavour that can be added to meat and such. With that in mind, I decided to take my hand into making my own salsas. At this point, most are 'little monster' based because they're easier to get because they're stocked year round at our favourite store for produce. The first one is what most would call a pico de gallo. It's a basis for several other sauces and the start of my salsa tech tree.

Ingredients:

1 habanero
1 yellow onion
3 roma tomatoes
2 steak tomatoes
1 lime
cilantro, fresh
garlic, sage, ginger, oregano (dried)
1/2 cup boiling hot water.

Mince the habanero into very, very small pieces a couple mm on a side. chop onion. dice tomatoes. Place all in a bowl. add squeezed lime juice. To conservative taste, add minced cilantro (this one's strong, so be careful!). add garlic, sage, oregano, and ginger to taste (yes, sage and ginger, but only a little bit). Mix well. Very well. Add boiling water. Mix extensively. Let sit for own hour and periodicly stir. Then ready to eat.

Upgrade one: After adding hot water, put in blender. Have at it until it's consistant. Place in a sauce pan and lightly boil down to a thicker, but not paste thickness. Think restaurant salsa thickness. Yummy and interestingly with a different flavour than the pico de gallo.

Upgrade two: Take half the first pico de gallo and 4 avocados. Mash avocados with potato masher. Make sure they're mush. Add and stir in pico de gallo. Add diced roma tomatos and lemon juice to taste.

Both of the first two can be used for cooking meat and I frequently do. All three are excellent for chips and salsa.

I also started messing around with a tomatillo salsa and a pineapple-habanero salsa. Those are not ready for public consumption yet. The prototype tomatillo salsa is good especially when scrambled in with eggs. It has s spicy, tangy taste. I have also played around with poblano and serrano chiles. Poblanos, diced and fried, and then added to salads are rather good. However, I think that serrnos are going to be like jalapenos and largely unwelcome in the Baird household. It's a taste thing...*shrugs*

If James Nicoll is reading this, be very, very careful preparing the habaneros. I have gotten some of the oil in an eye. It hurts. A lot. Wash your hands with soap. Multiple times. ok? I'd hate for one of my recipes to be what finally kills you. I'd much rather a surfeit of Baxter would do you in.

Speaking of old Baxter, I'll have to have a rant sometime. I found that very little in Evolution is original to him. In fact, almost all of it, far future to past, is taken from somewhere else. Anything from Walking with Dinosaurs to Dougal Dixon's work (After Man, The New Dinosaurs, and Man After Man). *sighs* At least the prose was originally his.

Oh yeah, back to the point of this post originally, the tech tree will be getting deeper. Be patient.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Habaneros and sweet tropical fruits go very well together -- mangoes, pineapples, and I am working myself up to guavas. Not sure why.

In a related note, I have been messing on and off with vanilla in my chile concotions. It brings out the fruitiness of the peppers in a very intriguing way, though these recipes are still under development.

And happy belated birthday to Avrora!