According to Chef Frank Johnson, executive chef at Roaring Fork, Stonelake, in Austin, Texas, Mexican dishes are all about sauces and salsas. "Any time you're at a traditional Mexican meal, you'll see many different condiments and several kinds of salsa on the table," he explained. "Everything is fresh, and the idea is to use all those flavors together. There's something great about a fresh, chunky pico de gallo and a zesty, smooth tomatillo sauce coming together in one bite of a taco."
So what exactly is pico de gallo? Check out this simple guide to understanding Mexican sauces and salsas.
Now that you know what these Mexican salsas and sauces are, how do you use them? Check out these tips from Chef Johnson:
According to Johnson, the most important tip is to keep things fresh and simple. "The biggest key to salsas and sauces is the freshness of your ingredients."
Johnson and his team use tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper and fresh poblano peppers as a base for many of their sauces and salsas.
"With very traditional Mexican food, you'll see a lot of cooking that takes place over an open flame, and even on outdoor wood fires," Johnson said. So he recommends using wood-fired cooking techniques as often as possible to capture that authentic taste.
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