There are many Mexican salsa recipes out there, and each is different based on many factors like the region it's from, the specific ingredients used and what type of food the salsa will be used with.
Tomatoes, chiles, onions and garlic are the four main components to just about any authentic Mexican salsa (and in Mexico, salsa is served with almost every dish from eggs to soup to meat). Keep in mind that not all Mexican salsas tip the too-spicy-to-eat-scale simply because they include chiles! Fear not -- it's fun to try new foods!
Additional ingredients used to make Mexican salsa special are also varied, but most salsas include the following standard ingredients:
Tomate verdes, also known as tomatillos, are related to tomatoes and used very often in Mexican dishes. They are about the size of an apricot and grow inside a thin husk that you want to remove before eating. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding them in markets and grocery stores in North America, and you've probably tasted them in the form of green salsas served in many Mexican restaurants.
Cilantro is a bright green and very flavorful herb that looks like parsley. It is made up of the leaves and stem of the coriander plant (coriander seeds are often dried and ground or used whole for seasoning and have a different taste than cilantro). Cilantro has a strong and refreshing flavor and is used often in spicy dishes, especially in Mexican, Indian and Asian specialties.
Chiles are another ingredient used in Mexican salsas, and there are many types (and their names change based on whether the chile is fresh or dried, and the region it's from). The Serrano chile is one you might like to use when you make salsa since it is small, spicy and doesn't need to be roasted or cored to use. You can simply dice and add them to your salsa. Serranos are much hotter than jalapeño chiles and are typically only a few inches long and about a half inch in diameter. Their color can be anywhere from a bright green to a darker green, to orange and yellow.
The following recipes came from a beautiful cookbook, Mexico the Beautiful Cookbook with recipes by Susanna Palazuelos. It's filled with wonderful recipes, photos and history.
This is a classic condiment, served in most all Mexican restaurants. The ingredients of this salsa are finely chopped and not blended.
This salsa has an earthy flavor and is considered an everyday salsa found across Mexico.
Salsas are either fresh or cooked, but this version has a bit more intensity due to the fact that the chiles are roasted. This is perfect served with the popular snack foods sold on the street corners in Mexico. If you're closer to home, these "snacks" are usually made of corn and turned into favorites like tacos, enchiladas, burritos and tamales.
The salad is simple and a great side dish for any meal, particularly served with a mild fish. Ancho chiles are sweet but hot and are a dried version of poblano chiles, very popular in authentic Mexican cooking.
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