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David Ross

eG Cook-Off #85: Mexican Salsa

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On 7/11/2020 at 10:05 AM, heidih said:

Just a note on the tortillas. When I have a gas fired oven I like to simply lay the on the grate  with heat. It is probably mental but it feel more authentico to me ') (they generally do not stick)

One of the best xmas gifts I ever got was a cast iron comal. It can be used for perfectly heating flour or corn tortillas, making quesadillas, etc. It's also a large flat diameter, and allows you to make more pancakes at a time than most any cast iron skillet. Gets a lot of use in our house. They can be found at any large Latinx supply store I think. Or Amazon. My recommendation is to get a traditional heavy duty one.

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I have fell down the home-made tortilla rabbit hole.

 

And I love it.

 

The tortillas I am able to make with this Maseca corn flour are delicious! 

 

I ordered a tortilla press from Mexico (cast iron) and am wondering about my cooking apparatus -

 

At the moment I am just using my carbon steel pan which holds heat very well, but a large flat slab of metal would be easier...for sure.

 

 

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1 hour ago, TicTac said:

I have fell down the home-made tortilla rabbit hole.

At the moment I am just using my carbon steel pan which holds heat very well, but a large flat slab of metal would be easier...for sure.

 

 

Yes the flat griddle works, A favorite memory is taking the kid downtown on Mother's Day (lots of street food) and seeing blue corn tortillas casually being flipped by the vendors.  So good. Try out blue corn masa., 

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On 7/11/2020 at 9:46 AM, David Ross said:

The pork shoulder turned out delicious.  Very moist and juicy and I kept all the fat and didn't trim it off.  Served as simple street tacos.  Sometimes I use corn tortillas, but I had been having a taste for flour tortillas so used those, then a bed of shredded cabbage.  I didn't toss the cabbage with any dressing, but it would be good with a little olive oil and lime juice.  Then thin slices of the pork shoulder and fat.  The soft bark on the pork added a lot of flavor.  Then topped with a spoonful of the Roasted Chile-Tomatillo Salsa and served with a lime wedge.  The deeper flavors of this salsa went very well with pork.  There is so much pork leftover I'll have plenty to serve in a chili or stew, freeze for later, sandwiches, and probably some crispy tacos.  

 

Another question for everyone, have you ever frozen salsa?  Did you find it had flavor once it was thawed?

 

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder.JPG

 

Slow-Roasted Pork.JPG

 

Pork Shoulder Street Tacos.JPG

 

IMG_1814.JPG

This pork has turned out to be so versatile, and why it's been delicious with salsas, I also put some into menudo.  Our best local Mexican grocer and cafe makes menudo and posole on the weekends, so I bought their menudo and add some of this pork. 

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Two questions this morning.  Have you ever used a dried fruit to make a salsa?  Or have you ever used a fruit paste?  I've got my eye on a salsa using guava, but it's not available fresh in my local markets.  But the Mexican grocer sells dried guava and also a thick guava paste.  The salsa also includes dried pequin peppers.  I'll most likely not use a pequin pepper because it sounds like it would blow my head off.  

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Have you ever used tamarind in a Mexican salsa?  I found one of my old recipes for a sauce using tamarind juice that I use for Indian dishes, but reading through the ingredients it actually fits well within our Cook-Off.  The other ingredients include jalapeno, fresh mint, a bit of sugar and vinegar.  I'll change things up a bit, but wondering if anyone has used tamarind in a salsa.

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23 minutes ago, David Ross said:

Have you ever used tamarind in a Mexican salsa?  I found one of my old recipes for a sauce using tamarind juice that I use for Indian dishes, but reading through the ingredients it actually fits well within our Cook-Off.  The other ingredients include jalapeno, fresh mint, a bit of sugar and vinegar.  I'll change things up a bit, but wondering if anyone has used tamarind in a salsa.

 

I've made a mango salsa that used tamarind, along with mango, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, golpar and pomegranate arils.  If the golpar didn't tip you off, I will - the recipe is NOT Mexican and comes from Naz Deravian's Bottom of the Pot where it's an accompaniment to fish cakes made with sardines.  The leftovers were delicious with tortilla chips. 

The disadvantage of using tamarind in place of citrus is that it can make things look muddy even if they taste bright and fresh.

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I have done tamarind and as @blue_dolphin notes there is that color thing but in a salsa with dried chilis - no big deal. I use the dried pods. Remove brittle outside, slip flesh off and soak in bit of warm water. To me a brighter taste than paste. Plus collect the seeds because they are beautiful. (cue Omar Sharif & Julie Andrews in "The Tamarind Seed")

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In addition to salsa, what other condiments do you like on street tacos, crispy tacos and any other dish you serve with salsa?  In addition to cilantro, I like thinly sliced red radish that I soak in ice water to get them crisp.  Sometimes a little queso fresa cheese and always fresh cilantro.  But I just remembered the pickled red onions I make.  It's a recipe I've used for years that comes from Chef Rick Bayless and couldn't be easier.  

 

pickled red onions - Copy.JPG

 

Ingredients-

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

2 cups water

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. granulated sugar

 

Instructions-

Cut the ends off the onion.  Use a mandoline-style vegetable slicer to slice the onion into thin rings.  We set the slicer to cut thin onion rings no more than 1/8" thick.  Cut the slices of onion in half.

In a saucepan, add the water, apple cider vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to boil.  Take the saucepan off the heat and add the sliced red onion.

Let the brine and onions cool to room temperature, then place in a container, cover and refrigerate overnight to pickle.  The onions will turn a bright pink during pickling.

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I am a great fan of Mexican sour cream, a staple in my kitchen.   It is lightly salted, ergo seemingly less tart than our commercial brands.


eGullet member #80.

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Just now, Margaret Pilgrim said:

I am a great fan of Mexican sour cream, a staple in my kitchen.   It is lightly salted, ergo seemingly less tart than our commercial brands.

Glad you reminded me of it.  I can get Mexican crema at most of our local supermarkets.

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6 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

I am a great fan of Mexican sour cream, a staple in my kitchen.   It is lightly salted, ergo seemingly less tart than our commercial brands.

 

@Margaret Pilgrim, when you say Mexican sour cream that is less tart than our commercial brands, is this an artisanal product that differs from our commercial crema brands?  Some of them have additives that I don't care for so I'm interested in what you are using.    

 

I'm a fan of the "crema" recipe in Roberto Guzman's Nopalito.  He calls for 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt + 3 teaspoons lime juice +1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and says to adjust the lime and salt to taste.  I dial the salt back by half.  

 

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36 minutes ago, David Ross said:

In addition to salsa, what other condiments do you like on street tacos, crispy tacos and any other dish you serve with salsa?  In addition to cilantro, I like thinly sliced red radish that I soak in ice water to get them crisp.  Sometimes a little queso fresa cheese and always fresh cilantro.  But I just remembered the pickled red onions I make.  It's a recipe I've used for years that comes from Chef Rick Bayless and couldn't be easier.  

 

pickled red onions - Copy.JPG

 

Ingredients-

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

2 cups water

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. granulated sugar

 

Instructions-

Cut the ends off the onion.  Use a mandoline-style vegetable slicer to slice the onion into thin rings.  We set the slicer to cut thin onion rings no more than 1/8" thick.  Cut the slices of onion in half.

In a saucepan, add the water, apple cider vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to boil.  Take the saucepan off the heat and add the sliced red onion.

Let the brine and onions cool to room temperature, then place in a container, cover and refrigerate overnight to pickle.  The onions will turn a bright pink during pickling.

 

Looks tasty no doubt, but I am surprised that Bayless would publish what appears to be a unauthentic Mexican recipe...

 

Typically pickled red onions are made by salting the onions heavily, let sweat, perhaps rinse.  Then cover with lime juice and sometimes chili's thrown in for heat.  That's it.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, TicTac said:

 

Looks tasty no doubt, but I am surprised that Bayless would publish what appears to be a unauthentic Mexican recipe...

 

Typically pickled red onions are made by salting the onions heavily, let sweat, perhaps rinse.  Then cover with lime juice and sometimes chili's thrown in for heat.  That's it.

 

 

Interesting.  The recipe from Bayless is a "quick pickled red onion" so maybe that's why it's different.  In the Bayless cookbooks I have there are recipes for the method you mentioned.  I'll try that and see if I can taste any difference.

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I adore the oregano pickled onions in Josef Centeno's Amá which use a method very similar to the Bayless recipe that @David Ross just shared.  These show off the flavor of Oregano Indio to its finest but can also be made with Mexican oregano or another type.  But seek out the Oregano Indio if you can.  It's a different thing and delicious here.  Mine is from Rancho Gordo. 

 

Pickled Oregano Onions

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2-3 dried arbol chiles

1.5 cups distilled white vinegar

1.5 cups water

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1.5 Tbsp dried Mexican oregano, preferably Oregano Indio

 

Put the onions in a heat-proof jar

Toast chiles in a dry pan until they release their aroma

Bring the vinegar, water, salt & sugar to a boil then add the chilies & oregano and pour over the onions and let cool.

Store in the refrigerator.  

 

I'll also state that Centeno clearly identifies the recipes in this book as Tex-Mex, the great regional cooking that evolved in those border regions before being corrupted by fast food chains.  

So I'm not claiming that these are authentically Mexican but they are delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

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30 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

 

@Margaret Pilgrim, when you say Mexican sour cream that is less tart than our commercial brands, is this an artisanal product that differs from our commercial crema brands?  Some of them have additives that I don't care for so I'm interested in what you are using.    

 

I'm a fan of the "crema" recipe in Roberto Guzman's Nopalito.  He calls for 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt + 3 teaspoons lime juice +1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and says to adjust the lime and salt to taste.  I dial the salt back by half.  

 

You are correct about additives.   I have ignored them.    My bad but tastes good.

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eGullet member #80.

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25 minutes ago, David Ross said:

Interesting.  The recipe from Bayless is a "quick pickled red onion" so maybe that's why it's different.  In the Bayless cookbooks I have there are recipes for the method you mentioned.  I'll try that and see if I can taste any difference.

Do report back, but I am nearly certain you will tell the difference.  To me, the lime pickled onions are far more 'fresh' and citrus-y tasting.  The ideal accompaniment to a taco, as lime is a per-requisite most of the time anyways!

 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, TicTac said:

Do report back, but I am nearly certain you will tell the difference.  To me, the lime pickled onions are far more 'fresh' and citrus-y tasting.  The ideal accompaniment to a taco, as lime is a per-requisite most of the time anyways!

 

 

 

Our taco trucks offer the onions, cilantro, radish, and lime wedges. Uncomplicated street food. If they get too busy I think you lose the intended nature - but I am usually Miss Opposite. I don't care for milk products on the mentioned items except crema (diluted) with fish tacos.


Edited by heidih (log)
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I love pickled red onions. I have Bayless' Authentic Mexican. His recipe includes

Red onion

Black peppercorns

Cumin seeds

Oregano

Salt

Cider vinegar

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That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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I did a taste test between my recipe for pickled red onions and the recipe suggested by @TicTac. The Bayless recipes tastes more of the vinegar and less of the onion, (on the left).  I still like it on some Mexican dishes and to accompany salsa on a street taco, but I have to say I prefer the recipe from @TicTac (on the right), much more onion flavor, a deeper pinkish-red color, and I like the extra salty kick over a more vinegary flavor of the recipe I've been using.  I'll still change out the pickled red onions, but my next dish is a fruit-based salsa with duck, and I think the "salted" onions might go well with the sweet salsa.

Pickled Red Onion Taste Test.JPG

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My next salsa was quite the experiment but it turned out delicious.  I started with a recipe for Salsa de Chile Piquin Seco y Persimo or Dried Piquin Chile and Persimmon Salsa.  I knew I couldn't find fresh persimmons this time of year, but thought I might find some dried.  To no avail, but then I remembered canned guava and mango paste at the local Mexican market.  The guava paste comes in a wide round can. I was leery of using the piquin chiles as they are rated very hot and my palate is fairly timid.  They look so innocent in the package, like tiny little red candies and about the size of peas.  So I turned it into a Guava and Dried Pasilla Chile Salsa.  Sweet, thick, smoky and mild.  It probably could have used one or two of the little dried piquin chiles for heat or maybe a little fresh jalapeno.  It's thick kind of like the texture of Asian oyster sauce.  I served the salsa with shredded duck using a pre-cooked duck I get at the supermarket and then just heat up.  Grilled some corn street tacos, then the salsa, duck, some Mexican crema, cilantro and the salted onions from the above post.  Delicious and introduced me to a new style of salsa.  

 

3/4 cup guava paste

4 cloves garlic, charred

1/2 yellow onion, charred

1 dried pasilla chile

1 tbsp. Mexican oregano

hot water to thin the salsa

 

Reconstitute the dried chile in boiling water, then drain and place in a blender with the guava paste, garlic, onion and Mexican oregano.   Grill corn tortillas to heat them up and soften, then add a layer of the salsa, shredded duck, drizzle on some crema and garnish with cilantro and pickled red onions.

 

Duck Street Tacos.JPG

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Posted (edited)

Looks and sound deliciousod. A sweeter sauce with duck is of course traditional and I like it. Sorta sounds like a lot of oregano especially of you are using good stuff. Was the balance to your taste?


Edited by heidih Really good 3 times in 4 sentences Heidi! (log)
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25 minutes ago, heidih said:

Looks and sound deliciousod. A sweeter sauce with duck is of course traditional and I like it. Sorta sounds like a lot of oregano especially of you are using good stuff. Was the balance to your taste?

 

Yes, it was delicious and I think it could go lighter on the oregano but I didn't think it overpowered the salsa.  I'd add more heat next time. 

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As it happens, I just stumbled over a container of frozen persimmon pulp in my freezer. I like the idea of making a salsa with it. Persimmon pulp, charred onion, a bit of chile for heat...what else should go into that? Garlic and/or oregano as above? And would it be better with chicken breast or pulled pork?

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

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