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Q&A: Mexican Table Salsas

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I have not had a chance to read this in detail yet, but I love this lesson. I'm going to be spending a long time delving into the nuances of table salsas. Y'all done great. I've made my own for a couple of years now and have been very pleased with how they turned out -- especially after I started growing my own chiles. But this is head and shoulders above any reference I have. Thank you!

Chad

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Great class Theabroma. If I have a question it is: is there a real difference in Mexico between table salsas and cooking salsas. I think you'd say no, right?

Rachel

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I agree that this class is really wonderful. Thanks to everyone that contributed.

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If I have a question it is: is there a real difference in Mexico between table salsas and cooking salsas. I think you'd say no, right?

Rachel

Uh oh! No, there really isn't any real difference.

But I would probably argue for a continuum from raw salsas to cooked ones, eg: more ingredients creep in as you go from fresh to cooked. After all, chuck some toasted pumpkin seeds, radish tops, a poblano, and chard or lettuce leaves into a cooked salsa verde and you have a credible mole or pipian verde.

But I agree, there really isn't a fundamental difference.

And thanks!

Theabroma

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I was going through a new book I got, Antojeria Mexicana by Patricia Quintana, and noticed an interesting salsa that I thought some here might find especially delightful. I'll do my best to translate and paraphrase it. Maybe theabroma can help out where I give the Spanish. I haven't tried it out, yet, however:

Salsa Borracha

10 chiles pasillas negros

2 onions (cebollas de rabos grandes, ie with long stalks), finely chopped

1 cup of Medelo beer

1/4 cup of Jose Cuervo tequila

1/2 cup pulque (maybe theabroma can suggest a substitute)

300 grams tomatillos

1/2 cup of boiling or boiled water (agua hervida)

Salt to taste

Roast the tomatillos and chiles (she has an elaborate setup where you roast the pasillas in charcoal ash). Grind the chiles in a molcajete or blender. Add the roasted tomatillos, chopped onion, pulque, beer, tequila, water and gring until nicely textured, but not smooth. Salt to taste.

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10 chiles pasillas negros

2 onions (cebollas de rabos grandes, ie with long stalks), finely chopped

1 cup of Medelo beer

1/4 cup of Jose Cuervo tequila

1/2 cup pulque (maybe theabroma can suggest a substitute)

300 grams tomatillos

1/2 cup of boiling or boiled water (agua hervida)

Salt to taste

Pasillas negras must be her way of distinguishing the dried chile pasilla from the fresh one - which is called chile chilaca, anyway.

Cebolla de rabo is, basically, white bulb onion with the tops still on it. Green onions are known as cebollitas or cebollas de Cambray.

Medelo beer is Negra Modelo

Woof! and pulque - Sometimes you can find pulques curados, or 'cured' - i.e.: flavored pulques, but not the real Mexican, down and dirty stuff. It has the viscosity of water in which okra has been overcooked, the pearly, translucent greenish white color of half watered, home-brewed Arrak or Ouzo, and a sourish twang (like not having brushed you teeth in a while sourish) and a fermenty aroma.

It is an acquired taste, and it will either slide right on down or book a quick return trip. The dregs of the pulque pot are used as leavening for bread, and all sorts of mystical and magick cures are attributed to it.

I would say a shpritz of Pernod, Ouzo, or Arrak, but pulque is not liquorice/anis flavored.

If you happen to have a couple of agaves out in your back yard, I can tell you how to harvest aguamiel and make your own .... No, I didn't think so.

Theabroma

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Great class, guys. I love the helpful table/chart of ingredients.

I made the kiwi-apple salsa over the weekend, with a few modifications to fit my palate. I roasted the tomatillos (instead of using them raw), used chipotle as the pepper, and honey as the sugar (though it didn't need much). Wow! It may not be a traditional salsa, but it's a winner. Can't wait to try some of the other recipes.

Scott

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Scott, that's exactly the result I was hoping for. I hope others will experiment.

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Excellent class from all angles - writing, photos, recipes and resources. Thank you and congratulations!

~Tad

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Thank you. Sharon and I have a couple more on the way, maybe in May. I do hope that the lack of questions is because it was so comprehensive and not because it was too daunting or boring.

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I do hope that the lack of questions is because it was so comprehensive and not because it was too daunting or boring.

Absolutely not! It's a great feature and thanks to both of you for all the time, hard work, and fantastic photos, atmospheric and instructive at the same time. You've made me want to get out a molcajete and start grinding away. Only problem is, I don't have one, so a stick blender will have to do. Sure wish I could get tomatillos in southwest England. Salsa verde is one of the greatest things on earth!

MP

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Great course, Nick and Sharon! Thank you so much for doing this. You've inspired me to try my hand at some of this. :smile:

All the recipes have now been incorporated into RecipeGullet. Each recipe has a link in the introduction back to this course.

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Thank you ever so much for this class!! It has truly inspired me. :smile:

Edited to say that I will be coming back to it often. Bravo for the great work.


Edited by bleudauvergne (log)

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Thank you so much for the great class! I've made salsa many times in the past, but it's always been of the Salsa Mexicana variety. Your class has given me the knowledge and inspiration to branch out and try something new.

I made the Salsa de Chile de Arbol last night, and boy does it pack a punch. It also has a flavor quite unlike any salsa I've had before. It was great.

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Thank you so much for doing this class. As you already know (by referencing my plea for help thread) tackling Mexican has become an important cooking goal for this year.

This class, combined with what Jaymes has taught me, gives me all the building blocks I need to create tasty and inventive salsas. The mix 'n' match chart of the basic components to make a salsa is priceless. It provides endless opportunites for innovation by teaching salsa theory. (Which is consistent with so many other great eGCI courses)

The funny thing is, I actually thought I was a good cook before eGullet. Learning from you all has elevated my cooking significantly. (As well as humbled me) :wink::wink:

Msk

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Again, thank you for the praises. I'm not too proud to accept them, even if they're for pity's sake. :wink:

Ratguy, try adding a roasted tomato to that salsa, a little sugar, and just a hint of vinegar. It softens the kick a little and adds a nice sweetness. I'm still trying to get the taqueria that gave me the recipe (it actually starts with 2 lbs of chile de arbols!!!!) to show me how to make it. Theirs turns out better, not surprisingly.

MP, yeah, I don't know if I could ever move to Europe just because I'd have to start my own Mexican garden. It's tough enough finding some things here, or even in California and Texas. I searched for some sources online and couldn't find much for the UK. Do you have a farmer's market where you could talk a tomato producer into growing some? Tomatillos are awesome. They change character so much from raw to the different ways of being cooked, too. There are purple ones as well, which are sweeter. I'm sure Sharon could even elaborate more.

Msk, one of the things I love about cooking is there is always more to learn. There are so many cuisines I know absolutely nothing about except what I have had at some Americanized restaurant. So much to learn, so little time. What sucks is that I'm the type of person who wants to know everything and can't just specialize, even though I enjoy Mexican food so much, I spend a lot of time with it. The great thing about eGullet is that a community of experts in different cuisines makes for a complete expert of all cuisines.

I was hoping that chart would come in handy. I'm thinking about making some similar ones for other such things and putting them on my website.

Thanks again for all the comments.

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This class, combined with what Jaymes has taught me,

Thank you. I, too, appreciate the compliment. :rolleyes:

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Thanks for a very informative class. I've too busy so I am catching up now and have one question if it is not too late. I am planning on trying the last salsa (Chile De Arbol) and was wondering what kind of shelf (or fridge) life something like this might have since I do not think I will be eating the whole batch in one sitting!!!

Thanks

Elie

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Thanks for a very informative class. I've too busy so I am catching up now and have one question if it is not too late. I am planning on trying the last salsa (Chile De Arbol) and was wondering what kind of shelf (or fridge) life something like this might have since I do not think I will be eating the whole batch in one sitting!!!

Thanks

Elie

The last batch I made kept over a week no problem in the fridge, but in general I like to keep a salsa for as little time as possible.

A cooked salsa will keep better than a fresh salsa. A high proportion of dried chiles in the salsa will keep better than a high proportion of tomatoes. Vinegar and salt will extend the life of the salsa, too.

That's my experience. But I haven't really tested how long these salsas taste good.

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Thanks for the information. Now that it's going to be nice this weekend (NJ), I think I'll try my hand at making my own salsa (I usually pick up a jar at the supermarket). Yep maybe grill a few steaks have some salsa, guacamole, chips and some margaritas.

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Great course! I haven't been able to spend much time with this so far, but the fine thing that you two have done is to convey a great deal conceptually about salsas combined with concrete techniques and recipes. Terrific chart. Very cool. I'll be drawing on this for making salsas for a crowd in a couple of weeks. Thanks.

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Thanks. If any of you come up with improvements or variations or inventions, you should definitely post them!

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Great course-- thanks for doing it. I've got a question about tomatillos and salsa verde. I make it fairly close to your method, but occationaly the result is unpleasantly sour (trying to sweeten it has made it an even more unpleasant sweet n' sour). Is this due to the tomatillos being too unripe/old or perhaps not cooking them long enough/short enough?

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cjsadler, Sharon may have more insight, but...

Are you frying the salsa after roasting and blending? That may help; it reduces the tanginess of tomatillo-based salsas just like roasting or simmering decreases the tanginess of raw tomatillos (which can also use).

I try to stay away from sugar if I can. Don't want to go down the anglo road of making everything into a ketchup.

Also, a splash of lime at the end can take the edge off a salsa if you have mediocre ingredients.

You do want to roast or simmer them until they're pretty soft. Think canned tomatoes soft.


Edited by ExtraMSG (log)

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