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Q&A: Mexican Table Salsas

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What a great class!! Thank you! I have a question. My favorite restaurant here in Santa Cruz, CA. has a table salsa that is to die for. It' s made out of tomatillos and chiles japones, but that's all I can get out of the owner. It's hot and very addictive. Does anyone know of a recipe?

Thanks!

Sheila

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That's tough, Sheila. You might have better luck on the California board seeing if anyone has eaten it. There are so many combinations possible. It's very likely to be similar to the salsa verde cruda in the class, possibly fried afterwards as well. Try making that and see how it compares. I'd be interested to hear your results. Just fry half of the batch. Good luck!


Edited by ExtraMSG (log)

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extramsg-

i too am from portland and am love with the salsa(and only the salsa) at aztec willie's and maya's taqueria. have you sampled the salsa at this mediocre chain. any tips on how to make it? thanks in advance.

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Many thanks for a magnificent lesson which was clearly conceived to address all possible questions and doubts. I can't wait to hit the market tomorrow morning so I can get cracking!

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extramsg-

i too am from portland and am love with the salsa(and only the salsa) at aztec willie's and maya's taqueria. have you sampled the salsa at this mediocre chain. any tips on how to make it? thanks in advance.

I'm sure I have, but I don't remember it. Maybe I'll stop in and test them out some time when I'm out and about.

You missed a trip you probably would have liked today. Our portlandfood.org group went to what I consider the four best taqueria-level Mexican places in Portland Metro: Salvador's Bakery (Woodburn), Taqueria Ochoa (Hillsboro), Poncho's al Pastor (Vancouver), and Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon (Gresham).

Eleven of us piled into a 15 person van and did the huge loop, probably well over 100 miles total driving. I'll be posting some info on the PNW board tonight. We only spent $20 per person and had a ton of food, plus that paid for the van and gas.

I bet I tried more than a dozen distinct salsas and I've tried to recreate several before to no avail. It can be tough to narrow one down. I can usually get most of the major components, though.

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Thanks MiguelCardoso and Smarmotron. You are both too kind. I hope you'll report back with any successes or failures and ideas for improving any of the recipes you try.

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Thank you for this lesson. It is helping me fine-tune my salsas.

I was practically born in an El Fenix in Dallas. We called their salsa "Mexican soup", because we consumed it in such large quantities.

A question about cooked salsas: I used to eat at a restaurant which served an unusual hot salsa. It was so rich I assumed they put in meat stock, perhaps from their roasting of cabritto. Is this a Mexican variation? Nothing like this is mentioned in your "basic ingredients" table. Any angle on this?

About fresh salsas: The best fresh salsa I have ever eaten was at Casa de Valdez in Rancho de Taos, NM. They would not give me the recipe... :sad: I have tried repeatedly to duplicate it. Obviously made with fresh limes, onion, garlic, fresh tomatoes and (I think) serranos; I can't quite hit it on the nose. Still I get rave reviews for my fresh salsas.

Thanks again!

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Thanks. This was really focused on table salsas, the condiments you add to your food. I'm not familiar with any table salsas that use stock or drippings. Many cooking salsas, such as enchilada sauce, especially in Texas, just not table salsas. Certainly doesn't mean they don't exist. Just not something I'm familiar with. I'd be interested to hear about them.

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The salsa I referred to is from Mercado Juarez. Mercado Juarez (4 in DFW area) They have been in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex for over 25 years.

They call it their signature "Warm Salsa Picante". People have tried to get the recipe but it is a "secret". It is the complimentary table salsa, served with chips.

The restaurants were mentioned in the eGullet thread [DFW] Robb Walsh Tex-Mex Book Signing and Dinner as one in the short list of the best, oldest Tex-Mex restaurants in DFW. I would agree. They have mesquite roasted cabrito, puerco, pollo, etc. so they certainly have the drippings to use.... I guess I'll have to experiment!

Thanks.  This was really focused on table salsas, the condiments you add to your food.  I'm not familiar with any table salsas that use stock or drippings.  Many cooking salsas, such as enchilada sauce, especially in Texas, just not table salsas.  Certainly doesn't mean they don't exist.  Just not something I'm familiar with.  I'd be interested to hear about them.

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Thanks. btw, if you're in the DFW area, you should check out my friend's website: http://www.dallasfood.org. I'll talk to Scott (the guy who runs that site) about it. I'm a Californian by birth and an Oregonian by choice, so the traditions are fairly different. In some ways, I'm more familiar with Mex-Mex than Tex-Mex. Maybe theabroma will pop in. She knows both quite well as a Texan.

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I think I'll try my hand at making my own salsa (I usually pick up a jar at the supermarket). 

Sorry I missed the class... sounds like I would have really enjoyed it. This comment sparked two questions (related to a project at work):

1) I assume "picking up a jar at the supermarket" is a last resort... that said, when you do buy jarred salsa, what brand do you prefer? (Why?)

2) How would you (or do you) differentiate "taco sauce" from salsa?

PS: Not sure if an "avocado cherry tomato salsa" was included in the class... I have a recipe that people have mouthgasms over. Let me know and I'll post.

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Personally, I haven't bought jarred salsa in a *long* time. Salsa is just too easy to make. Muir Glen now even has canned "fire-roasted" tomatoes which are very good for salsa making in the winter. Most grocery's Mexican/International sections will carry canned tomatillos, too, if you don't have them in produce aisle.

I will buy a simple hot sauce, like Tapatio, on occasion. And I usually keep Bufalo's chipotle sauce in the frig. But I rarely use those straight. They're generally flavor additions, like Worcestershire.

When America's Test Kitchen did tastings, they liked Old El Paso and Tostito's, among off-the-shelf salsas. However, they liked all refrigerated salsas better. Their least favorite were the Mexican brands, Herdez and Embasa. But I actually like these better than Old El Paso (I've never tried Tostito's). They have a flavor profile much closer to what Mexicans actually make and eat. Given that the ATK people are from New England, though, their taste buds aren't exactly accustomed to actual Mexican food. I generally think salsa verdes off the shelf are better than tomato salsas.

I'm sure everyone would love to have a mouthgasming recipe, btw.

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Just back from "Big D", I wanted to share my experience, especially related to salsas and my earlier comment about warm salsas.

Our most memorable experience was at Cantina Laredo, in the Lakewood shopping center area. For those not familiar, this is at 2031 Abrams just south of Gaston. El Chico (El Chico's website was founded by the Cuellar family in Dallas, in 1940, as one of the

first Tex-Mex restaurant chains in the U.S. El Chico Cafe and Cantina

Laredo are offshoots and offer more upscale contemporary Tex-Mex. This food was awsome! Guacomole, made at your table. Spinach enchiladas that were incredibly fresh. The spinach was just beyond wilted with a fine sauce, mushrooms and cheese. Everyone raved when they had a bite! The salsa was dark and warm with the burnt/roasted skin flavor. Another place (just north of Cantina Laredo, on west side of Abrams) is very new-I can't find the name, had warm salsa, as well! It was also very good food.

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