Friday, September 14, 2012

A Salsa Saga

Salsas, apparently, are not for the faint of heart—or, for the faint of chopping. One must daringly place their fingers in close contact with knives, their finger nails in contact with fiery ingredients, and their eyes in the midst of tear-producing onions. Sometimes, one must even expose their lungs to stifling odors. To make a salsa one must have courage, one must be nimble, and one must prepare for the possibility of suffocation. And so begins a salsa saga.

Pico de Gallo
Light and simple, this salsa may be made in a matter of minutes. For me, the hardest part consisted of chopping the onion, tomato, cilantro, and jalapeño (be sure to wear gloves while chopping this spicy ingredient!) I found that waiting for an hour or more allowed the ingredients to marinate wonderfully together. Pico de Gallo enhances a taco or merely a tortilla chip wonderfully!

Mango Salsa
Mango Salsa is my favorite summer salsa. The lush mango serves as the perfect contrast to the crunch of the ripe cucumber and onion. Hidden beneath these juxtaposing textures lies a single tablespoon of chopped jalapeño, a tablespoon so small it merely suggests innocence in flavor. Yet, the opposite holds true. The tablespoon bursts with flavor and perfectly secretes its juices throughout the salsa, providing the perfect kick to an otherwise mild dish. Try this salsa with panko-encrusted chicken tacos!

Yucatan-Style Habanero Salsa

There are some recipes that you wish you had looked at the comment section before beginning. If I had only read cdmclean’s comment “This is not a recipe for humans…This recipe is, I kid you not, a science experiment…” (Bon Appetit online), perhaps I would have steered clear of the, so-called, science experiment. Unfortunately, however, I did not. And, so, I too embarked on the most physically exhausting and painful salsa experience of my lifetime.

The recipe called to char 25 habanero chiles in the broiler while simultaneously toasting the garlic in a dry-cast iron skillet until charred. As the chiles and garlic charred I suddenly felt my eyes begin to water. The fumes engulfed my lungs and I began coughing hysterically. The whole house filled with smoke until the blare of the fire alarm sounded. My parents ran down the stairs thinking I had started a fire. Through rattled breaths, I cried, “Everything is burning! And it’s supposed to!” My mom quickly ushered me outside and had me down a glass of water to open my lungs. If you try this recipe, I strongly suggest charring the chiles outside.

After cooling both the chiles and garlic, I commenced to unravel their crackling skins. The garlic skins glided off the cloves; however, the chiles presented a different story. Wearing gloves, I tried to elegantly peel away the skins. Instead, I ended up peeling away the entire chile. I could not find the inside in half of them. Seeds spewed out of the chiles and into the processor. I added the other ingredients into the processor and turned it on. Needless to say, after pulsating together the garlic, lime juice, salt, and measly dissected chiles, my salsa failed to form a coarse puree. Instead, it resembled a soup. And, it was incredibly HOT. The recipe did warn that the salsa was “searingly hot,” but, as a lover of spice, I never expected to drink an entire glass of water after placing a dollop of the salsa (or, soup, as it turned out in my case) onto a tortilla chip. Although the salsa did not turn out as expected, I found it quite fun to make, although, at times, quite scary. A tiny portion tasted delicious on the tacos, but I could not stomach more than a few drops at a time. But, if you like adventure, spice, and daring—this could be the perfect recipe for you!

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