salsa (SAL-sa) – Mexicans define a salsa as a sauce, and all sauces as salsas. In Mexico sauces are a combination of fresh ingredients in which many are uncooked and served separately, to be added according to individual tastes. Salsas can be a mixture of raw or partially cooked vegetables and/or fruits, herbs, and, of course, chiles. Anything from vegetables, fruits, and nuts, to fish and meat can be used to make salsa, as long as the flavors blend well. The combined ingredients are not a puree, but are distinct pieces, and are often uncooked. This definition would also include chutneys and fruit or vegetable relishes. If the salsa is uncooked, as in “pico de gallo,” it is referred to as salsa cruda or salsa fresca. If cooked it is usually called picante.
Many countries have similar dishes that are used to accent meals in tropical areas of the world: sambals in Indonesia, chakalaka in South Africa, chutneys from India, the fruit and chile mixes from the West Indies, and piccalillis of the American South.
It’s beautiful brightness may not come through in this picture, but trust me it shines. I have a list of foods for which I would like to find the ultimate recipe: meatballs, red sauce, cornbread, chili, barbecue sauce to name a few. We all have good ones, maybe even great ones, but I am obsessed with finding The One. Sometimes I find one I think is The One, and then I discover a new one. I think this time I truly have found my salsa.
Generally, restaurant salsa lets me down. I don’t like being given pico de Gallo when I am ordering salsa. Pico de Gallo is similar, but chunky and without liquid. Then there is the bland, the onion salsa, the no-salt salsa, and the water salsa. I do not like raw onion in my salsa. By no means am I saying what I like is authentic, I just think it tastes good. And for the love of all things keep your mango away from my salsa. You are good in my lassi, but you and chopped onions don’t a salsa make. I don’t like big chunks of tomato either, I like to taste all of the flavors together. A hunk of tomato can be a bully. Move over and let the lime in.
The Lonely Radish’s Super Salsa
3 or 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces (smell it, if you don’t want to bite it like an apple keep looking)
1/3 cup chopped pimentos or roasted red peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 Serrano pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (you can omit if you don’t like flavor)
1/4 habanero ( I had a small one) (Don’t omit!)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 tbls. chopped parsley
2 tbls. chopped cilantro
4 scallions cut into one inch pieces, white and green parts
a healthy squeeze of lime
1/2 tbls. olive oil
Pulse in food processor until evenly chopped.
You can add some chopped tomato, if you like a little bit of chunk after processing.
* Of course all ingredient amounts can be adjusted to your taste, but I think it’s a mighty fine balance.
Put it on your tacos, dip your chips in it, put it on your baked potatoes, toss it in some rice, or use it in your eggs. Omelets, scrambled, fried, with a little sour cream. Nom.
“…the Indians, tens of centuries ago, cultivated the tomato and the pepper plants and improved and developed them until the tiny hot and pungent berries of the latter had been transformed into a number of varieties of peppery fruits, and the little red sourish berries of the other had become big luscious scarlet tomatoes….Long centuries before Columbus landed on the shores of the New World, the tomato and the peppers had spread from the land of the Incas to Central America and Mexico where they were cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs who called the tomato “tomatl,” which the Spaniards under Cortez corrupted to the name by which the fruit is know to us today…Very probably they [chilies] are of real value and aid in warding off fevers and other maladies, as the natives claim, for they stimulate the digestive organs, especially the liver.”
—Foods America Gave the World, A Hyatt Verrill (p. 34-5; 37)
The Spanish first encountered the tomato after their conquest of Mexico in 1519-1521, yet few references to tomatoes have been located in Spanish colonial documents…Sahagun was the first European to make written note of “tomates.” According to Sahagun, Aztec lords combined them with chile peppers and ground squash seeds and consumed them mainly as a condiment served on turkey, venison, lobster, and fish. This combination was subsequently called “salsa” by Alonso de Molina in 1571.”
—Souper Tomatoes: The Story of America’s Favorite Food, Andrew F.Smith (p. 26-7)
“Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce–an indication of this condiment’s origin in Spanish-speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere, particularly Mexico and the countries of Central America. In these countries, the word “salsa” encompasses a wide range of culinary concoctions, from sauces that are smooth, cooked, and served warm or hot, to condiments that are chunky, raw, and served at room temperature. In the United States, the consumptino of condiment salsas began to expand beyond the local Hispanic communities during the 1940s, initially in those parts of the American Southwest wehre Mexican food was traditionally eaten. The msot common type of salsa was–and still is–a version of Mexican salsa cruda (raw sauce), also known as salsa fresca (fresh sauce) or salsa Mexicana (Mexican sauce), made with chopped tomatoes, onions, and fresh green jalapeno or serrano peppers…Salsa’s popularity nationwide is generally attributed to Americans’ increasing consumption of hot-and-spicy foods during the second half of the twentieth century…Salsa are also perceived as healthy foods, because many of them are low in calories, high in fiber, and full of vitamins.” —Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 389)
The many faces of salsa. An acronym, not just a dance or spicy love to dip your chip in.
“In Texas, salsa manufacturing began in 1947. dave and Margaret Pace operated a small food-packing operation in the back of their… store in San Antonio. They were manufacturing syryps, salad dressings, and jellies and sold their products door-to-door. Dave, by trial and error, began to make picante sauce and test it on his friends…By 1992, the top eight salsa manufacturers were Pace, Old El Paso, Frito-Lay, Chi-Chi’s, La Victoria, Ortego Herdez, and Newman’s Own…” —The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia, Dave DeWitt [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 259-60)
The Semi-Arid Land-Surface-Atmosphere (“SALSA“) Program is a multi-agency, multi-national global-change research effort that seeks to evaluate the consequences of natural and human-induced changes in semi-arid environments. Current SALSA research is focused on the upper San Pedro River basin in southeastern Arizona, USA, and northeastern Sonora, Mexico.
SALSA (Simple Actor Language System and Architecture) is a general-purpose actor-oriented programming language, especially designed to facilitate the development of dynamically reconfigurable open distributed applications. Dynamically reconfigurable open systems are useful in grid computing, mobile computing, and internet computing applications.