I thought Norwegians ate dried fish soaked in beer, but my Norwegian Artist has a taste for hot stuff — Thai stir fry with flames emitting from the platter, salsa that kicks your taste buds across the room and pins them against the wall.
If you’ve purchased salsa for a person like this, you know that the big plastic jug of picante sauce just doesn’t cut it, but in order to get the heat the man craves, I’m forced to put down good money that could be better spent on a skein of fine sock yarn from inner Mongolia.
Yeah, I could can my own, but I hate canning — something about 110 degree temperatures and standing over a steaming pot — but fortunately, I discovered that custom making your own salsa isn’t that difficult; it takes very little time; it’s cheap; and you can put something together in less than five minutes. Any extra time is letting the salsa steep, like tea.
The “secret” — I really hate using that word; it reminds me of those, Any Idiot’s Secret to Making a Million Dollars in Six Months books — is a can of diced tomatoes. If it’s not July and you don’t have exotic heirlooms flourishing in your garden, the commercial canned product really isn’t bad. Canned tomatoes are so cheap, that you won’t spend much more getting the organic version, and since there aren’t many ingredients in the salsa, you benefit by this maxim:
The fewer ingredients in a dish, the better they should be.
Oops, I used the word “should,” which I generally don’t, but every so often it comes in handy.
Here’s my recipe — if you don’t have everything in the pantry, you won’t have trouble finding the necessary ingredients in the grocery store; adjust the optional amounts depending on your preference for heat and cilantro:
Recipe: Fast, Cheap, Simple, Fresh, HOT Salsa
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz or so)
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1-4 jalapeno chiles, chopped finely. The heat is in the seeds and membrane, so if you don’t use these, you’ll have a milder salsa (you might want to wear gloves while you work with these; if you don’t, do not touch your eyes or face until you have washed off the chiles’ oil from your hands).
1/4 – 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (you know, you’ve got to acquire a taste for this particular herb, but it’s really worth trying. The first three times I ate food with cilantro in it, I hated it; the next three times, I tolerated it; the seventh time, I inhaled it. Salsa without cilantro just isn’t the same thing.)
2 Tablespoons garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons Lime or Lemon Juice (lime tastes better)
Mix it all together in a bowl, cover, and set the bowl in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld.
That’s it. Hot, fiery, fresh salsa for little more than a can of tomatoes, and definitely less than what you pay for a little jar of something that promises to be, but may or may not be. If you want to go even hotter, buy a hotter chile.
Experiment — the local Mexican restaurant has ribboned cabbage in their salsa, but the primary ingredients you don’t want to do without are the tomatoes, onion, hot peppers, and . . . cilantro.