You can think of this salsa as a not-too-smooth, fresh version of your typical rusty-orange hot sauce—fresh chiles replace dried ones, fresh lime juice replaces vinegar. The roastiness of the fresh chiles adds sweet richness, plus a powerhouse of heat should you choose a chile like cayenne or habanero. The not-too-hot jalapeño is a good chile to start with, as you're getting to know this approach to salsa; its natural, juicy sweetness makes a salsa that's well rounded and utterly delicious—a favorite of market stall cooks in Guadalajara. In its pure simplicity (no additions, no riffs), this salsa is one of Rick Bayless's favorites, too.
More Great Salsa Recipes
4 ounces fresh hot green chiles (about 4 medium jalapeños, 16 medium serranos, 2 medium hot banana/Hungarian wax or 12 medium green or yellow-orange habaneros—really any small hot chile)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
How to Make It
Turn on the broiler and adjust the rack to its highest level. Break the stems off the chiles, cut them in half lengthwise and lay them, cut-side down, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the garlic cloves among the chiles. Slide under the broiler and roast until the chiles are soft and blotchy black in places, about a minute or two. Scrape into a blender or food processor and add the lime juice and 1/4 cup water. Process until nearly smooth. Pour into a salsa dish and thin with a little additional water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Taste (cautiously) and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate (for up to 5 days) if not using right away.
Spicy Steak and Potatoes: For two lovers of green chile spiciness, cut two medium-large (10 to 12 ounces total) red-skin potatoes into quarters, scoop into a microwaveable bowl, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave until tender (about 4 minutes). Prepare your charcoal or gas grill—you want the fire medium hot. Smear 1/2 of the salsa (best made with jalapeños for this preparation) over your favorite steak—I like 10 to 12 ounces of ribeye. Lay steak and potatoes on the grill (I put the potatoes in a grill basket) and cook until as done as you like, turning from time to time.
Copyright 2005, Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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