I love chips and salsa, tacos with salsa, eggs with salsa, burritos with salsa. And although getting it from the jar is easy, making your own is not only easy the taste is so much better. The vegetables are fresh and bright and the you can easily adjust both the heat and the amount of tomato (sometimes I find jar salsas have far too much tomato.
Pico de Gallo is a pretty simple recipe as far as cooking goes, but in terms of technique it is good practice for both chopping and mincing.
Chopping: “Trim and peel the food as needed and cut into manageable chunks so that there is a flat surface to put on the cutting board. Then use the knife tip to cut strips lengthwise. The space between these cuts will be the width of your pieces. Cut the strips crosswise to make small pieces. Put downward pressure on the knife as you work.” – How to Cook Everything Cook Book
– Hold the sides of the food to steady them.
– Tip for onions: Cut the onion in half from the tip to the tip. Then, cut only one tip off and peel back the first two layers of the onion keeping the skin attached to the bottom tip that wasn’t cut off. Cut lengthwise cuts into the onion (from tip to tip). Starting from the cut off tip end, cut opposite of the lengthwise cuts you just made, put the tip of the blade against the board and rock the knife through the onion.
– Tip for tomatoes: First cut out the stem with a paring knife. Then using the middle of the blade press through the tomato cut four or five big slices. Take each slice separately and hold the sides while cutting lengthwise strips. Then, place the strips diagonally to your knife. Place the tip of the knife against the board, while holding the strips together rock the knife through the tomato. Repeat for all slices.
Mincing: For mincing you want to chop the chopped pieces until they are teeny. Once you have chopped something you want to continue to rock your knife through rotating from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock on the cutting board only. Put everything back in a pile with your knife and continue rocking your knife through. You may want to hold the tip of the knife with your free hand and this will help steady.
– Tips for jalapenos: The heat from the jalapeno comes from the seeds, so if you want less heat take out the seeds before chipping and mincing. The heat from the jalapeno sticks to hands and utensils, so if you plan on cutting other things you might want to save the jalapeno for last as to not transfer the heat. Also, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards, or you can wear gloves. Usually, you can smell the heat of the jalapeno when you slice it open, try to judge how much you want to use depending, and make sure you taste it. The longer the salsa sits in the fridge the more the heat will disperse.
Pico de Gallo
4 large tomatoes
1 medium onion chopped
1 or 2 hot green chiles (like jalapeno)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime
some salt and pepper
1. Chop the tomatoes, onion and cilantro
2. Mince the garlic and jalapeno
3. Add all the ingredients in a bowl and addsomesaltandpepper to taste.
Serve on tacos or with chips!
Tip: You can make this a smoother salsa (less chunky) if you put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend to the consistency you like. No need to chop or mince, simply cut the tomatoes and onion into big chunks to help the blade go through them.