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Need help with my Salsa recipe.....

Hello everyone....I have been trying to perfect a Salsa recipe and am having trouble. Wanted to see if anyone could help with their own recipe or suggest what I am missing. I like my salsa very cilantro and garlic tasting. Here is what I am using....any suggestions or recipes out there?? Thanks for your help

white onion
minced fresh garlic
diced tomatoes
jalepeno pepper
olive oil

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  1. I add vinegar or fresh lime juice. Looks like you need something with some tang in it. I've never added oil or sugar either.

    1. At first your list looks like a pico de gallo recipe, but that wouldn't have olive oil. I agree with the comment about lime juice. I'd ditch the oil and sugar and add the lime juice.

      The biggest key to good salsa: good tomatoes. I don't know what part of the country you're in, but this time of year any farmer's market should have good ones (the tomatoes at most grocery stores are picked before ripe and bred for shipping, not flavor). Get the freshest tomatoes you can find. DO NOT REFRIGERATE, that will kill the flavor of the tomato. The tomato quality will make s huge difference.

      1. No olive oil, no sugar and no cumin. Basic salsa cruda is usually made from fresh tomatowa, white onion (run under cold water to tame the "bite"), minced serrano or jalapeno (or both) chile, minced cilantro, salt and may or may not have garlic depending on the cook. If it is too thick add cold water a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want. Once you get the basic recipe worked out to your taste, then you can customize it with add ins, or change up the chiles and used smoked or dried to change the flavor profile.

        1 Reply
        1. Agree with no oil nor sugar. I've never seen it in a salsa recipe. Nor have I seen water added, since tomatoes and onion have lots of that. Cumin is a taste preference.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mojoeater

            You need some acid in your salsa, and I think you must use lime juice and ditch the sugar. If your tomatoes are not the most flavorful, you can concentrate their flavor by oven roasting them or charring them using a dry cast iron skillet. In fact, one of my favorite salsas that I make (as opposed to a raw pico) includes garlic cloves, halved and roughly seeded tomatoes, chunks of jalapenos and serranos, and chunks of white onion, all of which I char in cast iron. This takes about twenty minutes over medium heat with a gas stove. I then blend these things with an immersion blender in a tall bowl with high sides, adding cilantro, salt, and lime juice to my desired degree of chunkiness. You can use the exact same procedure to make tomatillo salsa, substiting tomatillos for the tomatoes.

            And I agree with DiningDiva that it is good to play around with different fresh, smoked or dried chilies. With Hatch chilies out now, you should take advantage of them. Try roasting them before adding to salsa.

            1. re: diva360

              Depends on the tomatoes too. Some varieties have higher acid (don't know them by name, just taste them first). I agree with the lime juice. It's a staple in good Mexican flavor profiles. But it's easy to over do it, make sure you taste as you go.

            2. re: mojoeater

              Mojoeater, the water trick was in a salsa recipe from one of Diana Kennedy's first cookbooks, either Essentials of Mexican Cuisine or The Art of Mexican Cooking. I couldn't believe it either the first time I read the recipe, so I had to make it. I followed the recipe accurately, and I was surprised that at the end the salsa did need a little more liquid. Adding more lime juice would have made it to acidy and not adding water left it too much like pico. You don't use a lot, just enough to loosen it up a bit. The recipe I was using (and still use today) yields about 1 1/2 cups, so adding 1 tbl. of cold water isn't really adding much. I should have been a little bit more clear, however, in that the water is an optional ingredient used to adjust the density of the product to make it more salsa like and less pico-ish.

            3. Agree with other posters that you could use lime juice and that good tomatoes are essential. You might also consider using a bit of green onion in lieu of some of your white onion. Fresh ground pepper would be good too.

              1. You may have heard the popular mantra in cooking that I think applies to salsa very well, "If it grows together, it goes together." Consider the produce from a particular area in Mexico by looking at recipes online that feature a region name (google: Oaxaca or Vera Cruz or Yucatan and salsa to see what comes up) you'll find some more ideas for ingredients to use, especially different kinds of peppers (and to avoid, like olive oil).

                1 Reply
                1. re: sgwood415

                  You'll also find that garlic is not always an ingredient in salsa.

                2. Thanks everyone!!! I made it again minus the sugar and oil. Much, much better. Thanks for your help!!

                  1. Now that you've gotten it the way you like it, how about trying red onion instead of the white (see if you like it -- I think it's fantastic) and try adding in some grilled/charred corn, or (for a *different* salsa) some mango! I lived in Colombia for years and played around with all of the luscious produce trying different salsas every week.

                    1. I agree with sqwood: Tomatoes are the key. Feh on store-bought reds. I suggest ripe heirlooms; they're a bit more $, but their powerful, tomatoey flavor blows away store-bought reds. I've found them at farmer's markets (when in season), Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or usually any food store offering organic produce. To make salsa outside tomato season, then go with canned whole reds.

                      One option for salsa is slow roasting the ingredients: Tomatoes, garlic, onion, peppers, Preheat oven to 225 deg F. Layer a sheet pan with foil and coat it with olive oil and dust it with kosher salt. Core, seed and quarter the tomatoes. Trim the woody ends off peeled garlic cloves, then smash but do not mince; or, if using whole garlic heads, cut them in half parallel with the bottom of the head and brush each open face with oil and dust with salt. Medium dice the red peeled and cored onion. Stem, seed and core the peppers (jalapeno or serrano; both are good, and I would add a pasilla), remembering to remove the white inner membrane. Lay these ingredients on the oiled foil and toss to coat, adding more oil and salt to taste.

                      Place pan in oven and roast for at least 12 hours, preferably 18. Check occasionally for burning, and flip the veg every several hours. Remove from heat and place in non-reactive bowl.

                      The flavors are now highly concentrated and your salsa will be the better for it. Finish your salsa as you usually do.