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Jan 17, 2011 08:44 AM

Best Salsa in the World

Here's the thread to post descriptions of the best salsa(s) you've ever encountered. They can be restaurant salsas, store-bought, your own personal concoctions...whatever.

For me, three spring immediately to mind.

The first is a simple salsa made from pureed, pickled jalapenos adulterated with a little salt and perhaps a bit of garlic powder. I used to eat this at a local resto called La Cumbre. Have tried to make it at home, but oddly enough, it is just not the same.

Another marvelous one is a finely pureed habanero salsa produced at another local joint called Cancun. It's got a bit of cilantro in it, but I'm not sure what else. All I know is that it is extremely hot and even more delicious.

And last but not least is my own personal salsa. I puree four fresh jalapenos, one chipotle and a half cup of pickled jalapenos. I then stir in 1 1/2 t. of garlic powder, 1 t. of salt, 1 t. of sugar and 2 1/2 t. of two different pepper sauces. Currently, I'm using Matouk's and African Rhino Peri-Peri. This is a very hot salsa, but everybody raves about it.

PS--Bonus question: do you prefer your salsas thin, chunky or somewhere in between? I'm extremely partial to pureed salsas. Just dip in the chip and let the luscious stuff cling.

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  1. speaking of pureed - I have spoken of this before. Llajwa (pronounced "Lyah-wha") is a bolivian puree of a large whole onion, couple of medium size tomatoes, 2-3 garlic cloves, a handful of parsley, handful of cilantro, and (i've determined) any hot chili peppers you like. The flavor of the onion is so strong that the taste doesn't change much pepper to pepper, just the heat does. Oh, and a copious amount of salt. Puree in blender - voila! it's pretty soupy, as it's not originally meant for scooping up with chips, but I use it on/with everything.

    Love the idea of that pureed habanero salsa. do you think it's got vinegar? (coincidentally, you've mentioned two "local" places that have the same name as places local to me here in SF (Cancun and La Cumbre) - but they are pretty common names...

    2 Replies
    1. re: mariacarmen

      The llajwa sounds tremendous. May have to give it a go one day.

      And, yes, I suspect the habanero salsa is thinned with some sort of vinegar. It is extremely thin, no thicker than canned tomato sauce.

      1. re: mariacarmen

        This is very similar, IIRC, to the 'salsa' recipe on the pioneer woman website (I think she uses canned tomatoes though). I thought the onion was overwhelming, but the boyfriend could not stop eating it. He usually likes chunkier stuff, but he begged me to make that one constantly last summer.

      2. Your use of garlic powder is interesting - I always use fresh garlic in mine. Sometimes I like to add some dry roasted then reconstituted chipotle for a hit of smokiness. The peppers from our garden are always used (i.e. jalapeno, cayenne, Thai - lots more). Aside from the usual delicious savoury salsas I like to make strawberry, mango, etc. with fresh mint.

        The texture I prefer would have to be sort of middle of the road; not huge chunks but not pureed, either; I like a blend of small chunks and smooth sauce almost. Same when I make soups - I often puree half the batch and leave half chunky for an interesting texture contrast.

        1. I rarely come across a salsa that I don't like.

          But as to your bonus question, I definitely prefer my salsa chunky. Why? Because I like to eat my salsa more like a stand-alone dish than a condiment. Pureed salsa reminds me too much of gazpacho -- nothing wrong with that, but somehow I'm just partial to forks I guess.

          25 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I make my gazpacho chunky, also salsas such as mango & red onion, and pineapple & chipotle for pork, chicken, and fish. Pico de gallo needs little chunks, too. High octane chili sauces like habanero for chip dipping or egg dishes should be pureed or finely minced.

            1. re: Veggo

              High octane chili sauces like habanero for chip dipping or egg dishes should be pureed or finely minced.



              1. re: ipsedixit


                so continuing in this vein, I too like a chunky salsa for chip dipping - pico de gallo is not good when it's too watery. the puree i described above can go either way, chunky or more liquidy. just add more or less tomato.

                and speaking of high octane, i recently made my llajwa with ghost peppers, one of the newer hot-hot-hottest. i removed the seeds and the little ridges (i know, wimp), and in the salsa it was no hotter than a serrano! although when i tasted it on its own, it did burn my tongue for like 10 minutes.

                1. re: mariacarmen

                  Wow - I have not yet tried ghost peppers but really want to.

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Any experience with the Naga Viper pepper (it's about 300,000 Scoville units hotter than the Ghost Pepper and is the hottest pepper in the world at the moment).

                    I'm interested to hear how it holds up for flavor and not just heat.

                    1. re: Strangewine

                      I'd love to hear of firsthand experiences with Naga Viper as well.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    The pureed habanero salsa at La Tarraya in Playa del Carmen has been bringing grown men to the ground and flopping around like mackerels for 22 years now.
                    I recommend you try it.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      You do realize that I munch of raw ginger just for fun, right?

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I brush my teeth 3 times daily, with wasabi paste.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          I floss with the fibrous ends of horseradish root.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I snort cayenne through a soda straw right out of the jar.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              I don't even use a straw.

                              I do lines.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                i'm now afraid of what other orifices with what other implements (or not) may be utilized with what other caustic substances that may be described here ...

                                eta: afraid yet morbidly curious!

                      2. re: Veggo

                        Do they deliver?

                        PS--Another note about salsa--and this may be obvious--but it should always be room temperature or even slightly warm. Cold salsa is a real downer, and that's a slight problem with store-bought salsa because it must be refrigerated after opening. I suppose if you have a Chernobyl in your kitchen it's no big deal, but we don't.

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          Both storebought and homemade can be removed from the fridge in advance of using. And even MWd if that floats your boat.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            I couldn't agree more, especially if the salsa has tomatoes in it. Nothing like something being too cold to kill it's flavors. Save that for things you don't want to taste - like Coors Light.

                            And, for my own satisfaction, I submit that jarred/canned salsas are an abomination. To me, they're like baked potato chips, frozen pizza, etc. - pale, inedible, and unworthy substitutes. I'd rather just eat chips with chiles.

                            1. re: MGZ

                              I tend to agree with you on jarred salsas. I occasionally happen upon one that is surprisingly good, but these are usually some obscure product manufactured in somebody's barn several miles outside of Carizozo. The big name-brand salsas are worthless and dull, and the last thing a salsa should be is dull.

                              I do have a soft spot for Totino's frozen pizza, however. ;)

                              1. re: MGZ

                                When I don't have what I need to make salsa, I just opt out of the genre and use Cholula and the like. There are some fresh ones at the store that are alright but, good grief, they cost.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Yep. Give me a bottle of hot sauce over a jar of salsa anytime.

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    definitely have a stock of hot sauces on hand. actually use them more than salsa. The one I use most often is called "Mayan Sauce, XXXtra Hot Sauce, Salsa Kutbil-ik' de El Yucateco, Chili Habanero." It's the brown one, tho i like the green one too, which i think only has one "X". Also like Tapatio, and green Tabasco (not for heat, just for flavor.) And sometimes you just need a shot of Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce.

                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                      "Mayan Sauce, XXXtra Hot Sauce, Salsa Kutbil-ik' de El Yucateco, Chili Habanero"

                                      Recently purchased this as a b-day present for my brother who is 500 miles away in Houston. It currently resides in my pantry. If he doesn't come soon for a visit, he may just miss out altogether.

                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        Love the chipotle Tobasco also. Gotta look for that Mayan Sauce.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          aren't you East Bay, C Oliver? they sell it all over the Mission in SF.

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            Tahoe but daughter lives in SF. We have a great Latino store in Reno. Also planning a trip to Ikea in W. Sacto soon. Lots of medium size nets :)

                      3. Jalapenos (never pickled; what's THAT all about???), Roma tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and about a teaspoon of oil, s&p. Like to make it several hours ahead of time. Chunky but not large chunks.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: c oliver

                          pickled jalapenos are really good on a bacon-wrapped hot dog - like relish, but spicy.

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            I completely agree with that. My issue was using pickled jalapenos in pico de gallo.

                          2. re: c oliver

                            c oliver - the oil intrigues me. about a tsp in about how much salsa? olive oil or a light veg oil?

                            1. re: AreBe

                              I'm not at home this week but I'll estimate. A cup of chopped jalapenos, a cup of chopped tomatoes, ??? amount of red onion, 6T of cilantro?, s&p and a tsp. of veg oil. I'm kinda guessing that it just provides something for the other juices to mix with. Like a salad dressing. An 86 y.o. friend gave us the recipe 20 or 25 years ago. It's just so fresh tasting.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Checked with Bob the pico de gallo maker in the family. A cup of red onion. And I totally forgot about the lime juice - 1/4 cup. Sorry about that.

                              2. re: AreBe

                                I go with a little EVOO on my salsa some times to give it a smoother mouthfeel. You want just enough to lube up the salsa, not so much that it tastes oily or anything. If you can easily tell there's oil in it, it's too much.

                            2. I make a tomatillo salsa with cilantro and diced onion and lime juice and a little cumin and garlic, and puree until just chunky; not liquified, but spoonable; then I toss in chunks of avocado, and taste for salt. Sometimes I do dice in a finely-minced pickled jalapeno at the end.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mamachef

                                "Sometimes I do dice in a finely-minced pickled jalapeno at the end."

                                Deviant! ;)

                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  I yam what I yam, and it's all I khan be. : )
                                  and by the way, that one is awesome on any plain grilled or bbq'd fish or prawns on skewers..or licked off bare toes, deviant yourself. : D