I can bang out this fresh salsa and guacamole in the time it takes to light the charcoal, get it goin’ good and grill my carne asada!
It’s a good idea to use really good tomatoes and break them down into “sides” – that way you can make an almost perfect dice and loose the liquid and all the seeds. It makes for a prettier salsa, refined and reconstructed. In fine dining, it’s called a tomato concassé, although I leave the skin on. Don’t make this in a food processor, do it by hand with your best knife on a big, clean cutting board.
6 or 8 nice medium-size tomatoes
1 medium-sized white onion
2 jalapeño peppers
2 Serrano peppers
4 medium cloves of garlic
The juice from 3 limes
½ bunch cilantro
S and P
1. Break down all the tomatoes into sides with a super-sharp knife (drain the tops, the seeds and the tomato liquid in a sieve over a bowl to save the tomato water, and use it as a chaser for a tequila shot). Cut the tomato sides into julienne. Rotate the julienne, keeping them skin side down and dice. Perfect little squares of tomato. Tomato concassé, with skin on. Nothin’ to it. Put the tomato dice in a big metal bowl.
2. Wash and dry the peppers and use them raw, or, if your grill grate is hot, grill the peppers over direct heat to char the skins, then let them cool slightly. Take off the tops and get rid of the seeds. Make a fine dice of the peppers, smaller than the tomatoes. Add them to the bowl.
3. Perfectly dice the white onion, about the same size as the tomatoes. Add them to the bowl.
4. Wash, dry and pick over the cilantro (again – no yellow or brown leaves or stems). Mince the leaves and tender stems. Add them to the bowl.
5. Crush the garlic into a paste with some salt (use the back of your big knife or two forks). You really should almost liquefy the garlic. Add the paste to the bowl.
6. Carefully toss everything together in the bowl. Add the fresh lime juice (you may not need all of it) and plenty of salt and pepper (eyeball about a tablespoon in the palm of your hand, and taste as you go).
Get it into a pretty bowl and use a slotted spoon to serve to your guests at your burrito or taco party. Also very good for scrambled egg and bacon breakfast burritos!
It’s (almost) a raw food, but won’t last long – it gets mushy and starts to go sour after a day or two – so use it all and whip up a fresh batch whenever you need fresh salsa.
4 nice, ripe avocados
½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic
The juice of a 1 lemon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Best-quality extra virgin olive oil
S and P
I make this by hand with a potato masher, but you can use a food processor for a smoother guac.
Prepare the avocados by halving them, pitting them and scooping out the flesh with a decent spoon into a big metal bowl. Crush the garlic into a paste (again, more like liquefy it with some salt), add it to the avocados, along with plenty of S and P, the cumin, the lemon juice, finely chopped cilantro and a little olive oil. Use a potato masher to bring it all together as a chunky spread and serve it in a pretty bowl with a small spoonchula. Also very good with tortilla chips.