Monday, May 19, 2014

Salsa cruda, guacamole

Salsa cruda
Salsa fresca
Pico de gallo

Surprise, they're all the same thing. But I like the cognitive "crude" so I'm going with that. It also means "hangover," same as English "I got the crud," and "raw" and "harsh" and "stark" and the like. Because the salsa is basic. Nothing to it at all.

There is no good reason why you would ever buy a prepared salsa now that you know. What a regrettable rip off to sell it. Salsa can never be as great as you make with fresh ingredients. And I mean great. It makes me sad to see all those jars. I bought one recently and confirmed, it is so wrong to do that with fresh ingredients and pass it off as food. It must be consumed the same day. It does not store, it does not refrigerate well.

Tomato, onion, serrano chiles diced finely to fit on a chip, that is the basis, then lime salt and pepper. Finally whole leaf cilantro. I can end the post right here.

For guacamole simply add avocado to salsa cruda and smash with a fork leaving chunks.

Do not process to smoothness as people do. You must overthink this to get it wrong. It is that simple.

Oddly, avocado does not outweigh the other ingredients in guacamole. This is where most people go wrong. Whatever amount you are making, think 50% avocado / 50% tomato by weight and you will produce the best guacamole you ever tasted.

There is no garlic in original salsa cruda. That is a gringo addition. 

From The Fort pg.17  
Regarding Cilantro:
Many people recommend mincing cilantro. I find that the good coriander flavor disappears when it is chopped, so I always pull the leaves off the stems and use them whole. I think it makes for a better flavor. But cilantro is a strong flavor and is an acquired taste for many people, so it has the ability to ruin an otherwise completely palatable dish for those who don't like it.  
I think that, in a perfect world, cilantro would be as common in this country as lettuce.
It is that common around here. And cheap as can be too. I grow it by the boatload on my own terrace but only because I like watching it grow. There is no other point in bothering.

Some people like the back-of-the-mouth hotness of jalapeños. I think they're like a llghted charcoal briquette in the throat. I love pickled jalapeño chiles, but in salsa cruda, I prefer the slim green serrano's taste and "bee-bite" front-of-the-mouth hotness.
I did not know that. Serrano it will be from here on out.

3 large firm tomatoes (+4 avocados if making guacamole)
6 serrano chiles (less for guacamole)
1/4 large white onion (more for guacamole) 
6 sprigs cilantro (more for guacamole to 1/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 lime juiced (less for guacamole)

Obviously vary the serrano or jalapeño to suit your own tolerance for heat. Consider having cilantro leaves on the side because there are deep anticilantrophobes roaming among us. Incomprehensible, but they insist it is based on scientific biological fact.

I must add there is a downside to being so ace at making the best guacamole your people ever tasted. They do say so. You will be called upon to make it repeatedly and in large amounts. It might even be the sole reason you are invited. You will be pulled aside to fix other peoples' screwed up preparations when they mistakenly add too much lime or whatever, and there will be nothing to do but start over.

The thing that distinguishes my own versions from others I've tasted, besides leaving chunks, is the addition of cumin and coriander (seed of same plant as cilantro), two spices in scant amount that yell rather loudly, "Mexico!" 

Incidentally, I attained my winning recipe at an early age from a Spanish textbook where I learned:

tomato - tomate
avocado - aguacate
onion - cebolla
garlic - ajo
sour cream - crema agria
dice finely - trocea finamente
hard boiled egg - huevo duro
cumin - comino

Pico de gallo - beak (or peck) of the rooster  
salsa fresca - fresh sauce 
mole - mass, pile, bulk, sauce (in Mexico)  so guacamole really should be aguacatemole if language were logical but there you go, a contraction of sorts.

* my versions with more words and more photos.


Synova said...

I'm on the "no cilantro" side of it all and I don't think it's a taste I could "acquire."

It's not just a little unpleasant, it's, oh-gah-wahts-inmymouth-ptewie-ptewie unpleasant.

Trooper York said...

I once made a mistake and used cilantro instead of parsley when making stuffed mushrooms. It came out great. At least to my taste.

Trooper York said...

Of course I make it with flavorful bread crumbs and a shitpot full of cheese so that tempered the taste.

edutcher said...

The Blonde loves guacamole, but you'd have to take out the peppers for her.

She's got GERD almost as bad as I do.

ricpic said...

In the spirit of salsa and guacamole:

"Get that horse! Shoot him! SHOOT HIM!

The horse got away."

"The horse?"

"Well, these people are very superstitious."

Last lines of VIVA ZAPATA.

Darcy said...


Sadly, we don't get very good fresh tomatoes in Michigan (I mean they are just tasteless and nasty) except for very briefly in the summer, so I do buy pre-made salsa often, but when the tomatoes are good...YES.

Make it fresh.

AllenS said...

The best tomatoes that I can find here in WI are the "on the vine" tomatoes.

Darcy said...

That's what I buy too, Allen. Sometimes they are ripe and taste like tomatoes. :)

Darcy said...

I remember toasting bread and slathering it with mayo and then adding nice, big slices of tomato seasoned with dill, salt and pepper. I haven't had a tomato sandwich in such a long time. I miss real tomatoes.

Gosh this is a miserable tomato whine. Sorry Chip.

AllenS said...

I like to take the vine and snap it. The smell is wonderful. Makes the tomatoes taste better.

Darcy said...

I will try that, Allen.

Chip Ahoy said...

Maybe, just maybe maybe in a dire tomato dearth, sun-dried tomatoes, perhaps reconstituted, perhaps with tequila even if you are feeling a bit crazy. Worth a try anyway.

Or hothouse tomatoes that tend to lack taste buttressed with tomato paste to compensate for their shortcomings.

Chip Ahoy said...

Also, I know you won't like this idea, but that is one thing Whole Foods is good for. They usually have a very nice and thoughtful selection of vegetables including tomatoes.

Darcy said...

I rarely shop Whole Foods, but not because I don't like the store. It's just very much out of my way. I will go out of my way for good tomatoes though, so I will give them a look. Thanks!

AllenS said...

No Whole Foods where I live. The best thing that I have going for me, is the fact that I can eat just about anything. Except cooked onions. Yuck. Raw onion? Yes.

rcocean said...

The world is divided between those who like Cilantro and those who have no taste - Aristotle (translated by Rcocean)

rcocean said...

It is best to use fresh Salsa - the day it was made.

But being both poor and lazy, I use the bottled stuff for my breakfast. Being a frugal East Asian - Mrs Rc, skips breakfast or has noodles or rice. We are Man and wife - but separated by Breakfast.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rabel said...

I've been thinking of starting a blog to compete with Chip's. It would be called "Things wot I made then threw in the garbage or fed to the dog because I sometimes suck as a cook."

I can see a lot of potential. Should have about one entry a week.

I need grape leaves. The Kroger has an empty space where their grape leaves should be. I asked a month ago and the nice, smiling Kroger guy promised to take care of it. Still no grape leaves.

I could go to the other side of town and find some but I don't need them that bad so I ordered a 2 pound jar off Amazon. I got a message today - damaged in transit, will not be delivered. That must have been a hellofa mess for somebody. I laughed and now I feel bad about laughing at someone's misfortune. Not real bad though.

Rabel said...

Damn. My research shows that cilantro is coriander. I did not know that. Who authorized this! Why was I not informed!

However, I feel better knowing that I am more fully informed than Ira Glass. I bet he doesn't know about the cilantro scam either.

chickelit said...

Rabel wrote: I need grape leaves. The Kroger has an empty space where their grape leaves should be. I asked a month ago and the nice, smiling Kroger guy promised to take care of it. Still no grape leaves.

I made stuffed grape leaves (dolmas) today. I picked them off the vine, rinsed them and then parboiled them. They worked great. The stuffing was so so: rice, pine nuts, onion, dill, parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil. Next time I think I'll add a little feta cheese.

Unknown said...

Cilantro is perfect with Mexican dishes. Love it.

Last summer I ended the season by making a batch of fresh basil pesto. Standard recipe. Basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, parm cheese. It tasted like soap.

Synova said...

"Things wot I made then threw in the garbage or fed to the dog because I sometimes suck as a cook."

Oh my dog, you've been in my house.

Fr Martin Fox said...


That's me, sorry Chip.

Otherwise, sounds delicious.

Unknown said...

You wanna hear something really controversial, pathetic, sad and whiney?

I'm allergic to avocado.

I love avocado but it turns my stomach into a pain filled razor blade ball of ouchy.

Michael Haz said...

I've ordered the book.

And I'm checking back issues of Popular Mechanics for the build your own greenhouse article so I can raise fresh tomatoes three seasons.

chickelit said...

@Haz: You could always just move to FLA in the winter.

Unknown said...

There is nothing better than a vine ripe, home grown garden tomato.

chickelit said...

There is nothing better than a vine ripe, home grown garden tomato.

Yes, and I've got little green ones already. They loved that heat spell and all the extra CO2 and fertilizer ash.

Rabel said...

April, we call the good ones slicin' tomatoes down here. That could be local or regional.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Am I the only one who peels the skin off my tomatoes when I slice them? My mother always did that, and it does taste better.

Actually, I don't always, but if I have time, I do.

Chip Ahoy said...

Cilantro is used a lot in Thai cooking too.

You can plant whole coriander seeds from the grocery store spice rack and grow cilantro.

Also, each seed is actually two seeds. They grow double plants. When you buy seeds from a seed store you can get them already split. Split seeds tend to germinate faster.

That tells you to smash your seeds a little bit to get them to break apart if you want them to go faster. Otherwise they can shoot up irregularly.

Trooper York said...

I boil tomatoes and then slide the skin off. I use that to prepare my sauce instead of canned stuff. Grandma never used canned stuff. Ever.

Boil them, skin them and dice them.

Just do that with some nice plum tomatoes. Add a little garlic and a bay leaf. Maybe a little salt and a half a teaspoon of sugar. Red pepper flakes.

Throw in some fresh basil about two minutes before you finish.

Serve over angel hair.

A quick and tasty simple sauce.

rcocean said...

Great recipe Trooper, but where's the beef?

I'm a carnivore.

BTW, most Thai dishes also use fresh basil. Sehr Gut!

rcocean said...

Yellow Curry, chicken, fresh basil, bamboo shoots, and some onion over brown rice.

Good Americanized Thai. Ole!