Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Part 3 of Mexican Cuisine (Salsa, Dips & Chips)

Anyone who has gone into a Mexican restaurant, at least in the USA, knows you automatically receive chips & salsa when the waitperson comes to the table.  For us it's a staple of Mexican cuisine.  Now these restaurants don't serve the same chips & salsa as everyone else.  Most try to do their spin on the dish.

Some places just serve bought corn tortilla chips.  While others fry their corn tortilla chips up fresh each day. Still others offer fry up flour tortillas to serve with their salsa.  A few offer the options of corn or flour too. Healthier establishments might even serve baked chips in place of the traditional fried ones.  Thankfully for you it's easy enough to either (fried or baked) at home.

I'll eat both but prefer the fried flour tortilla chips when I can get them.  Of course there are so many different types and styles that you can buy in grocery stores.  If I go that route, my preference is for a grocery chain in the Midwest called Hy-Vee.  They sell under their own brand, a multi-grain tortilla chip.  In my option, it's the best on the market.  At least of the ones I've been able to try.  But everyone has their favorite, so for them.

All those chips mentioned above are great by themselves but go to a whole new level when you add a salsa and/or dip.  I'll mention just a couple of dips before going to salsas.  Guacamole is classified under a dip or a salsa.  It just depends on who you ask.  I'll call it a dip for today  Another popular dip is the Rotel tomato, Velveeta and meat one.  This is considered Southwest or Texas style spicy food.  Not really Mexican.

Mexican salsa (Southwest & Tex-Mex too) is really varied in spice, taste, texture and ingredients.  First off you can have fresh or cooked salsas.  Tomatoes and Tomatillos seem to comprise the majority, but there some without either ingredient.  White onion is another stable in most salsas.  As is some kind of a chili pepper.

You can find bean salsas using mostly the pinto or black bean as they seem to be the most popular beans in Mexico.  Mango, Jicama, sweet potato, cactus, pumpkin seed and Chayote (vegetable pear) can also be found as main ingredients in a salsa.

Tomorrow's recipe is for what in Mexico is usually referred to as Classic Tomato Salsa.  It's also known as Salsa Ranchera or Salsa Mexicna but most people in the states know it as "Pico de Gallo."  It's the king of fresh salsa and has numerous variations to the recipe.  This recipe is from my friend, Chef Saul, in Cabo, Mexico.

Thursday's recipe is "Green Salsa Verde" which is green most of the time.  However, it is also made with tomatoes instead of tomatillos and then it is red.  It's good as a dip but is used more as a sauce with many dishes.  That is one other use for all salsas really.  They can be used for dipping chips, as a sauce over a burrito or as a condiment or relish to be served along side an item.

Don't forget that besides these two recipes, I have several already on this blog or in my cookbook.  In fact, the recipe for canned salsa in my cookbook has even passed the test of Hispanic individuals.  Several have commented that it is better than what their families make.  They also won't admit that to their families.  Not bad for a Gringo, I say.  Well "Happy Cooking" until next week and please share this with friends.

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