You know what one of the best parts of going to an actual, real-life, brick-and-mortar Mexican restaurant is? Invariably, as is true in many parts of Mexico, you’ll have more than one salsa option. They’re fresh, they’re fascinating, they’re often sweet, spicy or smoky, and they make the rest of the meal that much more interesting.
Consider making your own home an homage to the gloriousness and variety of Mexican cuisine this Cinco de Mayo. (Remember, it’s not “Mexican Independence Day”—which is September 16th—but a celebration of a Mexican victory over France during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862.) Cinco de Mayo is largely celebrated in the USA and in the Puebla state in Mexico, where it is often called “Battle of Puebla” day. We’ll consider its history over all sorts of salsa this year. Because why stop at one or two? We have more than 80 salsa recipes on our website. Really good salsa—with fish, grilled chicken, steak, or almost anything—can straight-up transform a meal. Here’s how to think beyond chips and pico de gallo this year.
Eggs. Grilled chicken. Tacos. Even burgers, if you do ’em right. What isn’t improved by fresh tomato salsa? The traditional centerpiece of the chips and salsa party standby is worth keeping around for about a million reasons. It’s as simple as tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and serrano or jalapeño chiles, and during fresh tomato season, it’s incredible.
Bored by your salsa routine? Consider adding more heat… literally. Fire-roasted tomato salsa is as simple as throwing oil-slicked tomatoes, onions chiles and limes on to a grill. It’s so marvelous, as the heat caramelizes and deepens the tomato flavor in just the right way, taking the edge off the onion. And it works just as well on an indoor grill.
A really good blender is all you need for the fresh tomatillo salsa of your dreams. Tomatillos, white onion, plenty of cilantro, serrano chile and white onion mingle in this super-simple recipe from Chef Traci Des Jardins. (Note: green salsas like this one are often just called “salsa verde,” but they’re different from the Italian salsa verde with which they share a name.)
4. Fruit Salsa
Think about it: What’s not improved by an epic fruit salsa? Think: shrimp with pineapple and corn. Mango with a grilled, buttery white fish. Nectarines with Chinese five-spice pork, tucked into tacos. Melon with a gorgeous wild salmon fillet. Or pineapple, perhaps with grilled pork skewers. When in doubt with fruit, think: fish! But it’s enormously flexible, and if you need to mix it up, just grill it!
When was the last time you ate a really good corn salsa? When it’s in season, corn doesn’t need much beyond tomatoes, cilantro, lime and salt to become an epic foil for grilled fish, chili, or slow-cooked meats. But this recipe, featuring avocado, corn kernels that have been toasted in a pan, tomato, and smoky chipotle chiles, really does it for us.
Avocado salsa and guacamole: not the same thing. Many purists insist that “good guac” contains just avocados, lime juice, chiles, cilantro and salt. Avocado salsa, which you’ll see at many taquerias that also offer guacamole, are often green (involving tomatillos), but they can also be a mélange of related ingredients. It can be as simple as avocado salsa including garlic and onion, which is wonderful on skirt steak in these fajitas. Or you can conjoin it with its buddy mango and fresh orange juice for a piquant accompaniment to swordfish steaks. Whether you’ve got fish, steak, chicken or vegetables, there’s almost always a way to incorporate a plush avocado salsa if you’ve got the appetite.