What is one sign of a good taqueria? The salsa, of course! Or I should use the plural and say “salsa-s”. Any decent Mexican dining establishment north of the border, whether a taco truck or full on restaurant will offer a variety of salsas to its patrons—tomatillo salsa verde, red chili salsa, and my favorite, a fresh tomato salsa otherwise knows as Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca.
It’s easy to make, you just need chopped up fresh tomatoes, chiles, onions, cilantro, some lime juice, and seasonings. Use it as a dip for tortilla chips or serve it with tostadas, tacos, or my favorite, alongside steak and pinto beans.
Because this particular salsa is made with fresh ingredients, it will last as long as you would expect cut fresh tomatoes to last. It’s best eaten right after you make it, chilled it should last about 5 days or so.
When using fresh chile peppers always taste first before adding! Some peppers are hotter than others and you really can’t tell unless you taste them. Just take a very small taste. You’ll be able to gauge the heat of the pepper and will be better able to judge how much you need.
۲-۳ medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed
۱/۲ red onion
۲ serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile (stems, ribs, seeds removed), less or more to taste
Juice of one lime
۱/۲ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of dried oregano (crumble in your fingers before adding), more to taste
Pinch of ground cumin, more to taste
۱ Start by roughly chopping the tomatoes, chiles, and onions. Be very careful while handling the chile peppers. If you can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands. (I often use disposable gloves or hold the peppers with a plastic sandwich bag.) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for more heat.
۲ Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times, just enough to finely dice the ingredients, not enough to purée. If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely dice by hand.
۳ Place in a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add a little more ground cumin.
Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.
Serve with chips, tortillas, tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, pinto or black beans.