89. Fresh Tomato Salsa p.896


The recipe

I’m pleased to inaugurate the Sauces and Salsas section of The Book with this recipe. This tomato salsa is about as minimalist as salsa can be. It focuses on clean flavours, but left me wishing for a bit more complexity. It’s comprised of diced plum tomatoes, white onion, serrano chiles, cilantro, salt, and water. It’s perhaps more notable for what it lacks. No garlic, no oil, and no lime juice. The garlic is entirely optional, it’s only a standard salsa ingredient for me because I have an unhealthy infatuation with the stinking rose. In fact I didn’t particularly miss it here, and leaving it out does make the dish taste lighter and cleaner.

The lime juice is a crime against humanity though. I suppose the thinking is that tomatoes are fairly acidic, and can stand up on their own without a hit of citrus. I agree that white vinegar would have been out of place, but lime juice adds a mild acidity and a linchpin of flavour. I imagine cilantro, chiles, and lime juice as a perfectly balanced triangle. They’re the mirepoix of Latin cuisine. I hate celery, but if you leave it out of the mirepoix I’m going to notice, and resent you for it.

The salsa felt like exactly the sum of it’s parts, without melding into a comprehensive dish. I usually add lime juice and a bit of olive oil, i.e. a very simple vinaigrette, which I find ties the salsa together, and provides a medium for the flavours to mingle in.

The instructions for this recipe read

Finely chop tomatoes.

Transfer to a bowl, along with any juices.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

It’s got a haiku like simplicity, but the ingredient list doesn’t have the balance those poems strive for. There’s nothing really wrong with this recipe, but a few little additions would make it much more appealing.

5 September 2007 | Sauces and Salsas, The Book | Comments

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5 Responses to “89. Fresh Tomato Salsa p.896”

  1. 1 Nique 6 September 2007 @ 1:00 pm

    Agreed, too bland.

  2. 2 Al 6 September 2007 @ 4:21 pm

    KC once told me that all Mexican food is bland. Maybe in his old age he’s starting to lash out at those fuzzy wuzzies.

  3. 3 MJC 8 November 2007 @ 7:17 pm

    In India they make “Kachumber” which is chopped tomatoes, cucumber, dhania (coriander leaves), mirchi (those small green hot peppers) held together with nimbu juice (somewhere between a lemon and a lime). The nimbu denatures the tomato element which prevents me from eating them raw so I find it quite refreshing. Good with grilled foods and naturally, any curry.

  4. 4 KC 8 November 2007 @ 7:30 pm

    Funny, I’ve been trying to figure out what a nimbu is. It’s translated as both lemon and lime in english. Its scientific name is Citrus aurantifolia, which is the same as key lime.

  5. 5 Mexico Lover 1 November 2010 @ 7:53 am

    Sounds great! I just came back from mexico last week and find myself addicted to these incredible enchilada recipes now!! Must go back next year sometime, I suppose, and this time head off the beaten road a little. Looking to reading more!

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