Zero-mile means that the produce used in this recipe has travelled just a few steps, from my backyard to the kitchen. A few of my early posts covered the four most basic Mexican salsas, redolent of tradition in the Mexican kitchen: a la Mexicana, green, red and guacamole. For this salsa, since I am using ingredients just harvested in my garden beds, I decided to combine elements from my raw green salsa and cooked red salsa with tomatoes recipes. In this way, I could keep some ingredients raw to feature their freshness, while roasting others to bring out their aroma, and add an extra layer of flavour from the charred components. I also decided to leave salt out, to preserve the salsa from any substance alien to my backyard, but of course it may (and should) be added later, to taste.
Zero-Mile Salsa – Salsa sin kilometraje
1 cup fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1 ½ cups assorted tomatoes + one extra for roasting
1 large onion, peeled and quartered (I had six very small onions)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 sprig cilantro
Fresh hot peppers, to taste (I used one serrano and four Black Hungarian)
Wash and dry veggies. Layer the tomatillos, 1 ½ cups of tomatoes (I had black cherry and yellow pear), ¾ of the onion (I had 5 small ones), and the cilantro in the blender jar (below, left). On a dry (no oil) iron skillet over medium heat, roast the extra tomato, ¼ onion (1 small from my garden), the garlic cloves, and the peppers, turning frequently and allowing some charring (right); this technique is called tatemar in Mexico:
The Black Hungarian peppers were blackening faster than the rest of the ingredients, so I put them on a plate and continued roasting (photo below, left), until everything had a nice charred exterior. Once done, I let the ingredients rest to cool down a little, then I removed the stems from the tomato and the peppers (right):
I noticed the Black Hungarian peppers had turned a beautiful emerald green colour, and the aroma reminded me of poblano peppers. The seeds were large and numerous for such small peppers (about the size of jalapeños), so I removed them, as well as a couple of the “veins” along the walls, to make them a tad milder. I really liked their taste, somewhere between a poblano and a jalapeño:
The tatemados went on top of the other veggies in the blender; I paused to appreciate the different colours and textures (photo at the top of the post), as well as to enjoy the scents. I pulsed the salsa to have a better control of the blending process, allowing a few chunks to remain, so the salsa would not turn brown, but keep some speckles of red, charred black, green from the tomatillos, and yellow from the pear tomatoes. This recipe yielded about two cups of deliciously fresh, yet fragrant salsa.
I poured it into a serving bowl to photograph with some tortilla chips, but my bagged chips looked so … store bought, not even a little special like stone ground, or from blue corn, so I just left the salsa by itself:
Of course, this means that now I will have to figure out how to make the perfect tortilla chips to enjoy with this salsa, but that will be the subject of another post. In addition to an appetizer with tortilla chips, this is an excellent salsa to top tacos, or to offer at the table to spice up steaks, chicken, rice, etc.
Personal opinion: This is the first time I grow Black Hungarian peppers. I purchased the seed from West Coast Seeds; they are open pollinated, which means I could save seed for future crops, as needed. The seeds sprouted slowly but surely, and grew into healthy seedlings that adapted well to the soil. The blooms have a pretty shade of purple, and give place to the dark peppers (wow, I just read at the West Coast Seeds site that they mature further from black to bright red!) I harvested four, which I used up for this salsa, but I can see a few more growing on the two plants I have; I shall let them turn red and check out the flavour.