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Basic Salsa

I love to make Salsa - it provides you an opportunity to use fresh ingredients that are locally grown- let the flavors mix together and have something wonderful. Plus, a salsa can be used on almost any chicken (see the chicken and salsa recipe) or fish to provide a nice addition to it. In Phoenix we have salsa competitions - which are fierce battles- and one of my patients seems to keep winning in the mild category (her recipe is included)


2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes ( about a pound). Remove leaves and stems -- then dice.
1/2 sweet onion diced
1 jalapeno pepper. See instructions below.
1 Serrano chili pepper. Again, see the cautions below
1 lime.
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Start by chopping up the fresh tomatoes -- to where you can finely dice them.

Be careful when handing the peppers. Especially the seeds.  It is from peppers that pepper spray comes from, so the last thing you will want to do is rub your eye (trust me, for the reader's sake I have done the experiment, so you do not need to confirm it).  Some handle the peppers with forks to avoid touching them as you open them and fillet them (almost like gutting a salmon). As a surgeon, gloves are always an option -- and there are a lot of makers of kitchen gloves, so this might be the one place to use them. Once the stems are gone and you have dissected out the membranes and seeds set the seeds  along with the membrane  on a small plate, and you can add these to the salsa to increase the heat. Finely chop the peppers.  Even though you have removed the hot part of the pepper it is still plenty hot -- so be careful here (kitchen gloves, or surgical bio-gel gloves work well here).

The cilantro is something to be careful about.  Start with 1/4 cup of the cilantro - -you can always add more but it is a flavor that cannot be covered up except by more salsa.  So start with a quarter cup.

Put the diced tomato, diced peppers and chopped cilantro into a bowl.  Cut the lime in half and squeeze all the juice you can into the bowl.  Mix the ingredients up and then taste it. Add your salt and pepper. If the salsa isn't hot enough then mix in a few (and I mean a few) seeds.  You can also add some ground cumin. If you put too many seeds, or too much ground cumin you can cut the heat with a bit of tomato

Salsa, like Italian sauce, needs to sit for a several hours for all the flavors to combine.  So mix it up -- put in in the refrigerator and wait for at least three hours. The consistency changes as the vegetables and fruits break down.  Also, don't store this salsa in a metal bowl, as it can pick up the flavor of the metal. Instead store this in glass.


There are a lot of great things you can include in salsas:

Salsa Additions:

green (Anaheim) chili - although there are a lot of chilis you can use
garlic cloves (typically six per half gallon -although more to taste)
jalapeno peppers (again, to taste, some like none, some like 6-10 per half gallon)
almost any variety of peppers (we have a large variety of peppers in the southwest) or you could put in about 1/2 tablespoon of black crushed pepper per 1/2 gallon.
Oregano (to taste, but generally not more than 1 tablespoon per half gallon).

The more salsa you make the less salt you need to put in it.  So, put less than you think and taste. It is easier to add salt than it is to add lots more vegetables.
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