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09/22/2015

~ Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa)~

IMG_4327For those who home cook more than their fair share of Tex/Mex fare, you likely have your pico de gallo recipe committed to memory -- I do.  You also know that pico de gallo is much more than a condiment to dip tortilla chips into or plop on your tacos.  In my kitchen it's a tasty topper for grilled or broiled chicken and fish, it's great on thinly-sliced flank, skirt or flat-iron steaks, and, a spoonful on fried, poached or scrambled eggs in the AM will change your outlook of the day ahead.  Here in Central PA, my garden is still producing most of the stuff I need to make it daily!

 6 or 7 diced ingredients + 1 bowl = a raw & rustic salsa... 

IMG_4338... with a crisp, clean burst of fresh & spicy flavor in every bite!

IMG_0539A bit about pico de gallo:  In Mexican, "pico de gallo" literally translates to "rooster's beak". Native Mexicans of the Sonoran region explain that the serrano chile pepper, a key component of the dish, resembles a rooster's beak in shape.  Also referred to a "salsa fresca"  pico de gallo is a carefully concocted mixture of small-diced, fresh, uncooked "salad" ingredients: tomato, onion, cilantro, serrano peppers, salt and lime juice.

IMG_0507Recipes for pico de gallo are not written in stone.  There are as many variations as there are cooks. While this is my own recipe, made to my own liking, I do stick to the basic six ingredients.  We grow serrano chiles in our garden, so, for me I've got them on-hand all year long.  I pick them and freeze them whole in a big ziplock bag.  I take out what I need and by the time I'm done slicing or dicing them, they are thawed and ready to go into whatever dish I am preparing.  If you can't find serrano chiles, a jalapeno or two is a perfectly acceptable substitution.  Note:  I use the same freeze and dice method for the jalapenos we grow too!

As for the rest of my ingredients, plum tomatoes are great because they have more meat and less juice, but, grape or cherry tomatoes are full of sweet tomato flavor, so, whenever I can, I use some of each.  I like sweet onions (most Mexicans use white), but, you'll get no criticism from me for using red instead.  I run a couple of garlic cloves through a press and add them too, because, I think they contribute a nice sharpness in contrast to the sweet onion -- that choice is yours. You will, however, get thrown out of my kitchen if you don't use cilantro -- it is mandatory.  If you don't like cilantro, you don't like pico de gallo, so don't make it.  Some sea salt and freshly squeezed lime juice are necessary to bring up the flavors -- you can use more or less, to your liking, but neither can be omitted.  I advise resting the mixture on the counter or in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 6-8 hours, to marry the flavors.  It's important to note that pico de gallo is best served the day it is made (but next day leftovers, which get a bit watery, are still very tasty).

IMG_42922  cups, slightly smaller than 1/2" diced plum tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes, or grape tomatoes, or a combination of both, seeded or unseeded, your choice

3/4  cup diced yellow onion, or red onion, your choice

1/2  cup minced, fresh cilantro leaves

2  garlic cloves, run through a press

1-2  tablespoons finely-diced green or red serrano pepper, or jalapeno pepper, 1-2 tablespoons after removing all seeds and bitter white ribs

1 1/2-2  tablespoons fresh lime juice, to taste

1/2-3/4  teaspoon sea salt, to taste

IMG_4300 IMG_4304 IMG_4309 IMG_4311~Step 1.  Place the diced onion and the pressed garlic in a medium bowl.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt.  Stir and set aside 10 minutes.

IMG_4315 IMG_4317 IMG_4321~ Step 2.  Add and stir in the finely-diced serrano chiles or jalapeno peppers, followed by the cilantro and the tomatoes. Set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes, then, stir and taste.  Add the additional salt and/or lime juice if you feel the mixture needs it -- I added no salt and additional lime juice today.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 6 hours, to allow flavors to marry, prior to serving chilled or at room temperature.  While the pico de gallo is marinating, stir it 3-4 times throughout this time, whenever it's convenient.

C'mon baby light my fire, it's time to set my night on fire: 

IMG_4344Mexican Pico de Gallo (Salsa Fresca/Fresh Salsa):  Recipe yields 2 cups.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; garlic press; large spoon

IMG_2014Cook's Note:  For another Spanish favorite, only in the form of a raw, uncooked,  soup/beverage that gets served chilled, ~ My Traditional Gazpacho:  Fresh from Our Garden ~ can be found by clicking into Categories 2, 10, 13, 14, 17 or 19.  It's a great  bloody Mary base!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

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