One of the best things about having lived in San Antonio, TX for nine years was getting to learn about real south Texas salsa, or “Hot Sauce” as they call it. You learn pretty quickly when you go into a local restaurant (Jalisco or Taqueria) and order a taco you will get an odd look if you ask them for salsa. Instead they will point you in the direction of the hot sauce bar or ask what kind of hot sauce you want. It took a little while to get used to but now that I live in North Carolina I find myself wanting to ask for hot sauce whenever I am out at a Mexican restaurant. Of course here they will look at you like you are crazy and ask if Tabasco is fine. In case you were wondering, NO… It is not fine and is not even in the same family. Hot sauce is actually a kind of salsa, and is used for everything from eating with chips while you wait for your meal to putting on tacos or burritos and everything in between. Its not the big chunky stuff that usually comes from “New York City” that you get if you go into a chain restaurant. That is closer to over processed pico de gallo and is really no comparison. The hot sauce/salsa that I am talking about and am about to show you how to make is way more flavorful and a different experience all together. Since there are several different variations that can be made, all with unique flavors, I have settled on the “fuego” version that both me and my wife seemed to go for most often when we were dining out.
Fuego hot sauce is a little more on the spicy side and gets its unique flavor from roasting the tomatoes and peppers to get a nice little char on the outside before putting everything together. You don’t have to just put this on tacos because it is great on just about everything. You can even mix a cup of this in with a cup of your favorite BBQ sauce and make a nice sauce for meatloaf. Yes I will be sharing my “Southwestern Meatloaf” recipe down the road. Be sure to check back for that one, it really is something that you have to taste.
Lets go ahead and get started. Here is a list of what you will need to pick up from the store to make this great hot sauce.
This makes about 5 cups.
Roma tomatoes (5 or 6 depending on the size)
1 bunch of cilantro
4 fresh limes
1 clove of garlic
1 yellow or Spanish onion (medium size)
4 Jalapenos (use one or two if you want it less spicy)
3 Serrano peppers (use one if you want it less spicy)
Kosher or sea salt
Tortilla chips (for sampling and snacking, You will thank me later)
Before you start cooking make sure that you have these items ready to use. Blender or food processor, baking sheet, aluminum foil, tongs, a sharp knife to cut everything with and a cutting board.
Now lets get this flavor party started.
First: Wash all of your fresh ingredients and pat them dry and then lay out the tomatoes, jalapeno and Serrano peppers on a baking sheet that has been covered with aluminum foil. Turn on your ovens broiler to the high setting and put the tray on the top oven rack. You will want to check on these every few minutes and turn them when they start to get a nice black char on the outside. This is where the tongs come in (see, I was thinking ahead for you). The peppers will most likely char a little quicker than the tomatoes so go ahead and remove them and set aside once they have a good char on all sides. You can also roast these on a gas or charcoal grill but since I made this during the colder months the broiler was the best way to go.
Second: While the tomatoes and peppers are roasting go ahead and dice up the onion, garlic and cilantro. You want a medium dice on the onion and garlic and just chop up the cilantro enough to make it easier to manage. This is all going to go into the blender anyway so there is no need to make it pretty. Cut the limes in half and go ahead and squeeze the juice into the blender.
Third: By now the tomatoes and peppers should be ready to go. Give them a few minutes to cool so that they are easier to handle and then remove the stems and seeds from the peppers. You can do this by slicing long ways down the center and then use the back of the knife to gently scrape them out. Cut the stem end out of the tomatoes and then quarter them. Now this is important so read it twice. Do not, I repeat, Do not remove the charred skin off of the tomatoes and peppers and throw it away. This is where the unique flavor comes from. Trust me on this. LEAVE THE CHARRED SKIN ON.
Last: Put everything in the blender, add a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper and put the lid on tight. Hit the puree button and let it rip. You want to get everything chopped up and blended together with a consistency similar to a thick apple sauce. (note: Depending on the size of the cilantro bunch, you may want to add only half of it to the blender first and taste it. Then add more if you think it needs it).
Now you can taste test with those chips I convinced you to buy and see what you think. If you would like to add a little more salt or pepper go for it, but I have found that you only need a little bit to enhance the natural flavor of these ingredients.
I hope you enjoy this one, I know that it is one of my favorites and really goes great on lots of different things. Be sure to come back next time for another great recipe. Here’s a hint, it may be something yummy that you can put this salsa on.
Thanks for stopping by,