The basic salsa cruda of Mexican and Southwestern cooking everywhere is Fresh Tomato Salsa. Our special version of Fresh Tomato Salsa, with its six chili peppers, radish, and garlic, is a zippy one. If you would like yours less hot and spicy, reduce the chill quantity. Once chopped and mixed together, its consistency should be like a wet salad with enough liquid to cover the vegetables, but not so much as to drown them. If you can’t get the chilies called for, substitute 2 ounces mixed chili peppers—whatever is available.
Yield: Makes 2 cups
2 Jalapeño chili peppers, stemmed
2 serrano chili peppers, stemmed
2 yellow wax chili peppers, stemmed
3 radishes, trimmed
3 garlic cloves
1 bunch of scallions (green onions), trimmed, or ½ medium onion
2 medium tomatoes
1 cup cilantro leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ to 1 cup water
1. Coarsely chop the chili peppers, radishes, garlic, scallions, tomatoes, and cilantro in a food processor or with a chef’s knife. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the salt, tomato paste, and water. Stir to mix well. Use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
When chopping vegetables in a food processor-onions, chili peppers, tomatoes, radishes, or whatever—first halve them or cut them into 1-inch chunks so that they chop up evenly.
If you are using a food processor to chop the vegetables, be sure not to overprocess them. The pieces in Fresh Tomato Salsa should be coarse and chunky, not minced.
How much water you add depends on how full and juicy the tomatoes are. If they are soft and ripe, ½ cup water is enough, but if they are very-firm, add more, up to 1 cup or so.