Salsa, or 1982/83

March 18, 2010

A Little Bowlful of Mexperience

I’m kind of known for my salsa. At least, I think I am. My friends are a tough and opinionated group. Am I right? My point is, I don’t think they’re just saying that my salsa is good. Right, Jay? Jay can easily put back a litre or two of salsa. It’s not pretty, but it happens. His vehicle of choice are those scoopy little bowl-like tortilla chips. Not super clean. He even asked me to show him how to make salsa. Jay is kinda known for his tacos. Sometimes, like always, when he makes salsa, he’ll forget a key ingredient at the store. Bummer. This is not a deterrent and he will forge ahead and make cilantro-less salsa, or cumin-free salsa. And that’s fine. But not good. Technically, of course, it remains a salsa.

What business do I have writing a salsa recipe? Well, this is my blog and I’ll write whatever recipe I want. I’m not Mexican. I have not been taught the classic steps of a salsa. But, back in the day, I worked in a Mexican/Fish & Chip restaurant on the beach. No, not in Mexico. In White Rock. And who cares that I merely heated up a large, orange fat-ringed pot of ground beef and rolled it in a soft shell of a tortilla and microwaved it with a fat handful of orange cheese? I felt close to the border. Of Bellingham. And I dreamed of having my own restaurant. In between the Mexican food orders (there weren’t very many but, if you ask me, this aging and reheating process added to the bizarre deliciousness of this orangey ground beef) I fried up thousands of orders of fish and chips. I really loved this job, loved wrapping up the orders in little yellow cardboard trays and newspaper. I got paid $2 an hour, it was 1982 and, by the end of a weekend, that would buy a lot of chocolate bars. Sometimes I forget that this is a blog on clean eating.

We never made salsa at the fish and chip joint. Some things are unclear about that time. Such as, I don’t think we had a microwave there, I think I made that up. Maybe we turned the shredded cheese into lava under a salamander. I cannot recall. Everyone, almost everyone, smoked when they came into the restaurant it seemed, and I would empty ashtrays as regularly as I would fry chips and wipe down vinegar bottles. The top songs, in my opinion, were by Journey, Toto and Melissa Manchester. I also remember I ate an entire box of these. Not one measly box, one box case of 48 – ugh. Another ugh: as 1982 turned into 1983 Donna Summer released She Works Hard for the Money. Which is not much cause for grief in itself except for the fact that my dad, who drove me to my job every weekend, would sing this song to me.

Given this account of my past Mexperience, here is my salsa recipe. It is clean, fresh-tasting and not at all authentic. I recommend that you don’t use the excellent Italian San Marzano tomatoes, they’re too tomato saucy. I use Aylmer brand tomatoes, and I buy them in a flat of eight from Costco and I’m slightly sheepish about this. But they work perfectly. Much like music from the 1980’s: a bit tacky and cheap, slightly tinny and without much substance. LOVE IT.

Makes about 1 litre, or enough for Jay, I suggest you double the recipe if he’s coming over

1- 796 ml tin of cheap tomatoes, drained

1/4 small red onion, roughly chopped

1/2 small clove of garlic, don’t use more than this or it will be garlicky

1 – 2 jalapenos – be warned. I slice one open and taste-test for heat by pressing the back of a spoon against the cut flesh, seeds and membrane and then tasting the spoon. Then I determine how many I want to use, this probably take some practice. Start with half of one, you can always add more. But I never seed them. It’s the membrane that’s hot, not the seeds, I think. Anyway, don’t handle them and then touch your eyes or face or something silly. If you do, your eyes will sting and water as though you’re sitting in a greasy, smoky fish ‘n chip joint in the early 80’s.

1 bunch cilantro

1 lime, juiced

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

1 teaspoon toasted, roughly ground cumin seeds

Here I go again, recommending that you put ingredients into a food processor. First, the onion, garlic and jalapeno and pulse to roughly chop. Then add the drained tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, sea salt and cumin. Process briefly. I like to leave it as chunky as possible. Now, this is not a fresh, hand-cut salsa. It is what it is and I like it and my friends like it. You don’t need to eat it with scoopy chips, you shouldn’t. It is excellent on eggs, on chicken and stirred into fried onions and peppers and many, many other healthy things.

My dad is right: I do work hard for my money. Someone needs to pay me for my opinion this blog.


10 Responses to “Salsa, or 1982/83”

  1. Kat said

    Dawne , you never fail to make me laugh! Even at 6:50 am as I head off to to work….. I laughed enough I may even step up and dirty my kitchen with this non-cooking cooking…right up my alley.

  2. Dad said

    You have total accurate recall,you missed nothing,the fish and chips where great also.Yes we should have bought the joint and we could have renamed Marine dr. too easy street.

  3. jevanshead said

    Dawne is indeed known for her salsa making prowess, it is my personal favourite and I can and have actually eaten a litre of it at a time.

    Dawne taught me this amazing recipe a few years ago and it is true that on occasion I forget an ingredient or two. Actually it’s not even that I forget so much as I mistake parsley for cilantro, or toast the cumin two or three times longer than called for. Through my mexperience it is important to heed the instruction regarding draining the tomatoes. If you skip this step your salsa will slowly start to flood with liquid and this is of course unacceptable.

    However it comes out it’s always a hit and anything that may be lacking is soon forgotten when people tuck into one of my *world famous tacos.

    *I think I once made them in Europe.

  4. I never thought about making a salsa from canned tomatoes. It looks amazing.

  5. As usual, your photo is superb. You may be known for your salsa which sounds awesome but you’re really a talented food-photo persona.

  6. Tatiana said

    I just made the salsa sans cumin.
    New favorite. Thanks Dawne!

  7. jevanshead said

    Made some last night Dawne. Flawless!

    • dawnegourley said

      Yippee Jason! That means you bought cilantro, not flat leaf parsley. Thanks for the search widget suggestion.

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