Salsa

Every now and again I post recipes on this website, justifying it by telling myself that youth workers probably can’t cook and they should learn, and that food is a gift from God to enjoy, and also that this is my website, so I can write what I feel I should write. Today’s entry is called “how to make Salsa”.

You may be familiar with salsa from places such as those jars in buy two, get one free deals on Doritos, or from those four packs of “Mexican” dips you get in Tesco near the the hummous1. This stuff is nasty. This is not proper salsa. Actually, it is proper salsa, but it’s cooked salsa, and cooked salsa is generally not that nice, at least that doritos stuff you get in a pot. It’s only real use is when it’s dumped over loads of tortilla chips and then covered in jalepeno peppers and cheese and sour cream and stuff. In short, unless you hide that salsa with fatty goodness, it’s rubbish. Real, raw salsa however, is something else. It’s fresh tasting, and versitile, and really easy to make. In time for the Superbowl (or really early for the FA Cup final) this is how to make it:

  • Finely dice and combine onions and tomatoes in a 1:2 ratio, add enough sliced fresh coriander leaf to make it look good, then salt it and add lime juice to taste.

And that’s it. I recognise though, that as the people reading this blog are either people involved in youth ministry or people who have the time and inclination to read a blog about youth ministry even though they have no reason for reading it whatsoever and clearly spend too much time on the internet, you probably can’t cook anything other than pizza and may need some help with even that. So here is that recipe again but slowed down a bit:

  • Chop up a large normal onion. Chop it up into pieces as small as you can. Use those ninja chopping skills where you iterate the knife backwards and forwards over the onion until it’s properly diced. Put them in a nice mixing big bowl (pro-tip, if you can serve it from this bowl, you’ll save washing up).
  • Chop up about twice as many tomatoes as you have onion. That’s probably around three large-ish tomatoes in this case. British tomatoes kinda suck, being all weak and un-tasty and far too watery. To correct this, either only make this at the height of summer, when British tomatoes don’t suck (restrictive!) or use Spanish ones (polluting!) or using your fingers, pull out the seedy gunk from the middle before you slice them up too much. A little bit of seed won’t matter, but they don’t give any flavour, add a lot of water, and are really annoying to get out of your teeth. Dice these things up like you did the onions. Combine them in the bowl.
  • Slice up some coriander leaf. I’ve got no idea about estimates here, do as much as looks good. Let’s call it a half a cup? Maybe one of the smaller coriander packets you buy from Sainsbury’s, the 65 (or possibly 85) gram ones? Remove the stalks and then slice up that coriander leaf. This is a good one to practice those knife skills on. Throw that in the bowl.
  • Salt. Don’t skip this. Get some salt, put it in. If you did most of your growing up in the super health conscious last thirty years you need more salt than you think you do. It won’t kill you. If you did most of your growing up in the microwave fastfood explosion last thirty years you need less than you think you do. You’ll live.
  • Add some lime juice. Get a lime, half it. Squeeze half over the bowl for a couple of seconds. Use the rest with your gin and tonic.
  • Mix it all in with your fingers.

And that’s proper salsa. It tastes good with proper tortilla chips. Or rubbish ones. It just tastes good.

At this point some of you will ask “But Mark, where the heck is the chilli?” To this I reply, Salsa does not need to contain chilli, and as this is my salsa recipe, it’s not going too. But if you want to, then chop up one or two chilli’s of mild heat and add them in too. Deseed them unless you’re really perverse, and then wash your hands like you’ve just handled the Ebola virus or you will rub your eyes and you will spend the next day weeping like a girl.

You can also make an Indian variation of the above salsa (and then use mini poppadums instead of tortilla chips! how cute would that be!). Use a lemon instead of a lime, don’t add chilli, and add about a tablespoon of dry roasted ground cumin seed2. That’s a bit more effort, but just as tasty.

See. Cooking is easy! You can of course, serve this with crisps / chips / poppadums as a starter to your youth work meeting. Or you can just eat it by yourself, as you stay at home for the evening reading weblogs about things that have nothing to do with you

1 How to make proper hummous. Don’t. It’s a lot of effort and you don’t know what you’re doing. Unless you can source proper Lebanese stuff (Greek hummous is heretical) just buy Sainsbury’s basics hummous. That stuff is the bee’s.

2 Buy cumin seed, heat up a non-stick pan, add cumin seed to pan, when they start to turn dark (which’ll take about a minute) put them into a pestle and smash them up with a mortar. Or possibly put them in a mortar and smash them up in a pestle. Whatever