Thursday, December 4, 2008

Homemade Salsa

We went out for Mexican food recently with Brett's parents who were in town visiting.  The conversation predictably turned to my love of chips and salsa, and then on to my severe salsa craving while we were on our road trip this past summer, and then Brett's mom asked, "Have you ever made your own salsa?"  Of all the things we've made, salsa has never been one of them.  Since then I have been determined to make my own.

As luck would have it, when I was up at my parent's house, my grandma was making homemade salsa, so I watched.  I took mental notes of all the ingredients and watched her method carefully (put everything in the blender.)  My grandma was not pleased with the way it turned out, but I thought it was pretty good.  It just needed some extra oooomph.  It was too tomatoey.  Needless to say, her salsa was gone in a matter of days.

So last night I got out my trusty mini food processor and set to making my own salsa.  It felt strange to start making something without a recipe and with only a general idea of what I'm doing, but I managed.  I started with pureeing a big can of whole peeled tomatoes and then I pureed some garlic, green onions, and a red jalapeno (can you believe the store was out of regular jalapenos?)  I chopped up some fresh cilantro sprinkled some garlic salt and stirred everything together in a large bowl.  At my first taste it was too tomatoey.  For someone who does not like tomatoes, this is bad.

My remedy was to add more of everything else.  More garlic, more jalapeno, some regular white onion.  I was getting closer, but my palette is not sophisticated enough to know exactly what I needed.  I went with more garlic, onion and salt.  By this point I could tell I was close and had Brett in there tasting and giving his two cents.  He thought it needed to be spicier but I was out of jalapeno so I did a couple of shakes of Tapatio and called it quits.  It is not the perfect salsa (in fact I may have gone overboard on the onions and garlic) but I like it.

This experiment made me realize that I need to cook by instinct rather than recipes every once in a while.  I need to develop my palette and learn when I need more salt (I hate when the recipe says "season to taste," I can't tell!)  I know I have a long way to go in the culinary world, but I think taking this step out of the (recipe) box was a good exercise for me, and I look forward to more cooking by taste experiences.

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