Monday, April 7, 2008
Salsa - Let's dance to these Great Recipes
I used to get confused as to whether Salsa is dish or a dance. Well, its both.
Salsa refers to a fusion of informal dance styles having roots in the Caribbean (especially in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States), Latin and North America. The dance originated in Cuba through the mixture of Mambo, Danzón, Guaguancó, Cuban Son, and other typical Cuban dance forms. Salsa is danced to Salsa music. There is a strong Afro-Caribbean influence in the music as well as the dance.
Salsa is usually a partner dance, although there are recognized solo steps and some forms are danced in groups of couples, with frequent exchanges of partner (Rueda de Casino). Improvisation and social dancing are important elements of Salsa but it appears as a performance dance too.
The name "Salsa" is the Spanish word for sauce, connoting (in American Spanish) a spicy flavor. The Salsa aesthetic is more flirtatious and sensuous than its ancestor, Cuban Son. Salsa also suggests a "mixture" of ingredients, though this meaning is not found in most stories of the term's origin.
Some people consider it a condiment, but the salsa devotees of the world would most definitely call it a food.
The beauty of salsa is its versatility and adaptability. At its most basic, salsa contains chopped or pureed tomatoes, chiles, onions, and cilantro, flavored with salt and a squeeze of lime juice. But you can play with techniques and try as many different combinations of fruits and vegetables, chiles and herbs as you can possibly dream up.
Leaving everything raw will result in a salsa with a bright, refreshing taste. Raw salsa is also known as "salsa cruda."
Roasting the tomatoes, garlic and/or chiles first will lend a rich, smoky flavor to your finished dish. If you cook the salsa, you'll trade in the fresh taste for a deeper, sweeter one.
Many people hesitate to make salsa because it involves lots of time-consuming chopping. A little chopping is unavoidable, but if you've got a food processor, you can use it to puree half or all of the tomatoes in your recipe (many people prefer to keep some of the tomatoes chunky).
A food processor can also make short work of herbs and garlic; you should toss these ingredients into the processor before you add the tomatoes.
For most other ingredients, it's better to chop them by hand so you have more control over the size and shape of the pieces--and the finished product will look nicer.
Do dice the onion by hand: food processors tend to pulverize the onion, releasing so much juice that the flavor becomes overpowering.
If it tastes good, do it!
The herb you'll find in most salsas is cilantro, but don't be afraid to play around.
Parsley, mint, basil and oregano all taste exceptional when mixed with fresh vegetables and fruits.
In the chile department, you are only as limited as the selection available at your local grocery store or farmers' market.
Set the tomatoes aside and use some other fruit or vegetable instead.
To achieve a balance sweet, savory, salty, sour and spicy flavors, add salt, lime juice or vinegar, bottled hot sauce and pinches of sugar, tasting intermittently, until you achieve that perfect mix.
Mix It Up
For the base of your salsa, try:
Mangoes or papaya
Peaches or plums
For flavor, color and texture, add:
Fresh corn kernels
Mint, basil or parsley
Fresh California Salsa
4 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
salt to taste
In a small mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. Add jalapenos 2 teaspoons at a time, tasting after each addition to see how hot the salsa has become. Jalapeno peppers vary in heat, so it is important to taste the salsa to ensure you do not make it too hot to handle. Salt to taste. Enjoy!
1 (16 ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 (2.25 ounce) cans sliced ripe olives, drained
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 avocados - peeled, pitted and diced
In a large bowl, mix corn, olives, red bell pepper and onion.
In a small bowl, mix garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour into the corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover and chill in the refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight.
Stir avocados into the mixture before serving.
Black Bean Salsa
3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can Mexican-style corn, drained
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, partially drained
2 tomatoes, diced
2 bunches green onions, chopped
cilantro leaves, for garnish
In a large bowl, mix together black beans, Mexican-style corn, diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, tomatoes and green onion stalks. Garnish with desired amount of cilantro leaves. Chill in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight, before serving.
1 orange, peeled and segmented
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 bunch cilantro
2 jalapeno chile peppers
garlic salt to taste
In a food processor, place tomato, orange, kiwis, red onion, avocado, cilantro and jalapeno chile peppers. Process using pulse setting until finely chopped but not quite smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, and garnish with desired amount of garlic salt.
Watermelon Fire and Ice Salsa
3 cups chopped watermelon
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, green bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno and garlic salt. Mix well and serve.
Spicy Mango Salsa
2 cups diced fresh mango
2 cups fresh peaches, pitted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 serrano chile peppers, diced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
In a large bowl, mix together the mangoes, peaches or nectarines, garlic, ginger and basil or cilantro.
Add the chilies and lime juice to taste; mix well. Allow to chill 2 hours before serving.