Help me replicate this smooth, spicy salsa
October 7, 2012 6:52 PM   Subscribe

How can I replicate this amazing smooth, spicy salsa when all I can find are chunky salsa recipes?

I've got my chunky salsa technique down pat, but I'd like to start experimenting with smoother, pureed salsas--less the kind you get a Chevy's or in a Tostito's jar, and more the kind on the table with the chips at the taqueria 'round the corner. I've particularly fallen in love with one from a local farmers' market vendor that looks like simple tomato puree, but gets a complex, spicy flavor from several different kinds of chiles, including cayenne, wax, and habanero peppers. I know the ingredients for this salsa because they're on the label, but don't have the slightest clue where to start with proportions, or whether the chiles used are fresh or dried or both, or whether or not it's cooked.

Sadly, my Google-fu fails me and almost all the recipes I've found online are for chunky salsa, and almost none of the recipes I've found actually include chiles other than jalapeno. Do you have a favorite recipe for smooth salsa including fresh or dried chiles? Or can you help me figure out how to better search for recipes I can start playing around with?
posted by rhiannonstone to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This would be a good template to start with. I have a friend who makes it all the time and it's great.
posted by something something at 6:59 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I were you, I'd simply start by chucking your regular salsa in a blender, seeing how you like it, and then making adjustments to it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:59 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: showbiz_liz, I've already tried that, but my regular salsa (and most other chunky salsas I've found recipes for) have a completely different flavor profile because they usually have a bunch of other ingredients and also lack the variety of chiles. And while I love spicy stuff, I need a place to start experimenting from before I just start throwing chiles in.
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:07 PM on October 7, 2012

Best answer: Maybe the search term you're looking for is Salsa Roja. A google search for that term brings up the below recipes, for example (which I haven't personally tried, but are the spicy thinner kind with lots of chilis):
Salsa Roja 1
Salsa Roja 2
Report back if you find one you love, please! The kind of salsa you describe is my favorite kind but I've never thought to make it myself.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 7:24 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

experimenting and throwing chilies in might be the best way to start. that, or ask the taqueria how they make theirs.

i'd imagine if you bought a lot of canned tomatoes and made a lot of small batches, you could get close to what your going for. you could also make it a kind of party.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:34 PM on October 7, 2012

Best answer: Try this one. Roasting the tomatoes = extra deliciousness. (Note: recipe as-is is quite spicy; reduce the peppers as necessary.)
posted by paperback version at 8:07 PM on October 7, 2012

My favorite blended salsa is easy, and may fit what you are looking for. Put half an onion (sliced into rings), 5 roma tomatos, one head of garlic (broken up but still in the paper), and a bunch of peppers of your choice (I use whatever looks good at the market) on a baking pan and put under the broiler until the skins of the peppers start to get really dark, and possibly burnt. Remove from the oven, and pull off the skins of the peppers, garlic, and tomato's (they will be really hot, so let them sit for a minute before doing this and be careful). Put in food processor with a bit of salt, lime juice, and cilantro. Pulse until it is your desired consistency.

This makes a good base for any type of salsa that you want. Changing the type of peppers makes a big difference in flavor and heat. I also like this one just diced and not blended, so that it is nice and chunky, but since it is all cooked it is super soft.

I think I know what I'm making for dinner tomorrow, now I'm hungry!
posted by markblasco at 8:20 PM on October 7, 2012

Best answer: My go to is the salsa roja linked by paperback above. Two points, make sure to only very lightly roast the garlic or it overpowers the dish and the amount of peppers called for is CRAZY TOWN!! I am a salsa fanatic and not a heat weakling but at half the required peppers it was all fire and no flavour to me. I was happy with 25% strength, though up here I Canada perhaps the peppers I can get are different.
posted by saradarlin at 8:33 PM on October 7, 2012

Smooth salsas work well with cooked/roasted ingredients, while blended salsas work well with raw. The flavors you're looking for may just be the same ingredients coming together in different ways with heat. Try roasting the ingredients together in a pan and then puree. And yes, a variety of chiles will give you a more layered and complex heat.
posted by judith at 8:27 AM on October 9, 2012

I second the recipe posted by something_something. I make it all the time and it definitely comes closest to what you're looking for. It's easy to tweak, too.
posted by jrichards at 10:08 AM on October 10, 2012

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