Dinner at the Ranch

Tacos with pineapple salsa

Fruit Salsas

We like fruit sal­sas here, we make them very high­ly fla­vored, and left to my own devices, I would make them quite hot with chilies. Mostly, I don’t because not every­one is a fan of the burn.

For me, there’s noth­ing quite like the shock­ing­ly intense expe­ri­ence of a good, hot fresh chili. I pre­fer the fla­vor of fresh chilies, and many meals here will be served with a ramekin of fine­ly-chopped fresh hot chili to be added as desired.

Salsas don’t have to be spicy, but they do have to be very fla­vor­ful. They are condi­ments, rel­ish­es, some­thing to be used spar­ing­ly as a sharp con­trast to the rest of the dish. You can’t be shy about the sea­son­ings and expect the sal­sa to work.

Salt is the mag­ic ingre­di­ent. It has a chem­i­cal reac­tion with the fruit and onion which breaks open the cell walls and releas­es their juice. It’s a good idea to let the sal­sa sit for 20 min­utes or so, let­ting the ingre­di­ents exude and meld. Salsas with not enough salt seem flat and not inte­grat­ed, the ingre­di­ents not har­mo­niz­ing with each oth­er. We always use either min­er­al salt (halite or Himalayan) or sea salt, nev­er the puri­fied stuff, which I think tastes nasty. I call it our “fla­vor-enhanc­ing min­er­al sup­ple­ment.”

Our recipe is sim­ple and direct: fruit, onions, sea or min­er­al salt, chilies, lime or lemon juice, cilantro. They are what would be called in Mexican cui­sine sal­sa cru­da (raw sauce). These ingre­di­ents are blend­ed accord­ing to the fla­vor of the fruit and needs of the dish they will accom­pa­ny.

Fruits we have found work well as a base for sal­sa:

  • Papaya (both green and ripe)
  • Mango
  • Carambola (star fruit)
  • Pineapple
  • Tomato
  • Cocona
  • Tomatillos
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange

There are some things, some­times used by oth­er sal­sa mak­ers, that I avoid adding to the sal­sa because they don’t keep well: gar­lic and cucum­ber. If you’re going to eat it all right away, it’s OK, but these ingre­di­ents will degrade the sal­sa and make it unpleas­ant to eat the next day. Avocado is also not a good idea: just make gua­camole with it. Sometimes a left­over sal­sa will seem a lit­tle life­less the next day–just add some more lime juice, and it will perk right up.

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