Salsa Bliss

salsasIt’s no secret that Mexican food is my favorite cuisine. I like gourmet Mex, Tex-Mex, and everything in between. I even tend to judge a Mexican restaurant first on it’s salsa offerings.

El Chubasco in Park City, Utah gets high marks for it’s salsa bar. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the dining room of this cheap eats (one of the very few inexpensive restaurants in Park City that isn’t a chain) is a salsa bar, featuring more than 15 different salsas, all made from scratch.

Each salsa is labeled with chiles to indicate the heat level, with one chile for mild and four chiles for set-your-pants-on-fire hot. Most are in the three chile range, and those were spicy enough for this gringo.

I felt like a kid in a candy store on my first visit, sampling nine of the 15 or so salsas. On subsequent trips, I showed only slightly more restraint by taking just four or five. My favorite was the arbol, a smoky roasted tomato and chile de arbol (a skinny – usually dried – chile similar to cayenne) salsa, but I also loved the fresh, pico de gallo, studded with enough fresh, minced serranos to wake up any slacker taste bud.

Pico de gallo is really a simple salsa to make. It’s best to make it in late summer, when tomatoes are at their peak, but I make it all year, substituting Roma tomatoes for regular ones. It’s a great accompaniment to grilled or baked fish.

Pico de Gallo

Makes 2 cups

1/2 of a large, white onion, finely chopped
2 pounds tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 jalapenos or serranos, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 or 1 lime (to your tastes)
Salt and pepper

Toss all ingredients together and let rest 10 to 30 minutes before serving. Keeps 3 days, covered in the refrigerator.

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