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Salsa Sauce - Information, History and Recipes
Find salsa recipes.
Read the history of salsa.
Salsa simple means "sauce" in Spanish. The word comes from the Latin term "salsa" which means "salty." This spicy dish has grown in popularity in the United States until in 2000, sales of salsa surpasses sales of ketchup, not in volume, but in dollars spent. That is actually good news for the health of Americans because salsa contains no added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
In the US, when we use the term salsa, we typically mean the tomato based, hot and spicy kind used as a dip for tortilla chips. It is usually made with jalapeños peppers, cilantro, onions and garlic.
But in Spanish, all sauces are salsa. Ketchup is "Salsa de Jitomate" (tomato sauce), Worchester Sauce is "Salsa Ingles" (English sauce), gravy is "salsa dorada" (golden sauce) or "salsa de carne" (meat sauce). And what the US calls salsa, in Mexico could be called "Salsa Casera" (home sauce), "Salsa Roja" (red sauce) or "Salsa Pico de Gallo" (rooster's beak sauce). In Mexico, salsa traditionally is made with a mortar and pestle, although the blender is sometimes used today.
Then, also, there is "Salsa Verde" which is green sauce. Salsa verde is typically made from pureed raw or cooked tomatillos. Tomatillos (green "tomatoes") are a member of the same family as tomatoes, the nightshades, but are more closely related to the cape gooseberry. jalapeños, chilies, onion, cilantro and lime may be added to salsa verde. It can be served cold as a condiment or warm as in a chili verde. Its spiciness ranges from mild to burn-your-mouth hot. In Mexican-American cuisine, salsa verde is often served as a dip for tortilla chips or a side to tacos, grilled pork, other grilled meats and even fish.
Now, "picante" simply means "hot-spicy." Picante can be made with jalapeños, chipote, habaneros, arbol, serranos or guajillos. But it is always going to be HOT. This particular salsa has an interesting history. It was developed by David Pace and is sold as Pace Picante. Pace called his creation "Picante" from the Spanish term "picar," which means "to sting." (Surprise) And the term "piquant" in English means "favorably stimulating to the palate, pleasantly spicy." This salsa became so popular that Pace eventually dropped his other products and concentrated solely on Picante, although they've expanded again. He loved this salsa so much that he would put it on his eggs, chicken and burgers. Legend has it that he even put a spoonful in his morning cup of coffee!
Besides what we typically think of as salsa, the red and the green kinds, there are the more exotic salsas which can be made from ingredients like mango, mint, cantaloupe, peach or pineapple.
Different Kinds of Salsa Sauce
There are many different kinds of salsa. Here are some of them:
Salsa Brava - Wild Sauce
A mildly spicy sauce, often flavored with paprika. You'll find this sauce in tapas bars in Spain, served on top of potato wedges. It makes a dish called patatas bravas.
Made with cantaloupe, onion, cilantro, lime juice, chilies or jalapeños and other ingredients.
Salsa Cruda - Raw Sauce
Made with raw tomatoes, other coarsely chopped raw ingredients, chili peppers, onions, lime juice, cilantro leaves and cilantro leaves.
Salsa Bandera - Flag Sauce, referring to the Mexican flag
Made with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, radishes, cucumbers, lemon juice.
Salsa Fresca - Fresh Sauce
Made with tomatoes, chilies, cilantro, onion and optional avocado
Salsa Mexicana - Mexican Sauce
Made with tomatoes, jalapeños or chilies, lime juice, cilantro.
Salsa Picada - Chopped Sauce
Ingredients are chopped or minced, not blended. Makes a chunky sauce.
Pico de Gallo - Rooster's Beak
Made with tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, lime juice, peppers, garlic, cilantro.
Any sauce with avocado as the main ingredient. This is really thicker than a sauce and is used as a dip.
Spicy/sweet. Made with mangos, onion, jalapeños, or chilies, lime juice, cilantro, sometimes cucumbers. Served with fish or meat or used as a topping for nachos.
Made with tomatoes, mint, onion, chilies, spices and other ingredients. Served with lamb or other meat.
Mole - Pronounced ['mo le]
Made with tomatoes or tomatillos, chilies, unsweetened chocolate, onion, cilantro and spices. May contain ingredients such as plantain, cinnamon, or almonds.
Made with peaches, onion, jalapeños peppers, lime juice, cilantro and other ingredients. Served with pork, melted brie, shrimp or fish.
Made with pineapple, onion, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice and other ingredients. Served with chicken, pork or fish.
Salsa Ranchera - Ranch Style Sauce
Made with tomatoes, chilies and spices. Thick and soupy. Usually served warm.
Salsa Roja - Red Sauce
Made with cooked tomatoes, onion, chilies, garlic and cilantro. Used as a condiment with Mexican and Southwestern dishes.
Salsa Taquera - Taco Sauce
Made with tomatillos and morita chili. As the name implies, served with tacos.
Salsa Verde - Green Sauce
Made with tomatillos, onion, lime juice, jalapeños or chilies, spices.
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