Condiment of the Week – Salsa (sauce)

May 26, 2016 at 4:59 AM | Posted in Condiment of the Week | Leave a comment
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Salsa

Salsa

Salsa is the Italian and Spanish term for sauce, and in English-speaking countries usually refers to the sauces typical of Mexican cuisine known as salsa picante, particularly those used as dips.

Salsa is often a tomato-based sauce or dip which is heterogeneous and includes additional components such as onions, chilies, beans, corn, and various spices. They are typically piquant, ranging from mild to extremely hot.

 
Mexican salsas were traditionally produced using the mortar and pestle-like molcajete, although blenders are now more commonly used. The Maya made salsa also, using a mortar and pestle. Well-known salsas include:

* Salsa roja, “red sauce”, is used as a condiment in Mexican and Southwestern (U.S.) cuisines; usually includes cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro (coriander).
* Pico de gallo (“rooster’s beak”), also known as salsa fresca (“fresh sauce”), salsa picada (“chopped sauce”), or salsa mexicana (“Mexican sauce”), is made with raw tomatoes, lime juice, chilies, onions, cilantro leaves, and other coarsely chopped raw ingredients.
* Salsa cruda, “raw sauce”, is an uncooked mixture of chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeño chilies, and cilantro, or coriander leaf.
* Salsa verde, “green sauce”, in Mexican versions, is made with tomatillos, usually cooked. The Italian version is made with herbs.
* Salsa negra, “black sauce” is a Mexican sauce made from dried chilies, oil, and garlic.
* Salsa taquera, “taco sauce”: Made with tomatillos and morita chili
* Salsa criolla is a South American salsa with a sliced-onion base.
* Salsa ranchera, “ranch-style sauce”: Made with roasted tomatoes, various chilies, and spices, it typically is served warm, and possesses a thick, soupy quality. Though it contains none, it imparts a characteristic flavor reminiscent of black pepper.
* Salsa brava, “wild sauce”, is a mildly spicy sauce made with tomato, garlic, onion, and vinegar, often flavored with paprika. On top of potato wedges, it makes the dish patatas bravas, typical of tapas bars in Spain.
* Guacamole is thicker than a sauce and generally used as a dip; it refers to any sauce where the main ingredient is avocado.
* Mole (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmole]) is a Mexican sauce made from chilies mixed with spices, unsweetened chocolate, almonds, and other ingredients.
* Mango salsa is a spicy-sweet sauce made from mangoes, used as a topping for nachos. It is often also used as a

Mango pineapple salsa,

Mango pineapple salsa,

garnish on grilled chicken or grilled fish due to the sauce’s gamut of complementary flavors.
* Pineapple salsa is a spicy and sweet sauce made from pineapples, used as an alternative to the mango salsa.
* Chipotle salsa is a smoky, spicy sauce made from smoked jalapeño chilies, tomatoes, garlic and spices.
* Habanero salsa is an extremely spicy salsa, where the piquancy comes from habanero chilies.
* Corn salsa is a chunky salsa made with sweetcorn and other ingredients, such as onions, and chiles (either poblano, bell chilies, and/or jalapeños), made popular by the burrito chains for burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.
* Carrot salsa is made with carrots as the base.

There are many other salsas, both traditional and nouveau, some are made with mint, pineapple, or mango.

 

 

Outside of Mexico and Central America, the following salsas are common to each of the following regions; in Argentina and the Southern Cone, chimichurri sauce is common. Chimichurri is “a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce that is the salsa (and leading condiment) in Argentina and Uruguay, served with grilled meat. It is made of chopped fresh parsley and onion, seasoned with garlic, oregano, salt, cayenne chilies and black pepper and bound with oil and vinegar.” In Costa Rica, dishes are prepared with salsa Lizano, a thin, smooth, light brown sauce. In Cuba and the Caribbean, a typical salsa is mojo. Unlike the tomato-based salsas, mojo typically consists of olive oil, garlic, and citrus juice, and is used both to marinate meats and as a dipping sauce. In Peru, a traditional salsa is peri peri or piri piri sauce: “The national condiment of Peru, peri-peri sauce is made in medium to hot levels of spiciness—the more chili, or the hotter variety of chile used, the hotter the sauce. Original peri-peri uses the African bird’s eye chili (the African word for the chili is peri-peri). Milder sauces may use only cayenne and serrano chilies. To a base of vinegar and oil, garlic and lemon juice are added, plus other seasonings, which often include paprika or tomato paste for flavor and color, onions and herb—each company has its own recipe. It is also used as a cooking.

 

 

An American, home-prepared version of pico de gallo/salsa fresca

An American, home-prepared version of pico de gallo/salsa fresca

Most jarred, canned, and bottled salsa and picante sauces sold in the United States in grocery stores are forms of salsa cruda or pico de gallo, and typically have a semi-liquid texture. To increase their shelf lives, these salsas have been cooked to a temperature of 175 °F (79 °C). Some have added vinegar, and some use pickled peppers instead of fresh ones. Tomatoes are strongly acidic by nature, which, along with the heat processing, is enough to stabilize the product for grocery distribution.

Picante sauce of the American type is often thinner in consistency than what is labelled as “salsa”. Picante is a Spanish adjective meaning “piquant”, which derives from picar (“to sting”), referring to the feeling caused by salsas on one’s tongue.

Many grocery stores in the United States and Canada also sell “fresh” refrigerated salsa, usually in plastic containers. Fresh salsa is usually more expensive and has a shorter shelf life than canned or jarred salsa. It may or may not contain vinegar.

Taco sauce is a condiment sold in American grocery stores and fast food Tex-Mex outlets. Taco sauce is similar to its Mexican counterpart in that it is smoothly blended, having the consistency of thin ketchup. It is made from tomato paste instead of whole tomatoes and lacks the seeds and chunks of vegetables found in picante sauce.

While some salsa fans do not consider jarred products to be real salsa cruda, their widespread availability and long shelf life have been credited with much of salsa’s enormous popularity in states outside of the southwest, especially in areas where salsa is not a traditional part of the cuisine. In 1992, the dollar total of salsa sales in the United States exceeded those of tomato ketchup.

 
The World Health Organization says care should be taken in the preparation and storage of salsas and any other types of sauces, since many raw-served varieties can act as growth media for potentially dangerous bacteria, especially when unrefrigerated.

In 2002 a study by the University of Texas–Houston, found sauces contaminated with E. coli in:

* 66% of the sauces from restaurants tested in Guadalajara, Jalisco
* 40% of those from restaurants tested in Houston, Texas
In 2010 the CDC reported that 1 in 25 foodborne illnesses between 1998 and 2008 was traced back to restaurant sauces (careless prepared or stored).

A 2010 paper on salsa food hygiene described refrigeration as “the key to safe” sauces. This study also found that fresh lime juice and fresh garlic (but not powdered garlic) would prevent the growth of bacteria.

 

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