Any true Texan knows the best Mexican restaurants in town aren’t off the highway, but tucked into those strip malls in your neighborhood – next to the Kroger, the dry cleaners, and/or the nail salon. These restaurants – with their neon signs and ceiling tiles (painted black, if they’re fancy), rubbery booths and plastic tablecloths – aren’t out to win any decor awards. It’s the fantastic food, always served hot in ridiculously large quantities, the house special margarita, and the salsa that brings the neighbors coming back again and again.
I made salsa before. Using a fork, I’d dangle fresh tomatoes in a boiling pot of water, then peel the skins away while burning my fingers. I’d add the typical salsa ingredients, but it was never as good as the stuff I could buy from the store, and a far cry from the liquid gold I could find at the restaurant around the corner. I’ve perfected the recipe while making it easier. Last weekend, I impressed my Belgian, Dutch, and Colombian friends with my version of Strip Mall Salsa. . . and after the first bite, I was transported back to my favorite Mexican restaurant in Dallas – appropriately named, Salsa.
One 28 ounce can (Two 400 gram cans) peeled tomatoes
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup (25 grams) fresh cilantro (koriander), stems removed
1 tablespoon chili powder (I used McCormick’s Chipotle Chili Powder – a Target purchase tucked in a suitcase)
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 cup (45 grams) pickled jalapeno slices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 to 4 shakes of Liquid Smoke
Throw all ingredients in a blender or use a hand mixer and blend until smooth.
Take a sample, or two, and add salt to your desire.
Cover and enjoy for up to a week in the fridge (if there’s any left).