Citrus salsa is one of the great fresh and spicy gifts from the Mexican kitchen.
Sweet, hot, salty and tart, citrus salsa is a natural partner for anything grilled or roasted, especially fattier meats like pork or dark-fleshed fish like tuna, bluefish or mackerel. But the craziest thing about this salsa is how few calories there are in a huge helping — less than 50! While not designed as diet food at all, it’s a dieter’s dream.
Salsa is a raw sauce, of course. So there’s no cooking involved. What is absolutely necessary, however, are two new, or absolutely sharp knives — a paring knife and a slicing knife. I also recommend using a synthetic cutting board (vs a wooden one) since things get pretty juicy during the salsa prep. The salsa requires fairly precise dicing into three sizes: 1/16-inch (tiny), 1/8-inch (small) and 1/4-inch (standard) dice. And here’s why: the serrano chile is very hot and the small it’s cut the more evenly the heat is distributed.
When I work with a serrano, I use disposable gloves. I cut the ends off the chile, cut it down the middle and remove every last seed — those seeds are fiery! First, I cut it into tiny strips.
Then I gather the strips together and cut crosswise.
Flavor distribution is the same reason to cut the shallots into a small dice as well. Celery and radishes can be slightly larger.
Dealing with the citrus is like making fruit salad — first by cutting away the rind and membrane, then by freeing wedges of the peeled fruit from the membrane.
Since citrus tends to be delicate, a sharp knife is needed to cut the pieces cleanly.
Plus, the more precisely things are cut, the better the salsa looks. And that’s it!
(Photos: Lisa Deyo)
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