Salsa Roja, an authentic Mexican recipe, is a common sauce for tacos, chilaquiles, beans, you name it! Essentially, anything you wish to make spicier.
Truth be told: until I began working on The Ultimate Mexican Sunday Dinner edition of my Food From Our Ancestors cookbook series, I always assumed salsa was meant for one thing: tortilla chips. As it turns out, I was very wrong.
When my friends at Nuts.com asked me to create a recipe with their stemless chiles de arbol, I knew right away that I had to share the authentic salsa roja recipe. Sold in one pound bags, Nuts.com makes it easy to order any chile you wish from the comfort of your own home. Since I don’t always have time to get the the Mexican grocery store, this was music to my ears.
Salsa Roja is a common sauce for tacos, chilaquiles, beans, enchiladas, etc. Essentially, anything you wish to make spicier. Despite the popularity of chips and salsa, Mexicans don’t typically eat salsa with tortilla chips as customary in Mexican restaurants in the US. Who knew, right?
Passed down over the generations, this recipe was taught to me in person by my photographer’s mother, Gloria. That’s her above toasting the chiles in a dry pan. By gently toasting them, the flavors start to develop and a warm, smoky aroma starts to release from the oils within the chiles.
Delicious on it’s own, there really isn’t anything that doesn’t taste better drizzled with a little salsa raja. I like to make a big batch on the weekend and use it throughout the week over eggs, stirred into soups, turned into a vinaigrette for salad or as a sauce on grilled meats. The uses are endless and it’s also freezer friendly.
Your fork is waiting.
- 20 tomatillos (husked and rinsed)
- 3 ounces dried chiles de arbol (stems removed)
- 1 clove garlic
- salt to taste
- Place tomatillos in a medium stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer to cook, about 10-15 minutes. While the tomatillos are simmering, pan sear the chiles whole in a dry pan until they become aromatic, about 10-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatillos from the pot of boiling water. Add the toasted chile peppers to the pot of hot water and steep until softened, about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the chiles from the pan and place in blender with as little cooking liquid as possible. Add garlic and puree until smooth. Add cooked tomatillos to the blender and pulse until you’ve reached desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.2
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