Salsas are the lifeblood of just about every Mexican dish. They can be cooked or raw, made in the blender or in a molcajete. Salsa can make or break any dish, add a special dimension of flavor or even make a dish edible (you wouldn’t eat chicharrón without cooking it in salsa to soften the dried meat).
The simple combination of tomatoes (jitomate or tomatillos/red or green), chiles (of any variety) and other ingredients like onion, garlic and spices is essential to many traditional dishes in Mexican cuisine. Salsa verde is certainly a staple in my house, whether it’s cooked and used for guisados like chicharrón en salsa verde, or raw salsa used for garnishing tacos.
You’ll notice this same cooked salsa recipe will be used over and over again in a number of dishes you’ll read about here and I’ll reference back to it often and sometimes modify it (for example, when making chilaquiles, I substitute fresh chicken stock in place of water).
In Mexico, we’ve eaten similar recipes to mine at many of our favorite restaurants, though some places use epazote in their cooked salsa (an ingredient I don’t use). In Chicago, we haven’t found a place that makes salsa verde the way we like it—or anywhere near it, really. Because of this, we sometimes order take out from our favorite Mexican restaurants and bring it home to eat it with our own homemade salsa.
How to make Mexican cooked green salsa. Ingredients Instructions Notes Stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for about 10 days.
How to make Mexican cooked green salsa.
Stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for about 10 days.
Tip: for extra flavor with salsa verde cocida, you can also add 2 strips of chicharrón (with meat still attached) to season the salsa. You should add the chicharrón during the end stage when you cook the salsa until it boils for a few minutes, then remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature before storing to infuse the chicharrón flavor. This flavor infusion method only works with the cooked salsa.
How to make Mexican salsa verde cruda (raw tomatillo green salsa)
- A little over 1 pound of small (milpero) tomatillos, dehusked & thoroughly washed
- 3-6 serrano chiles (depending how spicy you like it; start with less and add them to increase heat), stems cut off
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 2 1/4-inch slices of white onion
- A big pinch of Kosher salt
- First, remove the husks and wash the tomatillos well. You’ll notice they’re sticky, which is a sign of ripeness, and probably slightly dirty under the husk. Sometimes I find that warm water isn’t enough, and I use a few drops of dish soap diluted in a bowl of warm water. Then I put the husked tomatillos in the bowl and gently rub each one in the slightly soapy water to remove the dirt and sap. Rinse them well in cool water to remove any soap residue.
- Put the raw tomatillos directly into the blender with all other ingredients. Add the chiles to taste, starting with 2 and adding more if necessary. If it's too dry, add a few tablespoons of water to the ingredients and blend well until smooth.
- Serve immediately and store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Stores in an air-tight refrigerated container for up to 3 days.
- What do you do differently in making your salsas verdes or where is your favorite place to eat a dish that includes salsa verde?