Mexico is synonymous with spicy food and the vast selection of sauces, marinades and relishes do not disappoint. With literally hundreds of different types of chili grown nationally most sauces and marinades incorporate at least one variety.
Watch out for anything made with habanero, the spiciest chili in Mexico! - and grown only in the Yucatan region. With a Scoville Heat Unit (how they measure spiciness) rating of up to 300,000 this one can literally reduce you to tears!
Thankfully, not all sauces and marinades are hot and will help bring out the best in any Mexican meal.
Salsa Roja: Red Salsa
Heat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking, about 5 minutes. Add chiles and tomatoes to skillet and roast turning often until well charred all over, about 3-4 minutes for the chiles and 10-12 minutes for the tomatoes. Transfer chiles and tomatoes to a plate and set aside. Grind the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt together in a molcajete to a paste. Cut tomatoes into eighths and add to molcajete in 3 batches, grinding to a coarse pulpy consistency after each addition. Add 1/2 cup of water and season to taste with salt. Stir to combine.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Salsa Verde : Green Salsa
Preheat your broiler. Broil tomatillos, onions and chiles in a roasting pan until lightly charred all over, about 10-15 minutes. Place in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled with tortilla chips.
Makes about 2 Cups
Basic Red Chile Sauce
Place chiles and 5 cups of water into a medium pot. Partially cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and let simmer until chiles are soft, about 30 minutes. Heat oil in a small cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook turning the cloves occasionally until soft and golden brown all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer chiles with a slotted spoon to a clean surface and throw away all but 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Pull off and throw away the chile stems and place the chiles into a blender. Add the saved cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Transfer sauce to a bowl. Add the oregano to the bowl crushing it gently between your finger. Season to taste with salt and stir to combine. Sauce will last for about 2 weeks if covered and refrigerated. Can be used as a topping for just about anything but eggs, enchiladas and tamales go very well with it.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
Salsa Negra - Black Salsa
Rinse the chiles. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and the garlic and cook (remember to stir) until the chiles are puffed and the garlic is browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer chiles to a bowl ad set garlic aside for now. Soak chiles in hot water until soft, about 15 minutes and then drain. Remove the stems, veins, and seeds. Puree chiles, garlic and 2 cups of water in a food processor or blender. Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add chile puree and cook stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture begins to stick to skillet, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Salsa Verde Picante : Spicy Green Salsa
Remove and throw away stems and seeds from chiles. Place in blender adding cilantro, garlic, onions, oil and 2 tbsp very hot water. Puree until smooth adding more hot water to thin mixture if you want.
Place chiles, onions, garlic, oregano and salt into a medium bowl and mix well. Place relish into a clean 24 ounce ceramic or glass jar. Add vinegar to cover relish. Cover jar and refrigerate for at least 2 weeks before serving. Serve with fried pork chops. Refrigerated it can be kept for up to 6 weeks.
Place the onions, half the jalapeno and half the cilantro into a food processor and season with about 1/2 tsp of salt. Crush or pulse into a smooth paste and transfer to a serving bowl. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove and throw away pit. Scoop the avocado pulp out with a spoon and throw away outer skin of avocado. Add onion to mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in remaining onions, jalapeno, and cilantro and then gently mix in the tomatoes. Adjust seasonings with salt and serve immediately with tortilla chips.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Mayonesa de Chipotle : Chipotle Mayonnaise
Mix mayonnaise, salsa negra, garlic and lime juice together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Use as a dip for shrimp, lobster, or crab claws. Can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Put chiles into a small pot and cover with cold water bringing to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside to allow chiles to soak until completely soft, about 10-15 minutes. Lightly crush cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle and transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Drain chiles and remove and throw away stems. Crush the chiles and garlic with the mortar and pestle to a coarse paste and set aside. Whisk softened butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add crushed cumin seeds, chile-garlic paste and salt to taste. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate the butter in a covered bowl or roll into logs wrapped in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
Makes about 1/2 lb of butter.
Adobo Para Cochinito (marinade)
Rinse chiles. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add chiles. Cook, turning often, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Transfer chiles to a bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak until soft, about 25 minutes. In the same skillet, toast avocado leaves, turning once, for 30 seconds. Crumble and set aside. Drain chiles and remove and throw away stems and seeds. Put chiles in blender and add avocado leaves, vinegar, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth. Use as a marinade for meats.
Makes about 2 cups
Many thanks to Karan Horan for permission to reproduce some of her favorite dishes here at CancunCare.