Welcome back, Masalitos! Today, we're making Salsa de Molcajete.
When Amit first tried this salsa at a restaurant, earlier this year, he told me I should learn how to make it... little did he know that the first thing that my grandma, Doña Adela, taught me to use in the kitchen was the molcajete! When I told him this, he looked at me in disbelief/dismay - you'd think that I had just told him that I know all the secrets of the universe and I've been keeping that from him. (gasp!) He had been missing out on homemade salsa de molcajete for years! How could I??!? So, that weekend I went online and ordered a molcajete.
FYI, if you don't already own a molcajete and are thinking of buying a new one, you need to cure it before you start using it. If there's enough interest, I can write up a tutorial in how to cure a molcajete. It takes time to cure it, but you only do it once and, if you care for it properly, a good molcajete will last you a lifetime. A word of advise, once you have fresh molcajete salsa, you can't go back to jarred salsa, just giving you fair warning...
There are many different ways to make salsa de molcajete, but by far, my favorite is using roasted ingredients. The smokiness of charred poblanos and the sweetness of roasted onions is incomparable. In the future, I'll write up other recipes using different ingredients, perhaps a guacamole, even!
Another easy way to introduce depth of flavor is roasting garlic. We LOVE garlic in our house, so I roasted 10 cloves of garlic, but it's up to you how much you want to use. I often over do it when I roast garlic in the oven, so instead, I put it on a small skillet at medium heat with the skin still on. I lightly sprayed the skillet with olive oil spray but you can use regular oil too, you just need a little bit to cover the bottom of the skillet. When the garlic is golden, it's done, wait until it cools down and peel it.
Now, here comes the fun part! Get your molcajete out and put cumin seeds, salt (I used kosher salt) and the roasted garlic and start grinding away until you have a smooth paste. If you've never used a molcajete before, be mindful not to hit the ingredients or the molcajete, use circular grinding motions instead. Sometimes, with tougher ingredients, you may have to *lightly* tap to smash them, but never hit, you can break your molcajete. Also, this is a piece of stone, so it can scratch your countertop or table. To avoid this, put a towel or placemat under it when grinding. Why go through all this trouble, you ask, when you can easily put the ingredients in a blender? Well, my friends, believe me when I tell you that salsas tastes different when they are made in a molcajete. Don't believe me? Try it at home! Do a head-to-head comparison with blended salsa and molcajete salsa and you'll be convinced.
When you're grinding your ingredients, be patient. Don't throw everything in all at once, it'll make it harder to grind and you'll probably end up with a mess. For your reference, I have a 10-inch molcajete. It's huge! My boys love salsa, so I make a lot of it. If you have a smaller molcajete, you'll have to grind the ingredients in batches and mix them in a separate bowl.
The ingredients that go in first, will get more crushed than the ones that go in last, so keep that in mind when deciding what to put in next. For example, I like my poblano to be a paste but my onion to be chunky, so the peppers go first and the onions go last.
Another helpful hint is to deseed and devein your peppers if you are not used to spicy food. I always do this to poblanos after peeling the charred the skin, but I leave the serrano seeds in there because Amit and Virat love spicy food. My two-year-old's tolerance for spicy is better than mine, y'all! Another tip you can use is not put all the peppers in at once. Put them in one at a time, taste, and add more if needed.
Ever since I got my molcajete, we've always had this salsa ready in the fridge. I use it as dip for chips, or top my eggs with it, add avocado to make delicious guacamole, put it in tacos, or use it to cook other recipes, like Paneer with Molcajete Salsa.
Please leave your comments below, we love to hear from you. Buen provecho!
- 3 tomatoes
- 3 tomatillos (husks removed)
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 to 5 serrano peppers (depends on how spicy you’d like)
- 1 white onion (cut in quarters)
- 2 to 10 cloves of garlic (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds (or 1 teaspoon cumin powder)
- ½ lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil spray or ½ tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- Cilantro for garnish
1. Roast the poblano and serrano peppers. If you have a gas stove, you can do this directly on top of the fire, rotating the peppers as their skin gets black and blistered. Another way to do this is to roast them on a griddle or wrap them in aluminum foil and roast on the stovetop, turning them every few minutes to make sure all sides are roasted.
2. Wrap the poblano pepper in a moist towel or in a plastic bag to let it sweat. Once it has cooled down, remove the stem, skin, veins and seeds and cut it into small pieces. Remove the stems from the serranos. You can also remove the seeds and veins from the serrano peppers if you want to make the salsa less spicy. I usually leave the serrano seeds in. Cut the serranos in thirds.
3. While the peppers are cooling down, heat a small skillet and spray it with olive oil. Roast the garlic in the olive oil (leave the skins on while roasting), rotating them until they turn golden on all sides. Once they are done, remove from heat and peel them when they have cooled down.
4. Roast the tomatoes, tomatillos, and onion. Similar to the peppers, you can do this on a griddle or wrap them in aluminum foil and roast them on your stovetop, turning them every few minutes to make sure all sides are roasted. Once everything is roasted, cut into large chunks.
5. In a molcajete, put the salt, cumin and garlic and start grinding the ingredients until a paste is formed.
6. Start adding the rest of the ingredients, one by one until all the peppers, tomatoes, and onion are crushed to the desired consistency.
7. Check your salt and add more, if needed. Add black pepper to taste, lime juice, and cilantro. Mix well.
Please leave your comments below, we look forward to hearing from you!