February 13, 2015
But it can't compare to LA, where the Mexican food is so rich and varied I dread the thought of returning back east. The bar is high here: great tacos are everywhere. The only reason to make your own salsa is to avoid the traffic; getting to East LA can be a challenge. And so, even here I sometimes build my own tacos.
I get good tortillas, add beans and melt some cheese. I make a quick salsa by chopping fresh tomatoes, chiles and onions, then squeezing in a bit of lime. Then I add this extremely easy no-frills cooked salsa which I try to keep on hand. Guajillos aren't very hot, but they have a wonderfully fruit flavor with great depth. One warning: this recipe isn't worth your time unless you can find fantastic chiles that have been dried in the not-so-distant past.
Easy Guajillo Salsa
12 dried guajillo chiles
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 onion, peeled but not chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar – white or apple cider
Wipe your chiles (they tend to be dusty). Remove stems, seeds and veins.
Gently toast them in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until the aroma fills the kitchen. Be careful not to let them get too brown.
Throw the chiles, tomatoes, whole onion and garlic into a saucepan over high heat, breaking up the tomatoes on the side of the pan. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little water. When it begins to bubble rapidly, turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt, sugar and vinegar, and cook for another minute.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Cool and refrigerate.
If I'm not adding a layer of fresh salsa, I like this seasoned with finely chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. You will undoubtedly have ideas of your own.
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