We are almost at the end of the farmer’s market season, but we still enjoy their bounty every Saturday. This year the local farmers have really outdone my expectations. I’ve enjoyed the poblano peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes, red and green jalapenos, potatoes, sweet corn, juicy strawberries and plums. Well, the list is long but the thing that got me very happy was this year’s pepper variety. The colors, shapes, spiciness and the many things you can do with them. As a cook who loves spicy food, I’m like a kid in a candy store. And this, my friends, is a spicy pepper, not just any regular habanero pepper, this is the dark habanero known with names like Chocolate Habanero, Cuban Habanero, Capuccino Habanero and even Black Congo. In the Yucatan Peninsula where there are great Habanero Pepper plantations and consumption, this is known as “Chile Habanero, Cubano, or Chocolate”.
If you ask me how it compares to the yellow, red and orange habaneros, I will say that it is a little bit spicier and with a hint of smoky flavor and slightly stronger aroma when crushed. If you like hot peppers, look for them and give them a try.
And now to this traditional way to make an Habanero salsa in the Yucatan Peninsula. Besides the Habanero as a main ingredient it uses bitter orange juice, which is hard to find here in the states. What I do is mix orange juice, grapefruit juice and a few drops of lime, trying to recreate the flavor of those bitter oranges from the trees at my grandma’s farm. The bitter orange is called naranja agria, cucha or cochi in Mexico where one of the many uses is to marinate meats.
Makes about 1 1/2 cup of salsa
- 8 habanero peppers (you can use any variety)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 3 tablespoons of fresh grapefruit juice
- A few drops of lime or lemon juice”*
- Salt to taste
*Here 4 or 5 drops will be fine. The bitter orange juice has to be a mix between sweet and bitter taste.
**If you are not used to handling hot peppers, use caution while cooking.
***The best remedy for an over dose of hot salsa is a glass of cold milk.
****This salsa is ideal for grilled meats or fish, stewed meats, and, of course tacos.
1. Place the peppers and garlic cloves in a griddle over medium high heat. (They will start developing brown spots). Roast the peppers and garlic, turning regularly to have an even roasting. Garlic cloves will take less time, make sure to remove them promptly after they are roasted. Peel the garlic skins off and let cool. Once you finish roasting the Habaneros, remove them from griddle and cool.
2. Prepare a mix with the orange, grapefruit and lime juices.
3. Place the garlic cloves and habanero peppers (with stems removed) into a molcajete or food processor and form a coarse texture.
4. Slowly add the juice mix and process until you have a finer texture. Serve in a bowl; season with salt and enjoy!
Thanks to the Edelen Family for this Summer Pepper Bounty. And yes, those in the above picture are the Ghost Peppers that, according to the Scoville Scale In 2007, were certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce. However, as of 2012 it was superseded by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.