I got this recipe from a waiter at a small Mexican restaurant that’s about an hour away from where we live. In most of the Mexican restaurants around here, you’re usually offered some tortilla chips and salsa, but the salsa turns out to be just a watery tomato sauce that has no flavor. In this restaurant, however, there were 4 different types of salsas available: “Salsa Verde”, “Pico de Gallo”, “Salsa Roja”, and this particular salsa here. On my first try, I immediately told myself: “This is my kind of salsa!” Just a few drops of it was enough to spice up your meat, tacos, and whatever else you were eating. It is made with roasted “Puya” and Arbol peppers. It’s very hot and does not have any herbs, although you could add some like cumin or Mexican oregano.
Puya peppers are very similar to Guajillo peppers, except they’re smaller. They measure about 2-inches long and about 1/3-in wide, but these peppers are very spicy. They are used in the gastronomy of Central Mexico, and are usually cooked together with Guajillo peppers in salsas and stews. Look for them at your local Latin Store.
- 5 Puya peppers
- 5 Arbol peppers
- 1 small garlic clove, unpeeled
- 1/4 cup of cooking water
- Salt to taste
1. In an ungreased skillet, toast the peppers over a medium heat. This will be a very fast process, since the peppers’ skin burns easily, and that gives them an unpleasant bitter taste, so be sure to turn them and roast the peppers without burning them. About 1 minute.
2 Place peppers in a small saucepan and cover with water. Cook until soft over a medium high heat. About 10 minutes.
3. In the same skillet, roast the garlic until it’s soft and has some brown spots. Cool and remove peel.
4. Once the peppers and garlic have cooled, place them into a blender with 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Process until you have a very smooth sauce and season with salt. This salsa keeps well for several days, and just a few drops is enough to add spiciness to your meals.