If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might have seen me mention my love of habaneros before. There are some dishes (from the Yucatán Peninsula) that just wouldn’t be the same without some Habanero salsa on the side, like Cochinita Pibil, Papadzules, tacos, etc.
This recipe is rather easy to make; the salsa lasts at least 2 weeks in the fridge, and goes well with grilled meats, roasted chicken, fried fish, and –my favorite– hot dogs. Yes, I said hot dogs. The first time I tried this salsa was at a hot dog street stand in Chetumal, Quintana Roo. With just one bite of that hot dog I was completely blown away, the Habanero salsa really changes the whole concept of the popular American street food. The way to prepare this salsa is very similar to an aioli, but without the eggs, and using Habanero Peppers (by the way, you can also substitute any other pepper, dried or fresh). I also like the árbol pepper version of this salsa.
Habanero Peppers are commonly eaten in the Yucatan Peninsula, and are usually sold fresh to make salsas. They where not readily available all over Mexico until a couple of decades ago, when they started growing in popularity and started to appear even in the northern states of Mexico. Today, I can easily buy them even here in the US. The Habanero Pepper is considered an exceptionally hot pepper by the Scoville Scale. If you are trying this pepper for the first time, and are not used to hot peppers, be sure to have a glass of milk nearby to mitigate the burning sensation after tasting it. I don’t like to add any additional herbs or spices to this sauce, in order to enjoy the aroma and flavor of the Habanero peppers.
MAKES ABOUT 1/2 CUP
6 Habanero peppers
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 1 cup of water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
1. Place peppers, garlic and water in a small saucepan (with the lid slightly covering it) over medium heat and cook until peppers are soft and tender, about 10-12 minutes. You will need to open your kitchen windows to keep the area well ventilated, or turn on the exhaust fan to avoid eye irritation. I live in an apartment, and usually turning on the exhaust fan and placing the lid on the saucepan is enough to avoid any discomfort from the pungent steam coming out of the cooking peppers.
2. Once cooked, remove the peppers and garlic from the saucepan and place into a blender with the remaining cooking water, which by this time has been reduced.
3. Let the peppers cool for some minutes and then turn your blender on to puree the peppers. Open the lid while the blender is still running and slowly add the oil in a steady stream. This last step will emulsify the salsa, giving it a creamy texture. Pour salsa into a small bowl and season with salt. Enjoy with some Steak and Chorizo Tacos!
Now, you tell me… what is your favorite salsa?