At the international store, I always catch myself staring at the wall of dried chile peppers, whispering the lyrical names- ancho, pasilla, guajillo, habanero- and this time, I actually remembered to buy a pack of the chiles de arbol.
A hunt for a salsa recipe yielded this recipe on Slashfood that comes from a Mexican chef, and it seemed like a good place to start. With only 5 ingredients- chile de arbol, tomatillos, olive oil, onion and cilantro- I knew that this salsa would have clean flavors at the very least. Here's how I made the salsa.
Chile de Arbol Salsa
Inspired by a recipe on Slashfood
7 tomatillos, cut into quarters
10 chiles de arbol
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ onion, chopped roughly
Handful of cilantro leaves, chopped roughly
¾ cup water
Salt to taste
1. Heat oil and saute the chiles de arbol briefly.
2. Add tomatillos and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatillos collapse.
3. Turn off the heat. Add onion and cilantro and let the mixture cool for a bit.
4. Blend it into a thick salsa. Add salt to taste.
I scrambled around to grab a spoon and taste the salsa as soon as it was ready. The color of the salsa was disappointingly insipid, but it tasted pretty darn close to the stuff in the restaurant!! These are FIERCE peppers- apparently the chile de arbol only rate in the middle of the Scoville heat scale, but their heat is searing and I used a lot of them in this salsa.
Next time I make this salsa, there are some tweaks I might try, based on other recipes I found on the web, such as using a combination of tomatillos and red tomatoes (to give it the bright red color "just like in the restaurant"), adding a bit of garlic or roasting the tomatoes and tomatillos for a smoky flavor, but I love this version of the salsa already.
I'm sending a bowl of this fiery salsa to the Monthly Mingle: Mexican Fiesta edition.