Alright, straight up, I'm in love with Mexico and I feel a little bit like I'm cheating on her by living in Korea. To make it more complicated. Mexican food can become a bit, shall we say, misunderstood when it makes the jump across the ocean. Now, I haven't figured out why this is but I'm determined to set it right without importing everything from home... because that's already been imported from Mexico. Bad carbon usage, bad. On the other hand, if it's not "authentic" I'm not eating it.
So, first things first, we've got to master the basics: Salsa
PREPARE THE TOMATOES
- FIRST: Bring a big pot of water to a boil.
- SECOND: Cut out where the tomato vine attaches and cut an X on the bottom. Put the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanch until the skin starts to come off.
- THIRD: Take tomatoes out and peel, putting into a bowl. I use a spoon and tongs so that I don't burn my self.
- FOURTH: Smash/Mash the tomatoes and drain off extra liquid, but not tomato juices until you like the texture.
PREPARE THE WHITE OR YELLOW ONIONS:
- FIRST: Cut the onion up into small pieces, but not as small as you would do for Pico De Gallo.
- SECOND: Lightly saute the onions in oil. Don't cook through, we are just softening them up a little so that their flavor mellows. It is better to cook them less than more.
- THIRD: Add onions to Tomatoes.
PREPARE THE GARLIC
- FIRST: Peel and mince into small pieces.
- SECOND: In the same pan as the onion, add a table spoon or two of oil to a pan and brown the garlic. This soften the flavor of Korean garlic so that it enriches the salsa instead of overpowering it.
- THIRD: Add the garlic to the tomatoes.
- FIRST: Grind coriander the seeds well however you can. There are many solutions to this. I have found that people who are unfamiliar with cilantro leaves are often still ok with ground cilantro/coriander seeds. On the same note, if you love fresh cilantro and can't find it, freshly ground coriander seeds will help fill that void in your life.
- SECOND: If you find cilantro (it's usually carried in any "world" market). Chop it up into VERY fine pieces. The smaller they are the easier it is for folks new to the flavor to enjoy it. I've had success with very picky local eaters LOVING cilantro as long as I didn't go cray cray with it.
- THIRD: Add to salsa and mix well.
- FIRST: Dice up the green onion and toss it it in. We like the fresh, light "crunch" of it.
- SECOND: Add lemon or lime to taste. (you can get limes grown on Jeju if you are particular like we are :)
- THIRD: Add sea salt to taste. (We believe sea salt is a critical part of the flavor, but if you only have basic salt we are sure you will still be happy.)
- FOURTH: Optional ingredients. Sometimes we want to take it to the next level and add a bit of Korean chili powder and about 1/4 cup of jalapenos which are imported.
COOKING NOTE: Cilantro and coriander are the same plant. The Korean palate understands cilantro/coriander seeds better than cilantro leaves. I have found that substituting ground coriander. Also, this salsa can be easily frozen for later.