Fire Roasted Salsa al Molcajete
E: Every time I make salsa al molcajete, I think of my irreplaceable dad, Fulgencio. Growing up, he always had to have a little heat to go with his meals. His favorite has always been salsas made in molcajete. Till this day, my dad enjoys taking over in making salsas, because he likes it spicy.
The word “molcajete” and “tejolote” is the mexican equivalent to a “mortar” and “pestle.” The words come from the nahuatl language spoken by the Aztecs. My dad believes that salsa made in a molcajete tastes better, and I agree.
There is a saying that if your salsa is spicy, then you made it while you were upset. So when you hear, “estabas enojada” typically means that salsa is too spicy to that person’s liking. But if your salsa is not spicy enough, then it is said that you don’t really know how to make a salsa. Ouch.
Either way, having any type of salsa stocked in your fridge is a must. You will find that I put this on so many recipes. You can put a little bit of it in a guacamole, or on top of huevos rancheros, or avocado-toast. The variations are endless.
You will need a comal (flat griddle) and a molcajete (mexican mortar and pestle)
2 red tomatoes
2 serranos or 3-4 jalapenos
2 garlic cloves
Place the tomatillos, red tomatoes, serranos or jalapenos over a comal on low to medium heat. You want to slowly roast the skin of the tomatoes and chiles.
Tip: Cut a slit on the chiles to avoid them from popping.
You will hear popping sounds. Turn the veggies every two minutes to roast evenly. If you like a sweeter salsa, you can roast the garlic, but I prefer the garlic raw with this salsa. I made both as show in these pictures.
Place the roasted tomatillos and tomatoes in a plastic bag. Cover with a kitchen towel so they remain insulated. Once the chiles are done, add the to the same plastic bag. Let the vegetables continue to steam in the bag for about ten minutes.
Place two garlic cloves in your molcajete. Use the “tejolote” aka “pestle” to smash the garlic and grind it up. Add a pinch of salt.
Take chile out of the bag. Remove the stems and the seeds from the chile if you don’t want it to be that spicy. Then add one chile at a time to the molcajete. Make sure you grind up each chile before adding the other one.
As far as how many tomatillos you will add depends on how spicy you like it. It’s hard to measure exactly how many tomatillos or red tomatoes to use because each chile tends to vary slightly in size and in heat. Usually I start off with grinding up four tomatillos and 1 red tomato. I will add another 2 tomatillos if I have to, then finally another red tomato. Leave the skins of the tomato on, do not peel them.
Add salt to taste.
I’ve made variations of this salsa by adding chopped cilantro and fire roasted garlic, and more red tomato. See picture on left.