Joined Feb 21, 2002
I have failed numerous times in making salsa. I have followed many recipes as well and every time my salsa turns out to be frothy and watered down tasting. What could I possibly be doing wrong and how do I also achieve that nice dark looking salsa taste instead of a pink whipped tomato sauce?:(
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Cook or drain your tomatoes....the variety of tomatoes matters also...some are meatier than others. Pink? Right now is not a good time in the USA to make fresh tomato salsa...try July/August.
Canned tomatoes may be a better substitute, just drain them in a collander and add your spices, herbs and veg. I like red onions, garlic, jalepino, a squeeze of lime, cilantro in moderation, cumin, salt, pepper, red pepper. If you like it thicker add tomato paste, you made need to add a pinch of sugar or honey to cut the acid.
Joined May 26, 2001
How do you chop the veg? If you use a blender, stop it this instant! :mad: ;) No, seriously, it sounds like you might be over-processing everything -- pureeing instead of chopping, and beating in too much air in the process. If you don't want to chop everthing by hand (best for texture), at least do each veg separately and then mix them all together. That way the softer ones won't puree while the harder ones are still chunking away.

Shroom's ingredient suggestions are good, although I like a LOT of cilantro. I also like to add some diced jicama, for extra crunch and sweetness, and/or red or green bell pepper for the same reasons.

Actually, you can make salsas from all sorts of veg and fruit. If you're interested, I'll post some ideas (and others probably will, too).
Joined Jan 26, 2001
For what I consider a classic salsa, use 3 tomatoes to every 1 onion, plus cilantro, jalapeno, and lime juice. Definitely. And always a little pinch of salt. This is great added to guacamole too!!

Salsa doesn't have to be just one version, either. Add some corn and black beans or olives for extra textures.

Or try making a tomatillo tropical salsa- tomatillos, tomatoes, jalapeno, orange and lime juice, and some various tropical fruits, and that goes well with cheesy stuff like a quesadilla.

We used a hand-version of a food processor, but I totally agree about this not being the time of year to find good tomatoes. Sometimes things just need to sit and soak up each others flavor for a few hours, too. Especially when adding spicy flavors like chipotle or jalapeno.

Chunky is always better!!

Joined Jun 28, 2001
this is what i use as a small garnish for all my grilled and blackend fish.
Makes 1 gallon so adjust to your taste.

12 med Tomatoes, cored, concased( seeds and juice squezed (sp?) out of them, cut in half horizontally and squeze(sp)-- choped coursley

2 bunchesCilantro, finely choped
2 Onions, finely choped
4 each Red, Yellow and Jalapeno peppers---roasted, seeded and choped coursely.

Zest of 2 limes and 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes and 2 lemons

Half a # 10 can of Yellow corn, drained well
Half a #10 can of Black beans, drained really well!!

1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons fresh choped garlic
Kosher salt and Black pepper to taste.

Mix all up and chill.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
I'm with Suzanne - NO BLENDERS! (or processers). If you do use one, just use it for the veg, not the tomatoes. Chop the tomatoes and add in by hand. I've used a good quality canned plum tomato in the winter with good results - even used a good quality smooth tomato sauce, for smooth instead of chunky salsa. Muir Glen is my favorite; their tomatoes and products taste the most like fresh.

I keep it pretty simple and traditional with my basic red salsa - tomato, white onion (which can be soaked after it's chopped in ice water - takes out a little of the bite which can overpower the other flavors), jalepeno or serrano peppers, salt/pepper, and lots of cilantro, and maybe a hit of lime juice if the tomatoes seem too sweet.

Check out Mark Millers book, 'The Great Book of Salsas' for some wild variations!
Joined Jan 11, 2002
My thought is that any recipe can be good if you remember some simple rules:

1)The quality of tomatoes. The best are fresh plum tomatoes (see the relative thread!) which are meaty and have few seeds, otherwise any tomato can be good if it's ripe and not too watery. You may have the best recipe in the world, but you'll never get a good salsa if the tomato quality is poor!

2)The procedure. As others said, never process tomatoes with a blender. Chop them by hand. If you have more time, plunge them in boiling water for 1-2 mins and then peel and seed them before chopping. If you have even more time, when the salsa is ready push it through a sieve.

3)The time. Don't be in a hurry...a good salsa needs a LOT of time. When all the ingredients are into the pot, lower the heat to the minimum, cover the pot and leave the salsa quietly bubbling until it's thick enough. As the neapolitan writer Giuseppe Marotta said, the salsa "Doesn't THINKS!" (To tell the truth, the sentence referred to the Ragù alla Napoletana...:) )

Just my 2 cents!


BTW...For a long time now I have wondered WHAT IS CILANTRO! Could you answer me please?
Joined Apr 19, 2001
Hi, Pongi - Cilantro is a variety of the coriander plant, only you just use the leaves, not the seeds as you do coriander. It doesn't taste anything like coriander seeds. If you've had Indian food, you might have had cilantro on or in it. The Indians make a 'coriander chutney' which is actually a 'cilantro chutney'. The leaves look similar to Italian flat leaf parsley.

The taste is a little bitter, and sharp - folks usually either love or hate it (one woman told me she thought it tasted like dirty dish water, although how she knew what dirty dish water tasted like I don't know!). It's also used extensively in Mexican/Caribbean/South American dishes, both as a flavoring agent and garnish.

I make pretty traditional Mexican type salsas, as I said, and these are mostly all uncooked salsas, although I have seen some cooked ones. You're right, though that the tomato is the king of this sauce - without a good tomato product, you just have a watered down salsa.

I have a question for you, Pongi, regarding the canned San Marzano tomatoes - what are they usually packed in, in Italy? A lot of the canned tomatoes here are packed in a tomato puree, and it seems the manufacturers use a lot of it for 'filler' in the can, so they don't have to put as many tomatoes in!
Joined Jan 11, 2002
Thanks for your reply Marmalady!
So, Cilantro is what I've always called "Coriander Leaves" an Indian cooking lover, I have found it many times in indian recipes, but never with that name. Since it's almost impossible to find it here in Italy (otherwise than coriander seeds, which are easily available) I usually substitute it with parsley leaves.
From your reply I have also realized that with the term "salsa" you all referred to a Mexican style, raw one and that I went off the subject when speaking about our cooked tomato sauces! In any case, maybe my advices 1) and 2) can be valuable also for mexican cooks...:)
As for canned tomatoes, the Italian ones are packed in a tomato puree as well. I have never thought about this point, but suppose that many tomatoes break during the processing phases and the pieces are recycled making that puree and using it to fill the cans...otherwise, canned tomatoes would be much more expensive!
Does this make sense?

Joined Apr 19, 2001
Hi, Pongi, Most of the Mexican salsas are raw, but as I said, there are some cooked ones, also; a green sauce made with tomatillo, which is a relative of the gooseberry, is cooked; also some 'ranchero' salsas are cooked, when a blending of several ingredients is desired.

Yes, coriander leaves are cilantro! Why don't you try to obtain some seed, and grow your own? The flavor is really quite unique, especially if you cook Indian cuisine, and parsley just isn't the same. or if you have access to an Indian grocery store, sometimes they sell cilantro in a jar - i know, it's not as good as fresh, but if you're using it in a sauce, it might be better than parsley.

Thanks for your thoughts on the tomatoes, too! I've looked for tomatoes packed in 'tomato juice' instead of puree, but haven't had much luck.
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