When I was dating my husband, his mother taught me how to make pico de gallo. One of the secrets she taught me was “cooking” the onions in lime. I didn’t know much about cooking back then and could not understand why she described onions soaking in lime juice as cooking. What the heck? Now I know. It’s a similar method used to “cook” ceviche – using citric acid to remove some of the rawness. The other secret ingredient I picked up from watching chef Emeril Lagasse back in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. He added a splash of somethin’ somethin’ to his mango salsa mixture.
Below is my recipe for mango salsa. If you prefer pico de gallo, all you need to do is leave out the mango.
1 lime (have an extra one on hand in case your first lime isn’t juicy)
*1 white onion
*3 Roma tomatoes
* = equal parts
1-3 Serrano peppers (depending on your level of spice tolerance; I use just 1 for very mild)
1 bunch of cilantro (washed and dried – pat gently with paper towels and air dry on a paper towel while you chop)
½ – ¾ shot of Tequila (optional; any type will work)
Glass bowl (the flavors just aren’t the same in plastic or ceramic)
In a bowl large enough to hold and toss all ingredients, soak the diced onion in the lime juice as you chop the rest of the ingredients. The onion pieces shouldn’t float in liquid. Use just enough lime juice to coat the pieces.
Chop (the same size as the onion pieces) equal parts tomatoes and mangos. Add a layer of tomatoes on top of the onions and dust lightly with salt. Add a layer of mangos on top of the tomatoes and dust lightly with salt.
Chop cilantro and add on top of the mangos. (I find it easier to use kitchen shears and cut the cilantro over the bowl.)
Slice and seed the serrano peppers. Finely dice them and add to the bowl. The spicier you want it, the more peppers you should use. If you want your tongue on fire, leave the seeds in. For less spice, take out the seeds. Please note that the juice and seeds from these peppers can irritate the skin, so hands should be washed immediately after handling and chopping. (After a few instances of burning even after hand-washing, I started wearing gloves for this step.)
Stir well enough to mix ingredients, but not so roughly that the mangoes and tomatoes disintegrate.
Add tequila if desired and stir again gently.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
If using this as a topping for a warm dish, set out 20-30 minutes before serving to take some of the chill off.
If you keep the leftovers in the glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, this will last another day or two before it becomes too liquidy.
We love to serve this as a topping for chicken fajita tacos, which we serve with my Mexican rice.
Mango salsa or pico de gallo can also be used as a dip for chips.
This or any other Mexican recipe will pair nicely with this Judy 25 top shelf margarita.