International Salsa 18.000

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

Smackdown VI Feb 1, 2012

The title sounds like a ballroom dance category, but it reflects the inspiration of ingredients found in a market that caters to the Latin, Asian and Indian communities. This is a bit of a kitchen-sink approach that lends depth and a bit of salty-sweetness to hours of snacking.

The ingredients in this crowd-friendly recipe are available at Lotte stores. Serve with tortilla chips, or if you're game, with a bowl of a sweet-salty Indian mix of spiced puffed rice, dried peas and peanuts known as khatta meetha.

Make Ahead: The salsa is best served after it has had a chance to rest and meld flavors, so assemble the jalapeno mixture and the tomato-cucumber mixture (keeping them separate; this is key) for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day in advance.

Servings: 18

Yield: Makes about 9 cups

  • 5 large jalapeño peppers (about 6 ounces total)
  • 3 medium-to-large poblano peppers (about 9 ounces total)
  • About 2 pounds red/ripe-looking greenhouse/vine-ripened tomatoes, each cut horizontally in half
  • 2 bunches (12 to 16 total) scallions, white and light-green parts, cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 small red bird's eye chile pepper, stemmed but not seeded (1/4 ounce)
  • 1 large dried pasilla ancho pepper, such as Christopher Ranch brand, stemmed but not seeded (about 1/2 ounce)
  • Freshly squeezed juice from 3 limes (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large (14 ounces) sweet onion, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 large (16 ounces) daikon radish, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 large (13 to 15 ounces each) seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Flesh from one ripe Ataulfo (Champagne) mango (3/4 cup)
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons fish sauce, or more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Leaves and tender stems from 1 large bunch cilantro (about 2 1/2 ounces total)
  • Khatta meetha, such as Haldiram's brand, for serving (optional; see headnote)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Arrange the jalapeno and poblano peppers on one sheet, and the tomatoes, cut sides up, on the second sheet, placing the peppers on the middle shelf and the tomatoes on the lower shelf. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the peppers are fragrant and browned.

Let the tomatoes cool on the sheet, then remove and discard their skins.

Discard the stems and large seed pod attached inside the roasted peppers, leaving other seeds in the peppers. Transfer the peppers to a blender or food processor. Let cool for 10 minutes, then add the scallions and bird's-eye pepper.

Tear the dried pasilla ancho pepper into small pieces, letting them and the seeds fall into the blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of the lime juice; puree until smooth. The yield is about 1 1/4 cups. Transfer to a food-safe resealable plastic bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

While the peppers and tomatoes are roasting, use the food processor to finely chop the garlic, onion, radish and cucumbers, working in batches and transferring to a large mixing bowl as you work. The mixture should not be chunky.

Combine the cooled, peeled tomatoes and the mango in the food processor; puree until fairly smooth, then stir into the garlic-onion mixture until well incorporated. Add the fish sauce (to taste) and season with the black pepper to taste. The yield is about 6 cups. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

About 30 minutes before serving, transfer the jalapeno mixture and the tomato-cucumber mixture to the countertop to come to a cool room temperature. Finely chop the cilantro in the food processor to yield about 1 1/2 loosely packed cups, then stir into the tomato mixture along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice.

Taste each mixture; adjust the fish sauce or black pepper in the tomato mixture as needed. Add 1/4- or 1/2-cup increments of the jalapeno mixture to the tomato mixture at a time, tasting to achieve the desired level of heat. (At this point, you can divide the salsa between 2 large bowls to offer mild and bold versions for your guests.) Keep tasting and stirring until the salsa(s) are how you like them.

If desired, pour the khatta meetha into a bowl and serve alongside the salsa(s), for sprinkling on top a serving of salsa. It will add crunch, sweetness and spice.

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Recipe Source

From interim Food editor Bonnie S. Benwick.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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