Edson and Natalie of London Bridge restaurant Santo Remedio grew up with vibrant flavours of Mexico as part of their everyday lives, from crispy chicken flautas to decadent moles. Here they share with Sous Chef their tips for making great salsas and guacamole at home.
How important are salsas in the Mexican cuisine?
Salsas are integral to Mexican cuisine. You can’t have a Mexican meal without salsas! Every restaurant, taqueria and home will have salsas on the table at mealtimes and their own recipe for a salsa roja, salsa verde or a chipotle salsa to add heat to soups, tacos, or pretty much anything.
There is one type of salsa made with pieces of beehive as well as with insects like chicatana ants.
What are the different varieties of salsa eaten in Mexico?
Salsas are so diverse, it’s difficult to name the varieties as they can all use different chillies, however generally speaking there are two varieties:
- Raw salsa
- Cooked salsa
For example the same tomatillo salsa can be served raw - where all the ingredients are blended together - or cooked, by slowly cooking the tomatillos in an oven or saucepan.
Each family, food stand or restaurant has its preference in which chillies they use in their salsas.
Other salsas might contain only chillies, water, garlic and salt, while some others contain fruit. There is one type of salsa made with pieces of beehive as well as with insects like chicatana ants. Each household and family will be proud of their salsa so the varieties are infinite.
You want to have some fat and some acidity in the salsa to make it great.
How do you make a great salsa?
There isn’t one recipe for making a great salsa, but you have to perfectly balance the spice with the rest of the ingredients. You want to have some fat and some acidity in the salsa to make it great.
What are the key ingredients in making guacamole, and top tips for making it perfectly?
The key ingredient for a perfect guacamole is avocado, and Mexican avocados are the best! Similarly to salsa, each family and restaurant will have a different guacamole recipe, but coriander, onion and tomatoes are a great addition.
Photograph copyright © 2019 Nick Hopper
If you’re adding onion to your guacamole, it’s best to add lime juice when chopping the onion. Another key tip is not to smash the ingredients together, but instead fold them through one another.
Can you talk us through other key sides in the Mexican cuisine?
The Mexican cuisine is slow food at its best. It’s all about grinding, roasting, braising, steaming, and how to balance sauces - the adobos and salsas - that are an integral part of the dish. You always want to be looking to balance spiciness, acidity and fattiness.
Enjoying all of the above elements in a tortilla is great, but there are plenty of other Mexican side dishes, be it:
- black beans,
- cactus salad,
- tomato fried rice, and of course...
- tortilla to scoop up the salsa!