Salsa is great for gatherings of friends and/or family. There are many variations on the same premise, but basically it’s a salsa fresca that is best if lightly fermented (if you have a bit of time and forethought).
The core of the recipe is a basic pico de gallo; chopped tomatoes, onions, finely chopped cilantro, fresh garlic, Serrano peppers (you can use jalapeño or any other pepper of your liking), freshly squeezed lime, and a bit of salt.
I start preparation by making what I call the flavor bomb:
Let that the flavor bomb sit while you prepare everything else. This will macerate the pepper and garlic as well as infuse the lime juice with garlicky-pepper flavor.
While your bomb is stewing, chop and mix everything else. Add a bit of salt over the tomatoes as well, so they get a bit of maceration and more importantly, the salt will draw out the juice from the tomatoes, which will be useful in the fermentation step.
Once all of the ingredients are chopped and mixed, throw in the flavor bomb and mix it all really well. It’s now okay to eat, but the flavor isn’t quite developed yet.
This is what makes the salsa, in my opinion.
There are loads of microbes all over and inside fresh veggies as well as in the air and on the surfaces of your kitchen. As you are preparing the salsa you are also mixing in the microbes with the salsa and the party starts for them; they feast on the sugars converting them to alcohol and they start replicating, colonizing your salsa—and this is a good thing*!
After you’ve prepared your pico as above, you can cover it and leave it on the counter for several hours for all the flavors to meld and for the microbes to do their thing. At a minimum you want to leave it out all day (finish prep by 10ish and eat around 6ish). It’s even better if you can leave it out overnight, but not much longer. After 12-15 hours of fermenting the flavor gets too fermenty and isn’t as good.
When I leave the salsa out overnight I put it in a bail-top jar that will de-gas itself but keep out the flies and vermin.
Not only are you getting some great veggies while eating this salsa, but because you fermented it, you’re loading up on good probiotics and not that weak-sauce, triple-strain stuff you get in commercial yogurt. This is wild fermentation and you’re likely getting dozens of different strains of microbes. Even better; the strains that thrive in your salsa are naturally resistant to the anti-biotic nature of garlic. Your gut will thank you.
When you’re ready to eat your salsa, drain the juice but keep that magical shit! It’s great to shoot straight or keep for morning Bloody Marys—’cause you’re eating the salsa at a party, right? You’ll need some hair-of-the-dog in the morning! I often keep the juice and let it continue to ferment. More Bloody Mary goodness here.
If you managed to save some of the salsa from the night before, it goes great on eggs!