Pico de gallo, also known as salsa fresca, is one of my favorite sides when enjoying a classic Mexican dish. The flavors are fresh and balanced, and it adds a spunk of flavor to tacos, quesadillas, and even tortilla chips.
What is Pico De Gallo?
Pico de gallo translates to “beak of rooster” in Spanish. It was given this name because originally people would eat it by pinching the ingredients between their thumb and index finger. And this hand gesture looks similar to the beak of a rooster.
Nowadays, we eat salsa fresco with tortilla chips, but back in the day they had their own way of doing things.
What’s the difference between pico de gallo and salsa?
Let me put it this way, pico de gallo is a type of salsa, but salsa is not pico de gallo. Pico de gallo is a fresh, uncooked mixture that is chunkier in consistency. You can visibly see each chopped up ingredient in it. Meanwhile, salsa is cooked and a thinner consistency. Salsa can be left chunky or pureed, but it has more liquid regardless.
Another thing is, the ingredients for salsa are interchangeable. You’ll find a variety of recipes making salsa with all types of different chiles and vegetables. Meanwhile, the ingredients for a this recipe are fairly consistent.
So what makes this recipe different?
Well, remember earlier when I mentioned that this is a fully uncooked recipe? Well, there’s going to be a tiny bit of cooking in my recipe. Instead of chopping up raw tomatoes, with the guts and all that involved, we are going to be making tomato concasse.
What’s that you may ask? Well it’s French for “crushing” and refers to a cooking technique that involves scoring, boiling, and peeling. Once peeled, the seeds are removed to eliminate any bitter tastes, and then the tomato is diced. And what you’re left with is a perfect tomato that’s ready to be enjoyed raw.
Then just add the classics…
You know, red onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, etc… you get the idea. Salsa fresca is a true classic, so messing around with these ingredients isn’t recommended. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t add some extra ones…
I like adding tomato juice to the mix because I prefer my salsa to have some liquid to it. And I don’t want to add an unreasonable amount of lime juice, so I add more tomato flavor to the dish! Adding tomato juice really changed the game for me, so definitely give this a try. I also add a bit of olive oil to balance the flavors.
Lastly, one ingredient I don’t want you to forget is cumin. It adds a layer of warmth to the salsa fresco. But be careful, it’s easy to go overboard with the cumin! And if you’re making this one ahead of time, the longer the flavors sit together, the stronger the cumin flavor will be. Be use to use it sparingly, but do not skip it!
Pico De Gallo Salsa Fresca Recipe
- Slotted spoon
- Mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp cilantro minced
- ½ red onion finely diced
- ½ jalapeno finely diced
- ½ lime juiced
- ¼ cup tomato juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp cumin
- To taste salt and pepper
- Fill pot with water and bring to boil
- Score the tomatoes with a knife by cutting an X on the bottom side.
- Place the tomato on slotted spoon, and place into boiling water for 30 seconds.
- Remove tomato from water and place onto cutting board.
- Use knife to pull back the skin from the X marked earlier.
- Onced peeled, remove guts and seeds and then finely chop.
- Add chopped tomatoes and the rest of the listed ingredients to bowl. Enjoy!
- You don’t have to use all of the red onion or jalapeno listed. If you’re not a fan of onion, or don’t care for spicy foods, then use these ingredients minimally as adding the quantity listed in the recipe may not work for you. Add a little at a time and taste as you go.
- Scoring the tomatoes before boiling them makes peeling them later way easier. Don’t skip this step.
- Using the tomato concasse technique ensures that any bitter flavors in the tomato don’t make it to our pico de gallo. Don’t skip this step.
- Cumin is completely optional but highly recommended. Taste as you go to avoid adding too much, but do remember that the flavors strengthen as they sit.