Thursday, May 01, 2003

I've never posted a recipe before, but this one's easy, and like all Bug House specialties, it's completely anarchic. Everything in it is "to taste". If there's something in it that you don't like, reduce the amount or leave it out. If there's something in it that you love, add more of it. If there's something you really think needs to be in it that isn't, toss it in and let me know how it works out. Anyway, here's one of our favorite condiments, if you can call something that we routinely scarf down by the pint a "condiment". It's fun to make in either an electric food processor or an elbow-grease-powered chopping jar.

Julie's Pico de Gallo

2 or 3 plum tomatoes
1 large tomatillo
1 small white onion
Hot or mild peppers (see below)
1 generous handful fresh cilantro (don't use the dried stuff)
Fresh lime juice (squeeze 1/4 to 1/2 lime into the mix; don't use the bottled stuff)
Salt to taste (about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon should do it; start light because you can always add more.)
Dash of white or brown sugar (about 1/4 teaspoon)

Cut vegetables into large chunks and place in the food processor. Add other ingredients. Regarding the peppers: Regulate the chemical potency as follows.

For basic, peppy version: 1/2 of a fresh medium-sized jalapeno. (I take the seeds out.)
For fiery version: 1 whole fresh jalapeno (or even more if you're a pyromaniac).
For mild version: Green bell pepper (1/4 to 1/2 of an average size pepper).

Once they're all in the food processor, let 'er rip. I told you it was easy. Great with chips, vegetables, rice, beans, the works.

As an interesting aside: The other night, I made a batch that was almost too hot even for me; it had a whole large jalapeno (minus seeds) in it, and of course you can't judge the heat of any given jalapeno without actually biting into it. Rick and I ate it anyway, with black beans and rice and tortilla chips, and then sliced up a ripe mango for dessert. Then I remembered that a Malaysian-born friend once served us an amazing salad containing cucumbers, onions, ferociously hot raw peppers, and -- sliced mango. I shoveled some of the remaining pico de gallo onto a fresh mango slice, and ... wow! The fruit flavor cut right into the heat, and there was just something about the combination of fresh lime juice, vegetables, and mango that was utterly perfect. (Hey, they combine mangoes, limes, and hot spices in chutneys, right?) I'm not sure I'll ever be able to eat a mango again without a jalapeno chaser. Or vice versa.


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