Friday, July 12, 2013

Pico de gallo

Pico de gallo, or salsa fresca, is a staple in my kitchen - especially since we moved to Hong Kong where good Mexican food was severely lacking until very recently. The one decent place in Hong Kong for Mexican food is Brickhouse, but a single taco will set you back US$7 for a tiny taco that would cost $1-2 in San Francisco - that's after you wait an hour for a table. I love good food - especially good Mexican food - but I have two basic tenets: 

1) I abhor overpaying for food. That doesn't mean I eat only cheap food, because I will happily spend $300 on an exquisite sushi or kaiseki meal, or $500 for a meal that I think is life changingly good. But I won't pay $7 for a taco that I know should cost me $2.
2) I hate waiting for a table at overhyped restaurants that refuse to take reservations like civilized people. Hong Kong's biggest offenders: Brickhouse and Yardbird (not that they care what I think, since they have more customers than they can handle)

But I digress. Pico de gallo - one of the easiest condiments to prepare for a fresh addition to Mexican food, fish, meat, chicken, chips...basically goes with almost anything.

4 firm plum tomatoes (other tomato varieties will work too, but I like the flavor of plum tomatoes for this salsa)
1/2 medium white or red onion
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 small lime
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
A good sprinkling of Maldon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon of sweet paprika. All paprika is not created equal. My favorite brand is Caballo de Oros pimenton de la vera dulce, produced in Spain. If you live in a humid location, such as Hong Kong, leaving out paprika at room temperature can result in tiny larvae/bugs hatching (I almost fainted the first time I discovered them) so to avoid, keep your paprika in the freezer in an airtight container
3 or 4 squirts of chipotle Tabasco
A generous glug of good quality olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together, add salt to taste, and store in the refrigerator for at least half an hour before serving. The salsa will keep for 3-4 days.