Happy Cinco de Mayo! Are you out celebrating? Eating molé, chalupas, and chiles en nogada? You know, the real traditional foods to eat on Cinco de Mayo?? Probably not, right? While those may be the more traditional dishes from Puebla, Mexico, here in America we have switched it up and eat tacos and drink margaritas. If we’re being perfectly honest.
But I did recently have the opportunity to eat at a local restaurant, Bakan, that has authentic Mexican food. Their dining experience is centered around three elements: Nixtamal, Mezcal, and Wood Fire. Nixtamal is their partially cooked corn, which is the key to their tortillas. Along with Mezcal, where they perfectly pair their mezcal with the dish you select to eat. And last but not least, their wood fire grill, creating a smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with their mezcal and homemade salsas. I had their street corn with lemon, chile powder, mayo & cotija cheese as an appetizer and then feasted on their tacos de verduras con mole negro. Tacos in traditional mole sauce that was quite perfect - so much so, I didn’t even take a picture (I was so hungry). Do make a reservation before you go or be prepared to wait.
But back to salsas. They had a wide variety of salsas - red, green, salsa verde, pico de gallo salsa, and many more. And while I didn’t get to try all of their salsas, if you think about it, salsas really do add that finishing touch to a dish. Am I right? Even if you’re not celebrating Cinco de Mayo, everyone loves #TacoTuesday! So a go-to recipe for salsa is a must. Easy to make and something that can take your dish from good to great, it’s a must in your arsenal of easy to throw together recipes. Yes, you can certainly buy a salsa from the store, but let me challenge you to try and make a homemade version, where you get to decide what ingredients go in and also have control over the salt/sodium that goes in. You know, where you can pair it to your liking with whatever you’re making, just like Bakan . First up pico de gallo.
I’m sure we could start a great debate on salsa, should it be chunky like pico de gallo or smooth like a salsa traditionally may be. For me, pico de gallo is what I like to think of as the lazy version, where I don’t have to put it in a food processor. One less step (along with less washing of dishes) and I think we can all agree that makes life easier. Not to mention I think it actually gives more flavor to the meal, tacos or otherwise. While I’m still over here trying to perfect the ratio of my pico de gallo, that raw onion sometimes gets me and sometimes it doesn’t. So in the meantime, I moved on to fruit salsas.
Now I know what you’re thinking, fruit salsa? YES! It’s really a thing. And the best part is you can switch out the different fruits to create a whole new version of salsa that you might never have thought about before. I typically go for a tropical based salsa as it pairs well with fish and well, fish tacos are typically a staple every week of my life. Okay not every week, but you know what I mean. Mango season is just around the corner and when we have mangoes coming out of our ears, mango salsa is just one of the many creative ways we use mangoes. No complaining here! This version I added avocado to the mix and talk about the perfect compliment of tastes and flavors. Will need to replicate this one again this year. The craziest thing about mango salsa is it also changes flavor depending on what mango you use. And with over 500 varieties of mango, the possibilities are endless.
I experimented this past year with a strawberry-mint-basil combination (instead of the typical cilantro that is in salsas. I didn’t think cilantro and strawberry would pair well) and man did I pick the right combination of herbs. Mint is always so fresh, but the basil and strawberry together really was perfection. I served this with fish not in a taco form, but a simple sauteed form and used the salsa as a topping. The acid in the strawberries served the place of where I might typically use lemon or lime.
Enough about all my flavor combinations. Here’s your chance to put together your own combination and change up the onion and cilantro to your pleasing. Because I’ll be honest, even though I’m writing this recipe down for you, it’s a rough estimate. When I’m in a rush, I don’t measure and simply go based on looks and ratios of what I think looks right, but also again to my preferences. If you don’t like onion, you do you and leave it out. Although I always challenge people to at least put a little in. You can always grate it in for some flavor but no chunks. Again, the beauty is that you can create your own salsas. And hopefully they’ll be served with tacos. It is Cinco de Mayo.
2 cups diced mango
1 cup diced avocado
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl, combine the mango, avocado, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice.
Toss to combine and season with a pinch of salt and pepper - remember you can add more OR less onion, cilantro, and even avocado. You do YOU!
Refrigerate the salsa for 30 minutes before serving. Serve immediately after.
*The flavor combinations really are endless: Blackberry-Basil, Peach-Mango, Pineapple-Kiwi. I can’t wait to keep creating and taste them all!
*This particular salsa doesn’t last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days due to the mango and avocado getting too ripe. Make less if necessary to use up what you make. During mango season, I make up a small amount each time I need it.
*Remember, you can always adjust the amount of onion and cilantro. You can even add some tomato, red pepper, or a jalapeno if you like. That’s the beauty of salsa, you can figure out the ratios of how you like it!