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Salsa

Spice It Up with Salsa

By Eric Vinje, Cosmic Chile

People have been spicing up their meals with hot salsas for hundreds of years.

In fact, salsa, the condiment, not the dance, has been around for centuries and can be traced back to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas of present-day Mexico.

In the United States, salsa, which means "sauce" in Spanish, has outsold ketchup since the 1990's. And there are just as many variations of salsa, if not more, as there are ways to make a good spaghetti sauce.

For example, most American salsas contain tomato. But the tomato in a homemade salsa can be fresh and raw, cooked or even tomato paste. It's up to the maker. (Originally salsas from Mexico didn't contain tomatoes and mainly used chiles, tomatillos and ricado, a blend of spices.) Although hot peppers predominate, salsas can also be spiced up with ingredients such as cilantro, cumin and oregano. Some folks even add garlic to their salsas.

Beans are another healthy variation to the salsa mix. Black beans tend to be the bean of choice for salsa makers because of their texture and taste. They are low in fat and also contain protein and fiber. A final advantage to beans: they "mellow out" the heat from the peppers added to salsas, particularly hotter chile peppers such as habanero, serrano or even jalapeno.

Sweet salsa ingredients can include mango, passion fruit, papaya, raspberries, as well as lemon, lime, orange and chiles. Some people add plantains or even nuts. Pretty much any fresh sauce can be a salsa.

The major traditional types of salsa include: salsa cruda, picante, salsa fresca, salsa rojo and salsa verde.

Salsa cruda means uncooked and is made from finely chopped uncooked ingredients such as raw tomato, hot chiles, peppers, onion and cilantro.

Picante means "hot and spicy," and is usually just a thinner sauce than your typical salsa cruda.

Salsa fresca means "fresh sauce" and is your typical American salsa. It's usually a mixture of chopped tomatoes, chiles and onions.

Salsa rojo literally means "red sauce" and its foundation is the tomato.

Salsa verde means "green sauce" and it is typically made from tomatillos, which are green. (For the record, tomatillo is not a tomato, in spite of its name, but instead is a reportedly a relative of the gooseberry. It is a tart, green fruit with a papery husk. It resembles a green, unripe tomato in appearance.)

Our offerings at Cosmic Chile show how many different kinds of salsa exist. Offerings range from a traditional salsa like Jose Goldstein's XXX Garlic, made out of habanero peppers and plenty of fresh garlic, to something more exotic like Cranberry Orange Salsa, which contains bright red cranberries, jalapeno peppers, fresh oranges, onions and spices.

Salsa is not only fun, it's healthy. Their major ingredients are vegetables which are low in calories, rich in vitamins and are low fat.

They are simple to prepare and an easy way to dress up grilled chicken, fish, meat or pork for a quick meal during the week. Salsa is also a great snack when paired with chips.

So next time you run out of something to have for a quick, but fun dinner during the week, try adding a little salsa to your entree.







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Original Juan Jose Goldstein XXX Garlic Salsa
Jose Goldstein XXX Garlic Salsa



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