Salsa mexicana, also known as salsa fresca, is the reigning condiment of Mexico. It is found on the tables of both fancy restaurants and neighborhood taquerías. For some reason, in many parts of the country, it is also known as pico de gallo, or "roosters beak," a designation also given to a regional specialty of Jalisco composed of pieces of jicama, with cucumber, melon, or pineapple, all sprinkled with ground dried chiles. The commonality seems to be either the sharply cut pieces of ingredients or the sharp tastes.
The clean flavor and texture of freshly prepared vegetables are essential to this relishlike salsa of hand-chopped tomatoes, crisp white onions, and fiery green chiles, all mixed together with pungent cilantro. Salt is a magnet for flavors, so be generous with its use here.
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
Sea salt to taste
In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, chiles, and lime juice. Sprinkle with salt and toss again. If the salsa is too dry, add a splash of water.
Cover and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle, then serve immediately.
Makes 2 cups.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Mexico, by Marilyn Tausend (Time-Life Books, 2000).