A Tale Of Two Salsas

I make a lot of my own salsa. Not always, but more often than most. I have general issues with consistency - vegetables giving up so much liquid that the salsa is less useful on tacos and chips because half of it ends up on your shirt or lap. But still, there's nothing quite like homemade salsa.

Over the course of a few days last week, I made salsa twice. The first was of my own design, and the second was largely from a recipe I got off the teevee. The teepee one was tougher to photograph, for what that's worth.

Anyway, what I am calling a "salsa amarillo", after Googling what Spanish for "yellow" was, came from getting a single ear of sweet corn in the CSA box last week. Not much you can do with one ear of corn unless you cut the kernels off and use it as an ingredient. So that's what I did. I took the fresh corn kernels and tried toasting and charring them in a dry cast-iron pan, which worked... OK. The fresh corn being fresh, and wet, it tended to stick and burn instead of toasting nicely the way a nut or a seed would. But it still brought out the flavor.

This was then tossed, in the traditional manner, with salt and pepper and fresh lime juice and garlic and red onion and jalapeno. And slightly non-traditionally, with diced bits of a yellow tomato that also came in the CSA box - I thought it'd be nifty to go yellow-on-yellow for a change.

The second salsa is a bit more interesting, because it's a Michael Symon recipe from his new Cooking Channel show, "Cook Like An Iron Chef". This show is great - it's the antithesis of what they show on the Food Network. Twenty two minutes of nothing but gorgeously shot technique. On his skirt steak episode, he made a tomatillo salsa. I had tomatillos from the CSA. Match made in heaven, if you ask me.

You can find his recipe on the Cooking Channel site - I followed it to about 90% of the letter. It involves grill-charring all the oiled vegetation (shallots, jalapeno, garlic, tomatillos), adding lime juice and zest, and blending until slightly chunky. I deviated in three places - leaving out the cilantro, seeding the jalapenos after I grilled them and they'd cooled a bit, and adding a tablespoon or two of honey when the final blend proved still pretty spicy and a bit bitter (presumably from the farm tomatillos).

Even so, it's a hell of a salsa, with a great complexity from the charring and a freshness from the mostly uncooked tomatillo and lime. I can't even fucking imagine how hot it would be with the seeds and ribs, though. Two jalapenos in about three cups of salsa total is a lot for most people. Or I've been in the Midwest too long and I've been spontaneously regrowing capseicin receptors.