I shamelessly put the canapé first in the title, because the canapé is the money. The salsa and enchilada sauce are the real recipes here. I first developed this particular recipe while living in Thailand. You can make this salsa recipe with fresh tomatoes, but sometimes in Bangkok I couldn’t get good, ripe tomatoes. So I tried making it with their canned tomatoes. It worked. Now I make salsa with only canned tomatoes for three reasons. First is that it lasts longer in the fridge than when using fresh. The tomatoes don’t get mushy since they are already cooked. Second is that it’s just cheaper. The third is that I get to use the tomato sauce from the can to make enchilada sauce. If I had a glut of fresh tomatoes, I might make salsa from fresh. Otherwise, use those fresh suckers in a BLT or a salad or even a simple tomato sandwich. If you make this salsa with fresh tomatoes, you might need to adjust salt, sugar and lime juice for however sweet/sour your tomatoes are.
By the way, this is one of those recipes where you need to play it by ear (tongue?). As in, this is a guideline, a place to start. You have to keep tasting and adjusting with pretty much all the ingredients to get to where you like with your creation.
Joe’s Salsa from Canned Tomatoes
- 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes. I highly recommend Hunt’s or Contadina whole tomatoes as the quality is high. Store brand are often just not as good–but you be the judge. You could also use canned diced tomatoes, but drain them in a strainer (reserve the juice for the enchilada sauce)
- 1/4 onion, very finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped. Don’t grate for this one.
- 2-3 teaspoons of “Chili Seasoning” from a packet. As in seasoning for chili. I never use “Taco Seasoning” as I think it has too much cumin. You can make your own, but Thailand had an awesome brand of chili seasoning (better than any I’ve found here. I use McCormick’s or a store brand these days) and it was just easier and probably cheaper to buy the packet stuff. I do have a recipe for my own mix of this sort of seasoning. If just ONE person comments with a request for it, I’ll publish it. But seriously, this is a great short cut–and I love me them cooking shortcuts.
- Lime, start with a quarter and adjust as needed
- Sugar, start with a teaspoon or two and adjust as needed
- Chili peppers, this part can be complicated. In the USA, I usually use 1 large jalapeno, seeded or not depends on the audience, and finely chopped. Sometimes I use a serrano or two, finely chopped. In Thailand, I used 5 or 6 mouse poop chilies-straight up. I guess you could use a couple tablespoons of finely chopped green bell pepper or just skip this entirely. Adjust this ingredient to who you are making it for or your own personal preference. There is no wrong answer here. Remember, Joe is a major chili-head and loves things spicier than many Americans. And I will not refer to myself in the third person for the rest of this recipe. 🙂
- Cilantro, finely chopped. I’d say at least a tablespoon or as much as you want. I probably use 2 tablespoons or more for one can of tomatoes–but I love cilantro. Can omit.
- 1 tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil.
- Black pepper, I use at least a teaspoon.
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano, very optional. I use it sometimes. Sometimes I don’t.
- Salt, to taste.
Start by piercing the whole tomatoes and removing most of the juice right into the can. Save that juice! That’s the base for the enchilada sauce. Chop the tomatoes to the desired texture and place in a bowl. You could probably use a food processor. Then pretty much just add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Now the seasoning needs to be adjusted but you should wait 15 minutes or so. Add more salt, sugar, lime juice or chili seasoning as needed. This will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
- Leftover tomato juice from the above salsa recipe. Strain to remove any seeds
- Leftover chili seasoning from the above salsa packet
In a pan, add the juice and at half a packet of the chili seasoning. Whisk together and bring to a boil. That’s it. If it thickens too much from your chili seasoning, add water. I use this sauce for burritos as well as enchiladas, but my favorite use is with refried beans. I put some beans on a baking pan, then a layer of this sauce and top with cheese and bake until bubbly. My bean recipe is here, but you can also open a can of already made ones, jazz them up a bit and bake as above.
- Toasted baguette slices or cracker bread
- Sour cream
- Smoked seafood (can use mussels, salmon, oysters anything you can think of)
I had a toaster oven in Bangkok. I would take a french baguette, slice it thin and just toast them in there. Without a toaster oven you could toast them on a baking sheet. If you want to get really decadent, fry them in butter in a pan until crisp. You can also take larger loaves of bread and toast them then cut or break into smaller pieces. If you want to be really lazy, you could use some sort of cracker or Melba toast from a packet.
Start with toast, put some salsa, a dollop of sour cream and top with your seafood. Simple but tastes fantastic.