Monday, January 22, 2007

Fresh Pico di Gallo

When I first moved here to Switzerland, I really missed mexican food. When I lived in Seattle, I'd have mexican food several times a week. I didn't need to cook it either, having several great places nearby where I could find a great mission burrito almost any time of the day or night. After arriving in Switzerland, I found only this 'Old El Paso' mexican stuff in the stores. And there's a lot of it. Problem is, it's way over processed. However, the salsa in jars is okay, but nothing beats fresh Pico di Gallo with a mexican dinner.

So, I started hunting for ingredients. Tomatoes are easy, good and cheap to find in Switzerland. Onions, more expensive than back home, but no problem. Limes, no problem. Now, the challenging things: Cilantro, okay, not so hard, as it's called 'Korieander' and can be found in the larger grocery stores. But... jalapenos? Well, there are the ones in jars from 'Old El Paso'. They'll do if you're really, really desperate. But, there's a shop called 'El Maiz' near the Bahnhof in Zurich that often has fresh jalapenos (and quite a few other goodies). Now, I live near Basel, but it's worth a trip to Zurich to get fresh jalapenos, and it turns out they'll keep quite nicely in the freezer, stored in a ziplock freezer bag. Make sure to wear gloves while handling the jalapenos, and in any case don't rub your eyes after handling the jalapenos.

Fresh Pico di Gallo

2-3 medium tomatoes, seeded (good quality canned plum tomatoes can be used as instead)
1 small onion
1-2 1/2cm slices of jalapeno (keep the rest in the freezer)
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 package cilantro (to taste, some people don't like this, if you don't, don't put it in)
pinch salt.

To seed the tomatoes, cut in half sideways and use the handle of a small spoon to scoop out the seeds and the watery bits that go with them, leaving just the meat of the tomatoes. Chop the tomatoes and place in serving bowl.

Chop the jalapeno, cilantro and onion together, place into serving bowl, add salt to taste, add the lime juice and mix.

Try it out with a few tortilla chips, or put it over mexican food. We've also found this makes a great topping for Polenta.

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