Peanut and Chile Salsa
This Mexican sauce, traditionally made with de arbol chiles, is quite spicy. Small, narrow de arbol chiles are available from plenty of online sources. I’m offering two types of salsa here, a mild version that requires only chili powder and the authentic one. Whichever you choose to make, you’ll find it irresistible; the salsa is great with brown rice and any number of vegetables, grilled or steamed, or with a mixture of brown rice and edamame. The salsa is also wonderful with fish and shrimp.
- 1 tablespoon mild ground chili powder, or 6 de arbol chiles
- 1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, preferably roma tomatoes
- 1 plump garlic clove, skin on
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican
- 1 clove
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
- About 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Salt to taste
1. If using the dried chiles, heat a dry skillet or griddle over medium heat, and toast the chiles just until they change color — a few seconds on each side. Remove from the heat, and place in a bowl. Cover with hot water, and place a saucer on top to keep them submerged. Soak for 15 minutes. Drain and remove the stems.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Cover a baking sheet with foil, and place the tomatoes on top. Place under the broiler a couple of inches from the heat. Broil until blistered and charred on one side, five to six minutes. Using tongs, turn the tomatoes over and repeat on the other side. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool until you can handle them, then cut away the core and transfer to a blender.
3. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet over medium heat, and toast the garlic, turning often, until it smells toasty, has softened and is colored in spots. Remove from the heat. Remove the skin and trim away the root end. Add to the blender, along with the cinnamon, clove, chili powder (or the stemmed, soaked chiles), oregano and peanuts. Blend to a purée, adding a little stock if necessary.
4. Set a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When the oil is hot and a small amount of the purée sears when you add it to the pan, add all of the purée. It will splatter, so have a lid close by. Cook the purée, stirring constantly, until it thickens and darkens, five to eight minutes. Add the remaining stock, and combine well. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened and darkened, eight to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. The salsa should be thick. Remove from the heat, and serve hot or warm, with grains and vegetables (or with fish).
Yield: Makes 1 3/4 cups, serving about six.
Advance preparation: The salsa keeps well for several days in the refrigerator and freezes well. Reheat and stir after thawing.
Nutritional information per serving: 121 calories; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 7 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 32 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during cooking); 5 grams protein