the appetizer:

Mexican cuisine combines the traditional indigenous foods of the Aztecs and Mayas, like chocolate, corn, tomato, avocado, beans and chile peppers, with the meats, rice and garlic brought to Mexico by the Spanish conquistadores.

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Charred Habanero Salsa

Makes about 1 cup

Salsas in the Yucatan are usually quite simple, while recados tend to make the dishes they season complex. Perhaps that is why simplicity is seen as a virtue when it comes to salsas. But I think there is another reason: the habanero chile, reputedly the hottest pepper in the world. In addition to the heat, habaneros have a citrusy aroma and flavor that are best savored on their own. This salsa is the classical accompaniment to meats and seafood cooked in achiote. Try it on Grilled Squid Yucatan Style. There are variations with onion, orange juice, and mint, but this simple version is my favorite.

3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, pan-roasted until blistered, deeply browned, and soft
3 habanero chiles, pan-roasted until dark brown, then seed cores removed
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Use within several hours.

La Parilla: The Mexican Grill
By Reed Hearon
Photographs by Laurie Smith
Chronicle Books, 1996
Price: $19.95, paper
ISBN: 0-8118-1034-8
Reprinted by permission


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This page modified January 2007