Cilantro salsa is a thick and chunky sauce typically made with diced tomatoes mixed with certain other ingredients and heavily flavored with cilantro. Salsa itself has many variations, and cilantro can be added to just about any type. True cilantro salsa, however, is generally made from a very basic salsa recipe. While several types of salsa can be found on store shelves in jars, given the nature and flavor of cilantro salsa, it is best enjoyed fresh, not prepackaged.
Cilantro is an herb with small, broad leaves and is similar in appearance to parsley. It has a distinctive, somewhat pungent aroma and a slightly sweet, tangy flavor. The herb can be found in dried form, but it tends to lose some of its flavor when dried. In order to give cilantro salsa its full-bodied taste, most chefs recommend using fresh cilantro only. When using fresh cilantro, the leaves are typically removed from the stems, and only the leaves are chopped and added to the salsa.
The word salsa means sauce. It is derived from the Latin word for salt, which was typically used to describe something that added spice or zest to life. Therefore, salsa itself is traditionally a spicy dish, although the amount of spice is often modified to suit a person’s individual tastes.
Generally, traditional salsa is made with tomatoes, green onions, chili peppers, and jalapeño peppers, all coarsely chopped and stirred together into a thick and chunky sauce. Lime juice and olive oil are usually added to the mix, along with salt, pepper, and garlic. There are many variations to salsa in which different ingredients such as mango or black beans are added. Sometimes, tomatillos, which resemble small green tomatoes, are used in place of red tomatoes, resulting in a green-colored salsa often referred to as salsa verde.
Although cilantro can be used to flavor any variation of salsa, most cooks will create a true cilantro salsa by using a traditional and basic salsa recipe. The cilantro is usually added at a ratio of 1 cup (about 0.24 liters) of chopped fresh cilantro for every 10 medium-sized tomatoes used. This ratio gives the salsa a very strong cilantro taste and can be varied depending upon individual preference.
Many types of salsa can be found in jars on grocery store shelves. The true flavor of cilantro salsa, however, does not usually come through in jarred salsa. This is due to the fact that cilantro, when processed and jarred, will tend to lose its potent flavor. Consequently, this particular salsa is at its best when it is made with fresh ingredients.
Like salsa itself, cilantro salsa has many uses. For instance, it can be used as a dip for tortilla chips or corn chips, or it can be added as a topping for nachos or tacos. The salsa can also be used as a condiment on top of foods such as burgers or hot dogs. Many people also use it as a spice for cooking, especially when baking fish or chicken. Basically, the possibilities for this spicy and flavorful sauce are limited only by a person’s imagination.