After a recent visit to Portland, I got hooked on our tour guide's YouTube show, Grandma's Cookin'. In the show, he spends time learning recipes and techniques from grandmothers around Mexico.
In one episode, he makes salsa for memelas with Grandma Imelda. As a former fan of raw salsa only I was fascinated by her method of grilling the tomatoes until blackened before adding them to the salsa. Although I used my indoor grill to make this, I still got a fantastic smoky flavor, which I can only imagine would be heightened by a charcoal grill. Grandma Imelda added raw onion as a finishing touch, but since I can't stand raw onion, I quick-pickled mine before adding it to the salsa. The result is the closest thing I've ever gotten to a restaurant salsa: hot, smoky and just a little chunky. It’s slightly sweet, too, which is tempered with a bit of lime juice. —Erika
Test Kitchen Notes
My husband and I finished off an entire batch of this delicious salsa in one sitting. I cooked the tomatoes and jalapeños over direct medium heat and the garlic cloves over indirect heat on the grill. The tomato mixture blends into a slightly chunky purée, but the lightly pickled onions give it a good amount of texture. A single jalapeño (sans seeds) brings the spice to a mild to medium level. I highly recommend this recipe—next time I will be making a double batch! —hardlikearmour
Combine the vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup hot tap water in a container. Add the onion, cover, and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature.
Grill the tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic until blackened on all sides. The jalapeños and garlic will blacken faster than the tomatoes, so keep an eye on them and take them off when they're done. Set aside to cool.
When cool enough to handle, peel the blackened skin off the garlic and discard. If you want a less spicy salsa, de-seed the jalapeños.
Blend the tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic in a blender with salt and cilantro. Drain the onion and stir your desired amount into the blended tomato mixture. Finish with a squeeze of lime and salt to taste, if needed.