Salsa de Tomitillo con Pasilla de Oaxaca

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Taking the chile paste we made the other day, now it’s time to make a salsa. This is essentially the Diana Kennedy recipe for Salsa Cruda but we add the passila de Oaxaca instead of serranos (or as I have been substituting, a chile de agaua). The character of the smoked pasillas is so dominate and so flavorful, the salsa needs to be named after them.

Salsa de Tomitillo con Pasilla de Oaxaca

Makes about 2 cups (500ml)

18 medium tomatillos , husked
5 chiles pasilla de Oaxaca, cleaned, seeded, toasted, and made into a smooth paste
4 large garlic clove chopped
1 cup loosely packed roughly chopped cilantro
Salt to taste.

Put the tomatillos into a small pan. barely covered with water, bring to a simmer, and simmer until soft but not falling apart – they will become a washed-out green color – about ten minutes. Drain and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Put 1/4 cup of the cooking water into a blender with the chiles, cilantro, and garlic and blend until smooth. Gradually add the cooked tomatillos and blend briefly after each addition. the sauce should have a slightly rough-tectured appearance. Add salt. The salsa will thicken as it stands and may need to be diluted with a little more water

Now my salsa is fruity and tart and smokey and surprisingly not killer hot. It has bite and a long lingering burn, that is very tolerable and probably not up to real chile head standards. Zarela Martinez has a recipe for a Salsa de Chile Pasilla de Oaxaca which uses red tomatoes and is sweet and is nice and hot because you do not seed the chile.

Salsa de Chile Pasilla

Makes about 2 cups

3 medium-small ripe tomatoes
1 pasilla de Oaxaca
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon dried Oaxacan oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Place the tomatoes and chile in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Drain and let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel the tomatoes and remove the stem from the chile.

Place the tomatoes and the chile in a blender with the onion, garlic, and oregano. Process until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

But when it came time for me to make the salsa I deviated a bit because of the suberb quality of the Huayapam tomatoes and my liking of garlic over onion.

Salsa Rojo de Chile Pasilla de Oaxaca

Makes about 2 cups

4 ripe Roma tomatoes
2 pasilla de Oaxaca
1/4 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon dried Oaxacan oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Proceed pretty much as before although I stemed the chiles before boiling. I also trimmed out the green point of the tomatoes while peeling them. This is still not atomic level hot and the addition of a chile de arbol might be called for. Just adding more pasilla de Oaxaca would spice it up but would also unbalance the smoke flavor.