Edible DC Afield notes from San José del Cabo
By Susan Able
Sometimes a memory is the best thing to bring back from a vacation, and I’ve got a great one that makes a Baja Mexican breakfast with my family instant come alive again by recreating this salsa recipe. Truly, it is better than a T-shirt.
My husband and I with family and friends, recently gathered in San José del Cabo for a wedding at a farm called Acre Baja. Many of our us shared a large rental home near the farm, staffed a lovely women named Hilaria who made breakfast every morning. She would prepare large plates of fresh seasonal fruit, eggs and homemade tortillas, chilaquiles; everything savory was served with a spicy sauce that Hilaria called salsa.
When I typically think of salsa, my first thought is a roughly chopped vegetable onion pepper mix open to creative interpretation (in that it can take a fruity or beany turn) eaten with chips and draped over grilled things. Hilaria’s version was pureed smooth, hot enough to keep everything interesting, particularly scrambled eggs and beans. It has an upfront attention-getting kick, like a slap on the head, then a beautiful slow burn.
Here’s what she did: She took four or five serrano peppers, (and that is important because they have their own distinctive heat rather than say, a jalenpeño) and then a few small roma-style tomatoes. She roasted both of these dry on a grill pan, no oil, till they were all charred. (Be forewarned that there is a fair amount of smoke produced.) Then she simply dumped everything in a blender, added a half of a small onion and a clove of garlic and some salt, poured water in to up to the level of about half of the ingredients, and hit the blend button. Done.
I highly recommend finding serrano peppers and trying this if you like a smoky heat. It’s a wonderful addition to your table.
5 serrano peppers, whole, with seeds, stems removed after charring
3 roma tomatoes
1/4 white onion
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
Sea salt to taste
Heat a grill pan or other heavy pan, such as cast iron, at the highest heat. Add the peppers and tomatoes (no oil) and let them roast until they are charred, turning them as you need to. It will be quite smoky, so use a strong vent or cook when you can open a door or window. (Of course you could do this on an outdoor grill with a grill pan as well.)
When finished charring evenly, put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add a cup and 1/2 of water. Add salt to taste and blend until it is a smooth puree.
Refrigerated in an airtight container, it should last about a week, or you could freeze it.
And of course, a couple of pictures of the wedding venue. Acre Baja (@acrebaja) is near the famous Flora Farms, perched on a hill in San José del Cabo, above the Pacific Ocean and northeast of Cabo San Lucas. It is an organic farm on 25 acres, that also has a restaurant, bar, event space and elegant treehouses for guests accomodations, although they are also building other overnight space. We were greeted by peacocks and a burro named Burrito as we made our way to the pool for cocktails, and then the wedding was in a small field. A beautiful evening to celebrate love.