Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pico de gallo

This is a very basic, simple, easy-to-make fresh accompaniment to traditional mexican food. It is not, strictly speaking, a salsa, since salsa means sauce and this is not a liquid. It makes an excellent topping for simple authentic tacos (no iceberg lettuce or sour cream), goes great with high-quality corn tortilla chips, and you can stir some into a bowl of crushed avocadoes for an authentic guacamole. Note that if served with chips, this will disappear quickly, so set some aside for the main course if necessary. Other ideas: mix with canned tuna or pre-cooked shrimp for what I call poor-man's seviche, or mixed with canned or pre-cooked beans for a delicious cold bean salad.

Ingredients: (adjust proportions according to your taste)

4-6 tomatoes (preferably roma or plum tomatoes)

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

3-4 fresh green onions (freshness is very important here. Use half a white or yellow onion if the green onions at the store don't look fresh enough)

1-2 chiles serranos (these look like skinny jalapeƱos; jalapeƱos can also be used)

juice of 1-2 limes

pinch of salt

drizzling of olive oil (optional)

Finely chop all the ingredients, stir together in a large bowl and serve. I recommend chopping the onions, then the chiles (very finely), then squeezing the limes on top of these to mellow the flavor of the onions and let the lime juice take on the heat of the chilies. This will help spread the flavors and heat evenly throughout every bite.

There are five ingredients (aside from the salt), and I find this makes it easy to remember to pick up all of them when shopping. (Hint: there are most likely five fingers on your hand, which can be used for counting purposes)


  1. This is exactly like the pico de gallo I make. Everything I know about mexican food I learned from a cookbook by Chef Rick Bayless. I highly recommend the book. It is called Authentic Mexican and it has a wealth of information about traditional cooking techniques and ingredients. I have had my copy for 20 years and they have just released a 20th anniversary edition. Here is the Amazon link: . I have made alot of the recipes in the book and am currently trying to drum up the courage to attempt tamales.

  2. Hey, I have that book, too!

    We made tamales at xmas. They are indeed difficult and labor intensive. Linda says that's why they're only made at xmas, traditionally. I'll post the photos and maybe a recipe tomorrow.