Sunday, July 21, 2013

Salsa Mexicana Classica (Pico de Gallo) and Taco Loco in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Back in April my husband and I took a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for our tenth wedding anniversary.  We landed at the airport early in the day, and it was still a little too early for check in, so we decided to check out downtown Cabo.  Our original plan was to go to Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina, but on our way there we found a gem of a restaurant, Taco Loco.
Taco Loco is inside Plaza de los Mariachis, right in front of the Cabo Wabo Cantina.  I'm not sure how Sammy Hagar keeps his place in business, because the aromas coming from Taco Loco cannot be ignored.
If the aromas don't draw you in, then the charming outdoor ambiance surely will.  There are little wooden tables and festive music as you dine outside, right in the middle of the marketplace.
You might buy a necklace, bracelet, and earrings from this sweet little lady.  Or, you might even eye up a hammock while you're drinking and dining (as my husband did).
You will, for sure, be approached by several mariachis.  Believe me, you don't want to pass up a performance.  The mariachis were very happy, extremely entertaining, and always had us laughing.  Felipe (pictured above) was our absolute favorite.  Felipe has a fantastic sense of humor and a zest for life that is unparalleled.  When he performs he gives it his all...and then some.  He sang me a version of Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl  (even though I have blue eyes) that had us laughing so hard we cried.  Felipe was probably the happiest person I'd ever met in my life.  I think I'll remember him forever.
Taco Loco's food is fresh and delicious. We sampled so many delicious dishes (fish tacos, shrimp tacos, grilled shrimp, chicken burritos, bean and cheese nachos, and some of the most delicious margaritas).  However, my very favorite thing was the salsa bar.  When the waiter delivered your plate he would give you a bowl for salsa and toppings.  Or, you could simply take your plate over to the salsa bar and load up.  There was a rainbow of salsas and toppings to chose from!  
Lucky for me, I happened to try their Pico de Gallo on our first day there because it was CRAZY good! I'd never been much of a salsa/pico fan before, but this stuff was life-changing!  It was screaming with fresh flavor and just the right amount of heat. I found myself craving it enough that I had to go to Taco Loco for a daily fix.  Each visit I would fill my salsa bowl to capacity and put that pico on everything I possibly could.   

I vowed to make Pico when I came home from vacation, but I wanted to wait until I could get my hands on some fresh summer tomatoes.  This recipe comes from the king of Mexican cooking, Rick Bayless, and it is pretty spot on.  It takes some time to chop all the ingredients, but it is so worthwhile.  This seems like a simple, already done-that kind of recipe, but a bowl of salsa like this is very inspiring.  You will find yourself wanting to put this salsa on everything.  

I turned a rather boring meal of grilled chicken, white rice, and smashed black beans into a real fiesta by adding a scoop of this salsa.  Later that night, I made a plate of nachos with chicken, beans, cheese and salsa on top, which the kids went crazy for.  Then in the morning I topped my scrambled eggs with the salsa.  My bowl of salsa was empty in no time.  Now I'm back to stalking my tomato plants and dreaming of Cabo!


Salsa Mexicana Classica
(Essential Tomato-Serrano Salsa)
by Rick Bayless
found on Epicurious
Makes 2 cups


12 ounces (2 medium-small round or 4 or 5 plum) ripe tomatoes 
Fresh serrano chiles to taste (roughly 3 to 5, 1/2 to 1 ounce total, or even more if you like it really picante), stemmed 
A dozen or so large sprigs of cilantro 
1 large garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped (optional)
 1 small (4-ounce) white onion
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice 
Salt, about 3/4 teaspoon


Core the tomatoes, then cut in half widthwise and squeeze out the seeds if you wish (it will give the sauce a less rustic appearance). Finely dice the flesh by slicing it into roughly 1/4-inch thick pieces, then cutting each slice into small dice. Scoop into a bowl. 

Cut the chiles in half lengthwise (wear rubber gloves if your hands are sensitive to the piquancy of the chiles) and scrape out the seeds if you wish (not only will this make the salsa seem less rustic, but it will make it a little less picante). Chop the chiles as finely as you can, then add them to the tomatoes. Carefully bunch up the cilantro sprigs, and, with a sharp knife, slice them 1/16-inch thick, stems and all, working your way down from the leafy end until you run out of leaves. Scoop the chopped cilantro into the tomato mixture along with the optional garlic. Next, finely dice the onion with a knife (a food processor will turn it into a sour mess), scoop it into a small strainer, then rinse it under cold water. Shake to remove the excess water and add to the tomato mixture. Taste and season with lime juice and salt, and let stand if you have a little time, for the flavors to meld before using or scooping into a salsa dish and serving.


Theme: Potluck!

13 comments:

  1. Isn't it funny how such simple ingredients can come together to create so much wow. That may be what interests me so much about cooking. I think I would put this pico on anything and everything too. You have me craving Mexican food right now!

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  2. That restaurant looks fantastic! A salsa bar! Holy cow!

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  3. I'm a huge fan of Rick Bayless so I'm not surprised that a recipe that appears to be so simple tastes so good. I'm also in the mood for Mexican food now!

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  4. Hi Kim,
    Wow, what a lovely holiday! The salsa bar sounds delicious! This simple salsa looks so good! It reminds me of a very similar one, which I made from Madhur Jaffrey's recipes, and I love it so much, and have made it many times! The only difference is RB uses garlic and that is definitely a plus for me, being a garlic lover!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  5. IT really is amazing how GOOD salsa can totally make a meal! LOVE that your vacation inspired this!

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  6. You can't beat a good pico and getting it right from its source is downright inspiring.

    Velva

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  7. Love that you found such inspiration in your holiday, Kim - that too me is what holidays are all about. This salsa has me seriously longing for summer now, but as we are still about three months off even planting tomatoes I may have a bit of a wait. Mind you ... California next week, making something like this could be high on my agenda!

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  8. would love to go to Mexico!!!I loveee salsa and that looks perfect,Kim!

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  9. I love Mexican food, Kim!That pico de gallo looks delicious!

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  10. If I didn't tell you back in April, Happy Anniversary!! What a lovely trip and you can tell you had so much fun. Lots of delicious food, I am jealous!!
    Thanks for sharing all these mouth watering photos, Kim.

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  11. What a wonderful gift to each other for your 10th anniversary, Kim! This salsa looks wonderful and now I'm craving Mexican food! xoxo

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  12. Pico de gallo is perhaps my favorite salsa. It's a close race because grilled salsa verde is crazy good too. Fun shots from your trip, sounds like you guys had a blast.

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  13. Love that you had such a great anniversary trip! There is nothing like a well-made pico de gallo to liven up any plate, of course with plenty of margaritas to wash it down with! ;-)

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