All posts by Sonia

My parents Ramiro and Blanca Mendez moved to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico in 1963. I am first generation Mexican American born in Los Angeles, California. Cooking has always been one of my passions in life. This is my journey and I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Dried Chiles Part Two ~Salsa, Hot Sauce, Sauce

Just when you think you have prepared every salsa or hot sauce recipe possible, someone will tag you in a picture with a salsa that you just have to try. One day last week, my friend Donna shared a picture of a salsa she was enjoying at her local Mexican eatery.  She asked if I had ever seen or prepared something similar. As far as I could see, it looked like a tomato based salsa, but was not thick, but more like a hot sauce with specs of toasted chiles. I had a rough idea and off I went into my kitchen. As I have talked about before, tomatoes and dried chile peppers are staples in my kitchen. You never know when you might be challenged to a salsa throwdown! Ha, ha, ha!! Bring it Bobby! Just kidding….but, not really.  This was my best guess at the taqueria salsa. 

Toasted Chile de Arbol Tomato Salsa/Hot Sauce.

My New Favorite Salsa!!! Until the next one comes along…

Toasted Chile de Arbol and Tomato Salsa

Inspired by my friend Donna!

Ingredients

1 large vine ripe tomato, chopped
10 chile de arbol, toasted
1 cup water
salt to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Juice of 1/2 a  lime juice or  1 tablespoon white vinegar, optional
1 teaspoon crushed chile piquin or  toasted chile de arbol

Toasted Chile de Arbol

Tips~Simply place the dried chile de arbol in a dry skillet at medium heat. Toast for a few minutes, turning as needed. Do not let them get too dark or they can become bitter tasting.

Toasted Chile de Arbol Tomato Salsa

Tips~I typically only purchase Roma tomatoes for my everyday cooking, but the store was out! Lol! So, I picked up some vine ripe tomatoes. Delicious!

Toasted Chile de Arbol Tomato Salsa

This is the salsa/hot sauce soon after I blended it and strained it into the bowl.

Directions

1. To the blender, add the chopped tomato, 1 cup water, toasted chile de arbol (stems removed) and salt to taste. Blend on high until smooth. You want the chiles to really break down as small as possible.

2. Strain salsa using a fine wire mesh strainer into a sauce pan. Transfer salsa/hot sauce to a sauce pan. Bring up to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Mix this into the simmering salsa. Reduce heat and cook for a few more minutes. If using any lime or vinegar, add it while salsa is cooking. Taste for salt. Add crushed chile piquin or more toasted chile de arbol.

Toasted Chile de Arbol Tomato Salsa

Here is the salsa/hot sauce as it cooks. The color deepens. The cornstarch slurry thickens it sligtly and also keeps it from separating. I really enjoyed the tangy tomato flavor. It reminded me of these spicy ketchup potato chips I used to purchase in Mexico, tasty!

Toasted Chile de Arbol Tomato Salsa/Hot Sauce

Achiote Pork Tenderloin~ Rojo y Verde

The goal in mind is to utilize as many of the reserved pantry and refrigerator foods on a weekly basis. Quite a while back, my friend Kim was nice enough to bring me back some hard to find Mexican food items. Besides the whole two pounds of these soft and aromatic chile ancho pods, he also brought back a couple  bricks of achiote paste, in both red and green. The red one, popular in the Yucatan,  I am very familiar with and had used it in many recipes, such as cochinita pibil, al pastor and various chicken recipes. It does not have a strong flavor, but is mostly used for it’s distinct bright red color. But the green one, I had never come across.  I finally remembered to bring it out and give it a try. I was looking for something different for these pork tenderloin and I am happy I remembered the achiote. We are still at the beginning of the summer and I have lost count how many times we have fired up that charcoal grill. Lol! Still learning and loving it.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin~ Achiote Verde

Achiote Pork Tenderloin-Red and GreenThe Green Achiote~Ingredients that make up Achiote Verde:  Allspice, black pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, water, salt, vinegar, cornmeal and sodium benzotate (as preservative).

Achiote Pok Tenderloin-Red and GreenThe Red Achiote~Ingredients that make up Achiote Rojo:Ground annatto seeds, spices and tomatoes

For the Brine
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon chile flakes
3 cups water
1 teaspoon peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons of salt or to taste

*You Need, pork tenderloin.The package I purchase comes with two small tenderloin. Each weighing a little more than a pound each.

Pork Tenderloin in a BrineThese were the tenderloins after I took them out of the brine.

Pork Tenderloin-Red and Green AchioteBoth the red and green achiote paste are available through MexGrocer online.

For Red Achiote Marinade
2 tablespoons red achiote paste
1/4 white onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 red fresno peppers, roughly chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
2 tablespoons adobo from chipotles
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or any mild flavored oil

Achiote Rojo-Red Achiote/Annatto

For Green Achiote Marinade
2 tablespoons gree achiote paste
2 green onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 serrano peppers, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cilantro
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or nay mild flavored oil

Achiote Verde-Green Achiote

Directions

1. In a saucepan, add 1 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium. Add garlic, onion, chile flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Add water, peppercorns, bayleaves and salt. Heat to medium and cook just to dissolve the salt and infuse the water with flavor of aromatics. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Place tenderloin in a container. Mix the seasoned water with the remaining 3 cups water. Stir to combine and pour over the pork making sure they are covered with water. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible leave them for 2 days.

3. Remove pork from the brine and pat dry 30 minutes before you cook it. Prepare your outdoor grill for indirect cooking at moderate heat. Season the tenderloins with fresh cracked pepper. Divide the achiote marinades in half.Then divide them in half again, so you have 4 small bowls. Take one bowl of the red and one of the green and generously brush each tenderloin. Reserve the remaining achiote marinade.

4. Bush grates with oil and place pork on indirect side, the cool side of gril. Close the lid and let cook for 20 to 25 minutes. I like to baste the pork a few more times while it finishes cooking. Take the remaining marinade (red and green) and brush each tenderloin, making sure you keep the lid closed in between. After about 35 minutes, I start checking the temperature of pork in the thickest part. Once the pork reaches about 140 to 143 degrees, I move them over to the direct (hot) side of grill and baste and turn one more time just for a few minutes. Pull from heat onto plate. Tent with foil paper and let rest for 10 minutes. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

For Oven Method: Brine the pork as directed. Season with pepper and using a heavy dutch oven pot, sear the pork on all sides until brown. Baste each one with the achiote marinades. Cover and roast in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Check the temperature after 30 minutes. All ovens vary. When the internal temperature has reach 145 degrees, baste and place under broiler for a few minutes.

Achiote Rojo y Verde

Both these marinades can be frozen for future recipes. They preserve well with the added vinegar.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin-Rojo y Verde

Learning to cook with indirect heat on my charcoal grill works out great for the summer months when it’s too warm to turn on the oven.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin-Red and Green

For a moist tenderloin, I like to pull them off the grill when they have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. 

Achiote Pork Tenderloin

After tenderloin has chilled overnight, I like to slice it as thin as possible. I then store it in 1/2 pound portions using freezer bags. I will use the pork for tacos, enchiladas, burritos, sandwiches and Asian style noodle soup.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin

On the first night, I served the sliced tenderloin with rice and a chimichurri inspired garnish.

Pork Tenderloin in Salsa Verde

One of the nights, I seared some of the pork tenderloin slices and then braised them in salsa verde.

Chile de Arbol Ahi Tuna Tacos

Are you in the habit of freezing foods that you made too much of? I never used to be that person. I always had good intentions to freeze leftovers, then I would end up throwing them out when they were too old and growing  a foreign sumptin, sumptin on top, lol! Well, I have been reformed for a few years now and I have to say it works out great for us. I found what works for me and I cannot remember the last time I had to throw leftover food out. Of course, unless it’s some food item that cannot be frozen, then we have to eat it until gone, ha, ha, ha! The star freezer recipe of this delicious tuna taco is the oil and vinegar based chile de arbol salsa I prepared quite a while back.  In Spanish it is called  Salsa de Aceite Estilo Carretas. I had just about 3/4 of a cup left and I packed it in 1/4 cup storage containers. It freezes well and it is perfect for a kicked up marinade or added spice for many foods. I do incorporate dried chile peppers in many of my recipes, but there are times when I have so many, that I will prepare this salsa to preserve them even longer. If you have never tried ahi tuna steaks for fear of them being fishy tasting or hard to cook, I would urge you to pick some up soon! Just 3 minutes per side and you have the most perfect medium/rare, tender, melt in mouth fish you will ever have.  Fish tacos never tasted so good!

Chile de Arbol Ahi Tuna Tacos

Chile de Arbol Ahi Tuna Tacos

Ingredients
2 ahi tuna steaks(about 1 one pound total)
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/3 cup chile de arbol oil and vinegar based salsa(see link below)
Grapeseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lime
*1/4 to 1/3 cup white wine, beer or chicken broth

For Garnish
Pico de gallo
Avocado slices

Chile de Arbol Ahi Tuna Tacos

Tips~ This oil and vinegar based salsa can be used as a basting sauce for grilled chicken, pork or steak.  Heat level on salsa is between 6 and 8.

Chile de Arbol Tuna Steak Tacos

Directions

1. Season the tuna lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Generously brush  with the chile de arbol salsa on both sides. Cover and marinate for 1 hour.

2. Remove tuna from refrigerator 20 to 25 minutes before you cook it. Preheat 2 tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil  in a skillet to medium heat for a few minutes. When pan is very hot, sear tuna for 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan onto plate. and tent with foil paper.

3. To that same skillet, add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup white wine, beer or chicken broth. Taste for  salt and pepper and cook at a low simmer for 5 minutes. Slice thin or into small chunks.  Pour sauce from pan over tuna. Serve with warm tortillas, pico de gallo and avocado slices. Yields 2 dinner servings or 4 starter servings.

Salsa de Aceite Estilo Las Carretas- Oil and Vinegar Based Chile de Arbol Salsa. Click onto picture to see full recipe.

Oil and Vinegar Based Chile de Arbol Salsa

Tips~ When preparing this salsa, I would suggest tearing or cutting them into smaller pieces before you cook them in the oil.

 

Chile de Arbol Ahi Tuna Steak Tacos

Tips~ Take the extra sauce and cover warm corn tortillas with it before adding tuna. 

Chile de Arbol Tuna Steak Tacos

Tips~ Click  and type Corn Tortillas into the search bar for homemade tortilla recipe.