Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Salsa de Chile Passila - revisited

After the first unsatisfactory attempt at the Salsa de Chile Passila I've been anxious to try again. The recipe from Diana kennedy I tried the first time was somewhat involved; the passila were first fried in oil untill crisp, then the tomatilloes were fried in the oil, finally the onion was fried in this same oil and all the ingredients were blended with a clove of garlic. after that the resulting salsa was returned to the pan to thicken and cook out.

Many of the other recipes I have seen are much simpler with the passila simply being lightly toasted on a dry skillet before being blended with the tomatillo, onion and garlic.

I had some tomatilloes in the fridge from the weekend - the oven in the apartment is enormous and I like to be sure I am making full use of it on the rare occasions I turn it on - so it seemed an ideal opportuninty to have another go at the passila salsa.

I liked the idea of cooking out the sauce after blending it, particulary on a sauce like this with deep complicated flavours, however I wanted to skip the step of frying the passila in oil, which I think is fraught with danger and inclined to make the chiles bitter if not done very carfully. Neither did I want to spent time frying onions to be added to the sauce and then taking more time to cook the sauce out. So I compromised between the Diana Kennedy approach and the more basic versions.

I toasted three chiles passila in a dry frying pan. They puff up up slightly. (You need to turn them regulary and watch the heat under the pan in case they burn - if they do ditch them and start again). When the chiles were warmed through and fragrant I took them from the pan, removed the stem and seeds and cut the flesh into small pieces.

I blended the flesh of the chiles with three of the already cooked tomatilloes, a clove of garlic, a quarter of a bigish onion and less than a half a cup of water.

The resulting salasa was returned to the pan and cooked for 5 to 10 minutes until it had thickened slightly and the raw taste of the onion and garlic had cooked out. I fixed the seasoning and placed the salsa in a ziplock bag and stored in the fridge.

This time I was much hapier with the result and it was very close to what I had hoped it to be. It has a rich deep complicated taste, very different from the bright clean tastes you normally associate with Mexican cooking. It goes excellently with grilled meat.

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