For awhile now, I've liked green salsa more than red. Green was always brighter, more acidic. A drizzle on my taco set off sparks on my tongue. And when the salsa had avocado, as green taquería salsas often do here, I wanted to curl up and take a nap in its creaminess. Red salsa never hit me that way. It wasn't luxurious or intense. Red salsa just sat there. Blinking. (Little did I know red salsa doesn't work like that. It plants a seed, and then hurries away to see what you do with it.) In the past few months, whenever I'd visit taquerías, I'd find myself looking at the red more than the green. I already knew what the green contained: chile serrano or chile verde, maybe chile de árbol or an avocado. But the red remained an enigma. Did the taquero use tomatoes? They're not essential. Which chiles did he use? Guajillo, cascabel, mora? There were no acidic tomatillos to mask everything. With red salsa, you tasted the chiles themselves. The result was subtler, more mysterious. I've been wanting to experiment with red salsas at home, so I tiptoed into the game with a batch of guajillo-árbol salsa from Ricardo Muñoz's excellent book Salsas Mexicanas. I've used it several times before, always with good results. This salsa contained a few tomatoes, pureed with toasted chiles until they became a thick, deep-red soup. (In another time five thousand years ago, maybe I could've dyed my hair with this stuff.) One bite murmured of garlic and the piney herbs of the guajillo. Then came the searing heat -- like, straddling the line of edible -- from the 8 chiles de árbol I used. Heat is the main difference between a table salsa and one you'd cook meat and vegetables in, by the way. The former, if you like spicy food, should be tongue-swellingly hot. Seven days later, I still have a glass jar of this salsa in my fridge. I've slowly been working my way through it, spooning it into quesadillas, on chips, over eggs. It's fabulous on anything. Recipe below. Oh, and tell me -- where do you come down on the fence? Red or green, and why? ...
We like to buy trout from the organic tianguis that comes to the Roma every two weeks. A vendor sells it whole and in filets. The trout isn't available all the time, so when we buy it, it's a treat. In the past, I've poached the fish and served it with a salsa verde (one day I'm going to post all these recipes for you, I swear). But lately I've been bored with poaching. I said to Crayton, who is slowly coming around to eating seafood, what would you like to do with this fish? Usually when I ask him what he wants to eat, he says meatloaf. This time he said, Why not fish tacos? The idea zapped me, because I've never actually made fish tacos before. Salad tacos, peanut butter tacos, roasted carrot and banh mi tacos, yes. Fish tacos no. The dream fish taco... and the reality My favorite kind of fish taco is deep-fried: nuggets of bland white fish, sheathed in beer batter, puffed up in hot oil and served with shredded cabbage and a spicy cream sauce. The cream sauce is kinda half tartar sauce, half salsa. For our meal at home, I wanted to make something healthier while keeping the idea of that sauce intact. The fish, because I would not be marinating it, needed a little zing. So I pan-fried my trout filets. I made a sauce using the Oaxacan chile pasilla (I am obsessed), garlic, yogurt and mayonnaise. The result, thrown together in 30 minutes, was exactly what I wanted it to be: a simple taco that felt hefty because of the cabbage, and that wowed you with its smoky-creaminess. My friend Liz came over for dinner and moaned when she bit into these. "What is the name of this chile?" she demanded. If you don't have Oaxacan pasillas, you could substitute morita or chipotle. Trout tacos with spicy Oaxaca pasilla cream sauce Serves 4 with a few side dishes For the sauce (makes about 1/4 cup): 1 Oaxaca chile pasilla, or any other intensely smoky, spicy chile 1 clove garlic 2 tablespoons plain yogurt 1 tablespoon mayonnaise For the fish: 12 ounces trout filets Vegetable or olive oil (or oil of your choice) Six to 8 corn tortillas Salt Pepper Garnish: Lime wedges Shredded cabbage Directions It's a good idea to make the sauce first, so the flavors mix while you're preparing the rest of the dish. Using kitchen shears or a knife, make an incision in the chile and scrape out the seeds and veins. Don't use your fingers -- it's better to use a small spoon or a butter knife. Cover chile in hot water and let hydrate until the skin has softened, about five to 10 minutes. While the chile rests, you can slice your cabbage and let it sit in cold water, so it stays fresh. Once the chile is sufficiently softened, add it to a blender with the garlic and just a little (1 or 2 tablespoons) water. Blend until as smooth as possible. Don't worry if you see pieces of chile -- that's okay. Scrape or pour mixture into a small bowl, and whisk in mayonnaise and yogurt. Taste for salt and add if necessary. Store sauce in fridge until ready to use. Wash and pat dry the fish filets. Season with salt and pepper. To cook, drizzle about a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet and heat to medium. Add the fish when the pan is hot. Cook until golden brown on both sides. To serve tacos, take a fork and shred a little bit of fish into a warm corn tortilla. Top with a spritz of lime juice, a spoonful of salsa and the cabbage.
Whenever I have visitors in town or I want to wow dinner guests, I break into my stash of Oaxacan pasilla chiles. I've been obsessed with this chile for the past year -- unlike the regular chile pasilla, or even the chipotle or mora for that matter, they're intensely smoky, raisiny, fruity. My friend Ian was visiting last weekend, so I asked him whether he wanted to make oaxacan pasillas rellenos (someday I'm going to post that recipe for you, it's divine) or salsa. He chose the latter. I've posted a recipe previously for oaxacan pasilla salsa with tomatillos, so we thumbed through Ricardo Muñoz Zurita's excellent book Salsas Mexicanas for another. The one we found was simple: a mix of rehydrated chiles, garlic and salt. My mouth watered just thinking about it -- can you imagine the flavor without the acidity from the tomatoes? It would be a smoke-tobacco-fruit fest. With Ian on the tejolote, we threw comal-roasted garlic, sea salt and the rehydrated pasillas into the molcajete. He ground everything together for perhaps 20 minutes, adding a few dribbles of water when it looked too thick. The result was a gorgeous, deep red paste. We dipped our noses closer to the molcajete, inhaled, and sighed. It was as smoky and intense as we'd imagined. We ate the salsa with totopos I'd made from old tortillas baked in the oven. The next day, I spooned some onto my quesadillas. If you can't find the Oaxacan chile pasilla, you could try substituting chile chipotle or morita. The basic idea of letting the chile shine with a little bit of garlic is a good one, I think. Simple Oaxacan chile pasilla salsa Makes about 1 very spicy cup Note: The original recipe didn't call for roasting the garlic on the comal, but we did it anyway, because Ian and I both prefer the taste. The original recipe also called for keeping the seeds and grinding them in the salsa, but we only added a pinch. It's still very hot. If you're substituting dried chipotles, I'd stick with three large ones. Canned chipotles tend to be a little hotter, but you might try using three and see what happens. (Or start with two large ones and go from there.) If you're using dried moras, which tend to be smaller, I'd do perhaps five or six. You could also make this salsa in a blender, if you don't have a molcajete. If you do have one, I'd use it, as you get more control over the texture/consistency. My ideal consistency here was a thick sauce -- thinner than tomato paste, but not as runny as a taquería salsa. In any case, the consistency doesn't matter so much, because it's going to taste good no matter what. Ingredients 4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled 3 oaxacan chile pasillas* (see note) sea salt to taste Heat a comal or dry skillet on the stovetop. Add garlic cloves to the outer edge of the pan, where the heat isn't so intense, and cook until golden brown and soft on both sides, turning occasionally. If you leave them too long on the comal and they blacken in spots, just shave off the those pieces with a knife. You don't want them because they're bitter. Meanwhile, use a dish towel to rub off any dust that might have collected on the chiles. Add them to the comal and quickly toast, until the skin has softened slightly and the chiles become aromatic. This should take maybe 10 or 15 seconds at the most. Remove the chiles to a work space. Using kitchen shears, cut off the chile stems, slice open the chiles, and remove the seeds and veins. Save a few seeds on the side, if you'd like to add them to your salsa later. (Do NOT use your fingers to de-seed/de-vein -- the seeds are super hot. I'd use a knife or little spoon.) Cover the chiles with hot water and let rest until the skin has softened, perhaps 10 minutes. Peel the garlic. In a molcajete, add the garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Grind together until it forms a paste. Then add the chiles, one at a time unless you're a whiz on the molcajete. Grind each chile until you no longer see big pieces of chile skin, and you've got a uniform paste. Add more water as you go, if it looks too thick. Taste for salt. Serve at room temperature with your favorite chips, tacos or quesadillas.
I'm hanging out with my in-laws in Phoenix, and one of the things they like to do for dinner is grill steaks. I love my in-laws and appreciate how much time they put into planning our meals here. But the steak-eating gene skipped me. No me enloquece, you know? (It doesn't drive me crazy.) What does drive me crazy is salad. It drives my sister-in-law crazy, too. She's a vegetarian. She and I are both here in Phoenix this week, which has been a blessing. When the parents decided to do steaks, we whipped up this salad: grilled romaine and radicchio with cherry tomatoes, parmesan slices and avocado, with a tart citrus vinaigrette. She's a bread fiend, so we added homemade croutons, too. When it came time to eat, I served myself a piece of steak and promptly forgot about it. Instead I kept piling more salad onto my plate. Two servings… three… I think I might've gone for four. Grilling the lettuce gave it this faint smoky flavor, which matched perfectly with the avocado and the sweet-tart dressing. And the croutons -- crispy on the outside and softer in the middle. Dude. They were gems. The next morning I ate the salad for breakfast, even though it had already been dressed and was a teensy bit soggy. It was so good that I took out my new computer and decided I had to tell you about it now, instead of waiting until I got back from vacation. Grilled romaine and radicchio salad, with parmesan and tomato Serves about 8 as a side dish Note: You may have a few extra croutons left over. I've used them to make a breakfast scramble/strata type-thing, by soaking them first in egg for five minutes, and then cooking them in a little butter, sautéed onion and greens. Also, we only used half of the radicchio mentioned in the recipe. The rest can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and eaten as leftovers, with any leftover dressing. Ingredients 1 boule or a chunk of fresh bread of your choice, sliced into cubes (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups' worth) 1 head romaine, cut in half 1 small- to medium-sized head radicchio, cut in half 1 avocado, cut into thin slices 1/2 package cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup) Thinly sliced parmesan to taste Dressing Taken from this Food Network recipe, with a few tweaks 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tablespoon lemon zest 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar 2/3 cup olive oil Dollop of honey Directions Place the bread cubes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Mix together with your hands until the cubes are evenly coated. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 375F, until the tips look golden brown. (They won't turn an even golden brown because we're not using enough oil -- which is fine, they'll still taste great, I promise.) While the bread cubes cook, warm the grill or grill pan. Lightly brush the romaine and radicchio with olive oil. Place the lettuce cut-side down on the grill and cook for about five minutes, until the lettuce is partially charred on one side and slightly wilted, but not completely falling apart. Remove and slice with a sharp knife. In a serving bowl, combine lettuce, croutons, avocado tomato and parmesan. Mix together salad dressing in an airtight jar, saving the olive oil for the end and shaking vigorously. Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve.
I took a trip to Xalapa, Veracruz recently, and I ate way too much. Gorgeous, grasa-laden picaditas topped with cheese and plantain? Yes please. Mole? Mmm-hmmm. How about a side of it to accompany my cream-drenched enchiladas? When I got home and stepped on the scale (Lesley, don’t ever step on the scale again), I wanted to cry. Then I vowed to eat more vegetables. The lettuce at my local market looked a little sad, so I went with green beans, which are available year-round in Mexico because they’re native vegetables. The word “ejote” was “ejotl” in Nahuatl. I had a vision of cold, crisp green beans, mixed with some tomato and a little chayote. I think the universe really wanted me to eat more vegetables again, because this was the best salad I’d eaten in a long time. The chayote added just the right touch of the sweetness; the crisp green beans gave texture. Crumbled cotija cheese, salty and slightly sour, tied everything together. I made a simple vinaigrette to accompany this dish, but I didn't even need it. The cheese was practically the dressing. Crayton and I didn't finish this in one sitting. I ate the leftovers out of the bowl for the next few days. Does anyone else besides me love doing that? Green bean, chayote and cotija cheese salad Serves 4 generously Note: I used guaje tomatoes here, a Mexican variety that's slightly larger than a Roma. Feel free to use the ripest, freshest tomatoes you can find. Queso cotija should be available at most Mexican supermarkets. If you can't find it, you can substitute another salty, mild cheese. Just make sure it doesn't taste too aged, because that might overwhelm the other flavors in the dish. Ingredients 2 chayotes, diced into 1/2" pieces 8 oz/250g green beans, chopped into about 2” pieces (this equals about 2 heaping cups) 2 ripe tomatoes* (see note), chopped Good handful cilantro, stems included, chopped Cotija cheese to taste -- I used about 1/4 cup crumbled Vinaigrette (optional): 3 T. apple cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard dollop of agave honey, or sweetener of your choice 4 T. olive oil Directions Heat a saucepan of water to boil on the stove. Nearby, fill a large boil with water and ice cubes. (We're going to blanch the green beans.) When the water in the saucepan is boiling, add your green beans and a hefty dose of salt. While the green beans cook, place the diced chayote into a microwave-proof bowl and mix generously with salt. Cover with plastic wrap that's been perforated a few times with a fork, or with a sheet of wax paper. Cook until crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes on high. Once green beans have boiled for perhaps three to five minutes -- they should be just slightly more tender than they were when you placed them in the pot; above all they should still be green -- remove them with a slotted spoon, and place them in the bowl of ice water. Let sit for at least five minutes to stop them from cooking further. This will make them nice and crisp later. Place chayote, hopefully cooled by now, and chilled, drained green beans into a serving bowl. Add the diced tomatoes, cilantro and cheese. Mix until well combined. (Taste here and see if you need more salt.) If making the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients and add the oil last. Whisk quickly until the oil and vinegar look fully integrated. Serve as a light lunch on its own, or to accompany something else. I used this as a side dish for pasta.
The oblong, nubby cactus pear is probably the most abundant fruit in the city right now. Markets have got them at four pounds for less than a dollar. They're skinned and sheathed in plastic for people who want to eat them right there, with chili powder and lime. I prefer them plain. The flesh is juicy and so perfumed, you really don't need anything else. A few weeks ago, I picked up a big batch with plans to make a nieve, or sorbet. I am not a stranger to this activity -- two years ago I made sorbet with tuna roja. But this time I didn't have an ice cream maker. I'd lost the little plastic part that fit onto my Kitchen Aid mixer, which enabled the churning. After some fruitless Internet searching, and lots of fretting to Crayton, I emailed Fany. She offered a bunch of helpful tips, including adding an egg white to make the sorbet creamier, and using salt and simple syrup instead of regular sugar. Most importantly, she said there was no reason I couldn't use my ice-cream maker freezer bowl anyway, and just pop it in the freezer and stir by hand every few hours. So, one afternoon, I chopped my tunas and blended and tasted, surprised and delighted at how kick-ass this mixture turned out to be. I was so excited, actually, that I broke out a little mezcal -- for the sorbet, not for me. It ended up giving the nieve a touch of smoke, which fit with the trailblazing theme of the day. This sorbet -- or perhaps it's a sherbet because of the egg white -- did not turn out as dense as I'd hoped. It wasn't as scoopable as my nieve de tuna roja. But it was all mine, and it was still really, really good. I took it to a 4th of July party and Carlos, who is a big fan of tuna fruit, pronounced it a winner. Nieve de tuna with mezcal Makes about 1 1/2 quarts Note: When I was researching the proper texture for a sorbet, I couldn't really find a good answer. I wasn't sure whether to add water. In the end, Fany said that the more water you add, the more crystallized and icy the texture becomes. I wanted something smooth, so I left the water out. Also, I never realized how important salt could be in a dessert. It really pulled everything together, so don't leave it out. Ingredients 21 pieces of cactus fruit (almost 2 kilos or 4 lbs. worth), spines removed Simple syrup, to taste Juice of one large lime 3 teaspoons mezcal salt 1 egg white Directions Peel tuna fruit by cutting off the ends and making an incision length-wise. Open one side like a book and peel off; the thick skin should pull away easily. Cut into quarters and blend until smooth. (I did this in two batches.) Strain out seeds. At this point you should have a pretty pistachio liquid. Add a little simple syrup and lime juice and blend. Add mezcal and adjust the sweetness or acidity if necessary. Then add the salt -- I went with two or three grinds of the salt-shaker -- and taste. Add more simple syrup if needed. Lastly, add the raw egg white and blend until mixture is smooth and thickened. Pour into ice cream maker and blend according to manufacturer's instructions. OR, if you've only got a frozen ice cream bowl and nothing else, pour into the already frozen bowl, freeze and stir every few hours.
Juanita is a Mexican woman in her 90's who lives in the Colonia Cuauhtémoc. She still cooks every day, and her food is superb. Last year I was lucky enough to make chiles rellenos with her in her kitchen. With my friend Lizzie, who was living with Juanita, we charred and seeded the chiles, made the fluffy egg batter and nestled strips of cheese inside the chiles' green flesh. Juanita had advised us to do it delicately, "as if it were a child you were swaddling." A few weeks ago, Lizzie was leaving town, so she invited me over again for lunch. Juanita made chicken-salad sandwiches and we had tomatoey noodle soup and beer. Dessert was rice pudding -- something Juanita often makes under the name "dulce de arroz." The dish tasted like something she would've slaved over. How could something so simple taste so complex? However, when Lizzie finally passed me the recipe (which she got by watching Juanita one day), it was easy. The recipe called for one can of condensed milk, a liter of milk, cinnamon and lime zest. That's it. I did not have a great history with rice pudding. The one time I tried to make it last year, I screwed it up. But Juanita's recipe seemed easy enough. Anything with condensed milk can't ever taste bad. So I made the dish for Alice's baby shower. To my surprise, it turned out just like I'd had it at Juanita's house: creamy, sweet, with just the right amount of cinnamon. I licked the spoon and really wanted to lick my dessert glass, too, but decided against it. Juanita's Rice Pudding Serves at least 8 as a dessert Note: The cooking time really varies on this dish, depending on how thick or thin you like your rice pudding. I made two batches and one came out a little thinner, but both still tasted great. If you've never made rice pudding before, I'd suggest cooking the mixture until it has noticeably thickened, about 15 minutes or so on a high simmer. (High simmer means the mixture should be bubbling, shouldn't it be so hot that it's boiling over.) The rice pudding thickens considerably once it's cooled. I fretted over the batch that turned out a little thin, but an overnight sit in the fridge helped firm it up. You can add a sprinkle of cinnamon while it cools, or wait to add the cinnamon at serving time. Ingredients 1 cup white rice 3 cinnamon sticks, 3"-4" long Zest of 1 lime (around 1/2 teaspoon) 1 liter whole milk 1 can condensed milk Ground cinnamon Cook 1 cup white rice (washed) and 2 cups water with 3 cinnamon sticks and the lime zest. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the rice is cooked. Add 1 liter whole milk and boil for a few minutes. Add the condensed milk. Cook on a high simmer for 10 minutes or so* (see headnote; cooking times can vary), stirring often so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. When done, the rice should be soft, and the mixture will have thickened. Top with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and cool.
I think Tlaloc must have been paying attention to my dude-check-out-the-mountains post, because for the past five days, it’s rained every day. Nothing too scary. Just a nice, steady drizzle starting around 4 or 5. So my sandals have gone back into the closet. I've replaced my light cardigans for a cheery, cobalt-blue cropped raincoat. I know Americans tend to think of rain as dreary, but it doesn't feel that way here at all. At the markets we've still got mangoes, small stone fruits, luscious mameys (oh god -- you should see their sunset-red flesh) and, the best of all, an abundance of quelites, which I've talked about on this blog before. "Quelite," pronounced keh-LEE-tay, is a catch-all term for pretty much any tender Mexican green. Epazote is considered a quelite, as is purslane (verdolagas), watercress (berros), chaya, romeritos, pápalo, pipicha. I ended up buying a big bunch of tender, almost peppery-tasting quelites from one of my favorite vendors for 10 pesos. They sat in my fridge for almost a week, washed and disinfected and stored in my salad spinner. Last night I didn’t feel like cooking or eating out -- there is such a thing as running to my corner empanada joint too many times -- so I took out the quelites and made a quick guisado, tossing the leaves into a mix of tomato, onion and garlic. On my tours, I talk a lot about how guisados are one of the workhorses of Central Mexican cuisine. A guisado doesn't have to be anything fancy. It can have chile, or not. It can have garlic, or not. Generally it has a base of chiles, garlic and onions, and an acidic element like tomato or tomate verde. But the tomatoes don't necessarily have to be cooked and blended. I chopped mine. The result was comforting and simple, and I felt good for being healthy for once. You should know that last week I ate antojitos like a fiend. Gonna post a recipe for gorditas soon. Simple Guisado de Quelite (greens stewed with tomatoes, onion and garlic) Serves 4 with rice or grain of your choice With a guisado, there aren't really any rules, but Mexican cooks tend to not go overboard on the onion. You just want the perfume of onion flavor -- you don't want onion por todas partes. And of course it helps to use the freshest vegetables you can find. 2 pounds quelites, or any other green of your choice, washed and thick stems removed 1/2 to 3/4 small onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 1/2 to 1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced (optional) 3 to 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped Chicken or vegetable broth, or water Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. (In Spanish, this is called "acitronar.") Then add the garlic and chiles and cook until aromatic, usually just a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, lowering the flame a little so they don't dry out too quickly. When tomatoes have softened, add the greens and about 1/2 cup of liquid. Bring to a boil and add salt to taste. The amount of liquid is really to taste here, too -- you can make it as soupy or as thick as you like. Simmer the mixture gently, covered, until the greens are tender and the flavors have mixed together. Serve with warm tortillas, rice, quinoa, or grain of your choice.
Part of me really did think that since I made pineapple atole before in cooking class, I'd be a whiz on it the second time around. That wasn't the case. In my own kitchen, without my classmates looking over my shoulder, I didn't dissolve my masa very well. I ended up with little hard bits that I had to strain out. I also wasn't sure how much masa to add, since I'd downsized the original recipe. (My pot held 2 liters of water, instead of the 3 we used in class.) I put in 170 grams of masa and hoped for the best. But do you know what I learned? Atole is very forgiving. It really doesn't matter how much masa you put in it, or how much fruit. As long as you dissolve and blend things correctly, it's all to your own taste. My own result, at the end of 40 minutes of careful cooking and tasting, was a thick, sweet drink that was just as good as the one I’d made in cooking class. And it tasted much more pineappley, since I'd added in an entire 4-lb. fruit. Unfortunately all I had to serve it with were freezer-burned tamales. Oh well. Recipe below. ...
Mango season in Mexico is one of my favorite times of the year. It comes in the early spring, after tangerine season, when there’s nothing enticing on the market shelves except for hit-and-miss mameys and round, nubby guavas that looked better in the winter. It’s like everyone’s waiting, and then boom, there they are -- mango wedges sold in plastic cups on the street corners, mangos piled up at the tianguis, an army advancing on the rest of the produce. There’s nothing like that first slice from a vendor’s knife. It’s wet and sweet in a way that almost seems unreal. A few months ago, I had dinner at Azul Condesa, Ricard Muñoz Zurita's new restaurant. A special menu had ben devoted to mangoes, with all sorts of plates containing the fruit. My favorite was the mango pico de gallo, served in a large glass. It was sweet and spicy and tart, and Crayton and I annihilated it in minutes. Lucky for me, I ended up finding a mango pico de gallo recipe inside Zurita's cookbook, Salsas Mexicanas. (If you read Spanish, this is a great book to have.) The recipe, interestingly, calls for fish sauce, which creates a delightful Thai-type of flavor. Zurita says in the book that he got the recipe from a Filipina chef studying in Mexico. If you don't have any fish sauce, the pico is still quite good on its own. I imagine it'd be great with a spritz of lime. Just make sure you have fresh mangoes. Or you could probably even try it with other sweet fruits, like pineapple. Mango Pico de Gallo from Salsas Mexicanas by Ricardo Muñoz Zurita Serves 4 as an appetizer Note: The original recipe calls for manila mangoes, which are prized in Mexico for their sweetness. Other types of mangoes would probably work as well, as long as they're mature. On the fish sauce, I'd add a little bit at a time and taste as you go along. The two tablespoons adds a recognizable fishy flavor, but it mellowed out a bit as the pico sat at room temperature. Ingredients 1 very ripe beefsteak tomato, diced, with the skin and seeds 2 tablespoons of minced onion 1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro, including stems 1 tablespoon of minced chile serrano (this is about one chile) 2 manila mangoes, about 250 grams each, peeled and cut into roughly two-centimeter cubes 2 tablespoons fish sauce* (see note) Directions Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl, and add the fish sauce. Taste for either more fish sauce or perhaps a little salt. (I didn't use any.) Serve with tostadas.