Think of this recipe as a base for creative experimentation. If you prefer a milder salsa, or are serving this to heat-sensitive diners, you can add a cup of chopped (or canned) tomatoes to the blender when you puree the other ingredients, and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Pulse in some chopped cilantro or oregano for a layer of freshness. Add complexity by toasting a teaspoon of cumin or coriander seeds when you toast the chilies. Up the sharpness with more lime or a few spoonfuls of vinegar, or balance heat with sweetness by adding honey or agave nectar.
Dried Chile Salsa Recipe
The heat of this salsa is entirely dependent on the kind of chiles you use. Mulato chiles yield a brick red, earthy salsa, while Espelette salsa is the color of fresh cherries, hot yet fruity. Yahualica chiles de arbol yield a bright orange salsa that is fiercely spicy. Use milder salsas as a sauce for enchiladas and sprinkle hotter ones on finished dishes as a hot sauce. Try a mix of chiles to get rich flavors (Ancho, Mulato, Espelette, Red Serrano) with a touch of heat (Cascabel & Yahualica).
1 ounce (30 grams) whole dried chiles, any variety
3 cloves (10 grams) garlic
1 small (90 grams) yellow onion, peeled
2 cups water
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon salt
Using kitchen shears, snip stems from dried chiles and empty of any loose seeds. Don’t worry about removing every single seed, but removing some will reduce the chance of bitterness in your finished salsa. Snip chilies in half.
In a dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast chile halves for a few moments per side, just until fragrant. Do not burn.
In a small saucepan, combine onion, chiles, garlic and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Using tongs, fish chiles and onion out of saucepan and place them into the jar of a blender or immersion blender. Do the same for cloves of garlic, pausing to peel them out of their papery skins. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.
Add half of the reserved cooking water to blender and puree. Add lime juice, oil, and salt and blend to combine, thinning with more cooking water as needed. Add more salt and lime juice if necessary.
Store salsa in the refrigerator and eat within a week.