Salsa de Molcajete

Time30 minutes
YieldsMakes 1 1/2 cups
Salsa de Molcajete
(Esteban Castillo)
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A good salsa de molcajete is like a little black dress: It’s versatile! Ground in a molcajete, a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle made from volcanic rock, this chunky and smoky salsa made from roasted tomatoes, toasted chiles de árbol and fresh onion and cilantro is perfect on fried eggs, chilaquiles, a bowl of frijolitos, tacos or a quesadilla. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, this can easily be made in a food processor. Serve this salsa with tortilla chips too, if you like.

From the story: The secret to the best tacos from the creator of ‘Chicano Eats’


Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the tomatoes skin side up on the baking sheet and broil on the top rack until the skins blacken and blister, about 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.


Meanwhile, in a dry skillet, toast the chiles over medium heat for 1 minute, flip them, then toast for 1 more minute.


Add the garlic, toasted chiles and salt to a molcajete or large mortar. Use the piedra or pestle to grind everything together until a paste is formed. Add the blistered tomatoes, one at a time, and grind them into the paste. Add the lime juice, half of the diced onion and half of the chopped cilantro, then use a spoon to mix everything together; add more salt to taste. Top the salsa with the remaining diced onion and chopped cilantro to serve.

Food Processor Salsa
Follow the recipe through toasting the chiles, then add all of the ingredients to the processor and pulse until everything has been fully incorporated but is still slightly chunky.
From the book “Chicano Eats: Recipes From My Mexican-American Kitchen” by Esteban Castillo. Copyright © 2020 by Esteban Castillo. Published on June 30, 2020, by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.