Archive | 1:45 pm

One (condiment) That Got Away

24 Mar

Yesterday I outted myself as a sauce junkie, admitted my condiment addiction, so today, I put forth the greatest condiment conundrum I’ve ever faced; the search for the perfect salsa. I hope someone can help me get my fix!

A few years ago, I was asked if I wanted to go to Cozumel over Super Bowl weekend. Being one that doesn’t give a fig about football, but does love habanero salsa, swimming and conch cocktail, how could I refuse?

So off I flew. I nearly ran into a shark while snorkeling (no contact lenses), I did bandera shots with a local, and I managed not to get sunburned, but most importantly, I ate at La Choza. It’s very unfortunate that their website sucks, because, if I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant that I wish, oh how I wish, would make their secret recipes public, this is the one!

Their pollo en relleno negro and sopa de lima are awesome, but the true draw, the condiment that got away, is the salsa. Yes, just the normal salsa they put on the table to eat with tortilla chips, the reason to hop on a plane and sit in a tropical paradise and feel like you’ve discovered a hidden foodie nirvana, is for the salsa at La Choza.

I went back at least three times trying to dissect this secret, firey elixir. It resembles an aïoli more than a traditional salsa. It definitely has acid in it, both in the form of vinegar and citrus. I think the chiles had been fire roasted because I remember little flecks of black in it. It had definitely been emulsified with an oil, that’s what gave it the creamy texture, and it had a serious kick, probably the local habaneros I would imagine. I’ve tried to recreate this salsa many times, and failed miserably each time. I’ve done research up to my eyeballs, and have found nothing.
The owner gave me one intriguing clue, that his family was originally from Michoacán and that most of the dishes on their menu were a mix of family recipes from the old state combined with the traditional dishes of Quintana Roo. I’ve tried exploring this route too, and well, gotten nowhere.