My beloved aunt Lily is my mom's sister. They are originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and she is one of the best cooks I've ever met. As a rule, I don't eat at Mexican restaurants because nothing compares to my tia's cooking. I only eat her posole, and her tamales are a Christmas treat, but what she's best known for is her salsa.
Lest you think I'm putting my own mother down, let me tell you who the best Puerto Rican cook I've ever met is: my mom. While Tia Lily is the consummate Mexican cocinera, my mom had to learn to cook for my dad, who preferred his own homeland's cuisine. And hates celery.
The joke in our family is that you can always tell how angry she was when she makes her salsas by the level of spice. Those babies will burn through your tongue, even when she's in the greatest of moods. They can take on any Indian curry or southern Thai dish in a heat competition. You will probably sweat eating them. And it'll be totally worth it.
She made this salsa for a recent family gathering. One of the wonderful things about our family is that every occasion brings out the entire clan. I have 5 cousins on that side, 4 of which have their own children, and I love the parties we have together. Piñatas, food, music, and kids running everywhere, that's life. It was on one of these family affairs, while my mouth was on fire, that I begged her to share the recipe. She laughed while telling me how utterly simple it is.
Like my dad's salsa, it goes great on everything: rice, tacos, eggs. But the salsa verde has far less heat than this one, so be careful how much you throw on your plate. Make sure you have lots of crema (or sour cream, milk, what have you) on hand!
- 8 tomatillos
- 6 chiles arbol (with seeds)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon oil for frying chiles
- 3 sprigs cilantro (more for garnish)
- salt to taste