Dried California chiles have the flavor of enchilada sauce from a can, but much more intensely flavored. Although called a chile, a California dried chile is not a spicy type. You could use my Chile Salsa (or Salsa Roja) as a dip for chips, or spoon it into your favorite taco and burrito. My Salmon Enchilada Recipe (click here) would be even more delicious using this Chile Salsa. Spoon this cheapie, but flavorful, salsa on any bland dish to kick it up a notch.
If your market has different dried chiles, like pasilla, ancho or poblano, guajillo or Anaheim, just use my recipe and make your own salsa variation. Dried chile colors go from a deep wine red to inky black.
The technique is the same: break off the stems, pour out the seeds; then steam the skins a half hour in hot water. Finally, blender the softened chiles in some chile broth and a little bit of garlic and onion. It's really easy to do and there is nothing like the intense flavor of fresh made salsa.
There are also packages of spicy dried chiles, too -- they should be labeled as "hot." It's the same technique, but be ready for a spicy kick!
Ingredients (enough for a bag or two of tortilla chips)
- 1/2 package dried chiles - any kind
- 2 cups of water - enough to cover dried chiles.
- 1/4 onion - roughly chopped for blending. Or leave out onion for a more intense chili flavor.
- 1 clove garlic - or, a chopped teaspoon from a jar.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Oregano - A small sprig.
- Jalapeno - You only need a small slice of jalapeno (fresh or from jar.) Add a little at a time to reach desired heat.
- 1 cup chopped tomato - fresh or canned tomatoes.
- Cilantro - a couple tablespoons chopped.
- A squeeze of lime
Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles.
Bring water to boil in a pot then reduce to simmer. Add dried chiles, roughly breaking them into big pieces as you add them. Simmer about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let the chiles soak in the hot water about 30 minutes to soften.
Roughly chop the 1/4 onion and clove of garlic. In a blender or food processor add 1/2 cup of water from steeping chiles. Fish out the chiles and add them to the blender. Finally add the onion and garlic (oregano, optional.)
Pulse and blend ingredients until you get a smooth tomato sauce-like texture. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. If you want extra spiciness, now's the time to add small slice of jalapeno -- add a little at a time to reach desired heat. Finish with a squeeze of lime, optional.
I added a 1/2 cup of chile broth, you can also add more or less broth for a thick or thin salsa.
Blend in a cup (or less) of chopped tomato (or tomato sauce) for a milder Chile Salsa -- it's a more traditional Mexican restaurant style. If you want the salsa extra chunky then don't blender the tomato, just hand chop it.
A couple tablespoons of chopped cilantro is a cool addition. Add it to the blender stage, or just mix it in before serving.
Try out other dried chilis you may find, some will be hotter, so taste after blended before for you serve it, so you can describe it to your guests.