In southern California you will find a standard Mexican restaurant called Cotixan Mexican Food. From the outside, it looks like any other fast food Mexican restaurant you have ever seen, like, literally everywhere.
I was surprised in such a wondrous way -- with the salsa to be exact.
Yes, the food is delicious. It really is. And not *just* for Mexican food. The quality is is strong, and the flavors are pleasant -- milder than the deep greasy fare you can often find in the southwestern region. That is lest you decide to gorge on enough food to feed a family of six.
Anyway, it was the orange-colored salsa that caught my attention and left me feeling such a deep longing for yet another trip to Cotixan. Word on the street is that the owner sold his soul for the recipe.
I believe it.
The salsa has a luscious, semi-sweet flavor with the exact amount of spice. The last I was there, I stashed a few extra and brought them home and attempted to replicate the recipe.
One of the cashiers let loose that the restaurant, which makes the salsa fresh on site, uses ancho chili peppers. Score for insider information!
I promptly rushed to the nearby store and purchased a massive lot.
I turned to the interwebs. Appears that it is quite common, when people are making "orange-colored" salsa, to use creme or crema, adobo, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppercorns, cloves, Mexican oregano, lemon or lime, cumin, honey, coriander, sugar, salt, garlic, white vinegar, oil and roasted pumpkin and sesame seeds.
I made three batches, using a variation of all of those ingredients.
I was like a mad woman in the kitchen! No measuring at all ever. Just a ton of eyeballing and tasting.
One would have the right texture, but the flavor was off.
One would have the perfect color, but the flavor and the texture were both off.
The one nearest the flavor was a tad bit too sweet. I tried thinning the sweetness with spices and a bit more vingegar, but the flavor grew more and more dull.
Drat! I haven't broken the code. But I have at least learned how to make homemade salsa. Bonus!