I am a huge fan of spicy flavors. I believe that any dish can be made better with a dash or two or five of hot sauce. When it comes to Mexican food, adding homemade salsa to a cheese quesadilla or taco completes the meal. I prefer to use jalapeno peppers in my salsa because they are not too high or low on the Scoville Heat Scale. In the Encyclopedia of Country Living, Carla Emery describes jalapeno peppers as “very hot” with a Scoville rating of 3,500 to 4,000. They have a much sharper taste than a mild pepper. In comparison, the hottest of the hot peppers such as Cayenne, Serrano, Tabasco, and Habanero have Scoville ratings upwards of 20,000. The hottest pepper of all, the Tepin pepper, has a Scoville rating of 160,000-600,000! Just the thought of eating one of these peppers makes my eyes water and my tongue burn. I would need a gallon of milk to quell the intense burning from these peppers!
Carla Emery has a fantastic recipe for homemade salsa for those interested in trying a spicy yet tame jalapeno pepper salsa with their next Mexican meal. For the more adventurous cook, try her recipe for spicy salsa made with hot red chilies.
Spicy Homemade Salsa:
1. Chop 3 fresh jalapeno or Serrano chilies, 4 ripe big tomatoes, 1 globe (or 6 green) onion, 2 garlic cloves, and 1/4-cup fresh parsley (or cilantro) leaves.
2. Mix together.
3. Stir in 1/2-teaspoon salt.
Even Spicier Homemade Salsa:
1. Combine 4 fresh (split and seeded) red chilies, 2 cups boiling hot vinegar, and 2 peeled garlic cloves.
2. Cover and let steep 2 days.
3. Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes and blend thoroughly.
4. Add 2 dried chilies.
5. Cook half hour in double boiler.
6. Strain out solids.
7. Store in refrigerator.