Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Homemade salsa (for tacos)

When I say "salsa", I mean to imply a sauce to be put on EVERYTHING GOOD IN THIS WORLD. This is not a pico de gallo. Or a simple tomato salsa. This is a serious hot sauce. It's not so spicy you can't pour it on, and it has so much complex flavor you'll never believe how good it is it until you taste it.

I know you. You're going to look at these ingredients and go "Fish sauce!? Seriously!?" and think to leave it out. Don't. Don't do it!

It's so good just the way it is.

Geoff loves it and he gets uncomfortable sometimes with things that are too spicy, so don't freak out when you see "habanero", either.

A friend of Geoff's gave me this recipe and it's based off the salsa served at a little taco stand in Bakersfield called "Dave's Tacos". There is nothing on earth better than a Dave's Taco. And the sauce is what makes them so good. In no way do I believe this is their exact recipe, but it's close enough and it gets the job done for us, living 130 miles away from Dave's Tacos.

Ingredients

10 - 13 tomatillos, peeled of their paper
5 - 7 garlic cloves, left in their paper
4 Fresno chiles (the red ones that look like jalapenos)
2 jalapenos
1 habanero
4 - 6 dried chiles Japanese (they're in the Mexican aisle - you can sub chiles de arbol if you can't find the Japanese ones)
Juice of 1 lime
1 T. fish sauce
2 T. oyster sauce
1 T. Sriracha
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp ground cumin
Handful of cilantro (about half a bunch)
Salt and black pepper to taste

Put tomatillos, garlic and fresh chiles (go ahead and put the dried ones in the blender) on a baking pan and broil for about 5 - 10 minutes per side or until tomatillos and chiles are blackened (garlic won't blacken, but will get soft inside the paper).

Put the tomatillos (and any juice on the baking dish) into the blender. Take all the chiles and seed them using tongs and a knife (or you can use gloves, but I find it easier and less fussy to just hold the chiles with tongs and scrape the seeds out using my knife).

Add the de-seeded chiles and the rest of the ingredients to the blender. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Chill and serve over carnitas tacos.

Or any tacos of your choice.

I am telling you - you will not be disappointed. In fact, I bet you'll be amazed at how good this salsa is.

If you make it and don't like it, send it to me because I will eat all of it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I have actually tried to replicate this recipe. Was missing a couple of the ingredients. I now live in Oklahoma and CRAVE Dave's Tacos. Thank you so much!

Meghan said...

You're welcome! Please come back and let me know how it turned out! We love it. Another secret to Dave's tacos is he puts Oyster sauce on the meat, too. It gives it that signature extra savory, delicious flavor!! (And of course you know to serve with lime wedges, radish slices and PLENTY of salt :D)

Anonymous said...

OMG! ... You are my hero! I have been eating at Dave's since the late 80's when he was parked outside the tire station in Weedpatch! When I lived in LA and Fresno I would drive to Bakersfield just to get tacos! I am now living back in town and enjoy Dave's a couple times a month.
Last Sunday I had a serious craving and unfortunately thats the only day he is closed. I searched for over an hour trying to find some sauce close to his and came across your blog... WOW! I followed the recipe and it was amazing! almost identical! I took some to friends and my parents and they all agreed it was as close as you can get. Totally satisfied my craving and I am so thankful to you!!!!!!
I do have a couple questions though... unfortunately I couldnt find Fresno chiles and the produce guy said serrano chiles were a good substitute and I also used the arbol dried chiles instead of Japanese dried chiles, but that was the only variation I made... the color wasnt the same orangish/red that Daves has and also it was super hot!! ... was this because of the substitution or did I do something else wrong? any way to cool it down some? what should I use less of or not include?
Sorry for the long post, but I have been singing your praises all week because the sauce is awesome!!
I feel a little bad for betraying Dave but it will never replace his sauce and I will continue to eat his orginal, but this is a great alternative!!!! Thank YOU!!

Anonymous said...

OMG! ... You are my hero! I have been eating at Dave's since the late 80's when he was parked outside the tire station in Weedpatch! When I lived in LA and Fresno I would drive to Bakersfield just to get tacos! I am now living back in town and enjoy Dave's a couple times a month.
Last Sunday I had a serious craving and unfortunately thats the only day he is closed. I searched for over an hour trying to find some sauce close to his and came across your blog... WOW! I followed the recipe and it was amazing! almost identical! I took some to friends and my parents and they all agreed it was as close as you can get. Totally satisfied my craving and I am so thankful to you!!!!!!
I do have a couple questions though... unfortunately I couldnt find Fresno chiles and the produce guy said serrano chiles were a good substitute and I also used the arbol dried chiles instead of Japanese dried chiles, but that was the only variation I made... the color wasnt the same orangish/red that Daves has and also it was super hot!! ... was this because of the substitution or did I do something else wrong? any way to cool it down some? what should I use less of or not include?
Sorry for the long post, but I have been singing your praises all week because the sauce is awesome!!
I feel a little bad for betraying Dave but it will never replace his sauce and I will continue to eat his orginal, but this is a great alternative!!!! Thank YOU!!

Meghan said...

hehe awesome! Glad you liked it!! Well, "fresno chiles" are the red jalapenos -- I'm surprised you can't find them at the grocery store there! I can get them here on the central coast and there's MUCH less Mexican-hispanic foods here! I believe serranos are a lot spicier than the fresnos so even removing the seeds, you're gonna get a more spicy salsa ... also the serranos are green and the fresnos are red so that could affect the color.

Arbols are more spicy than the japanese ones, so that could explain it ... and also just each chile has varying degrees of spice depending on season, etc. (sometimes jalapenos are really spicy, sometimes more mild)

Man I haven't had the sauce in awhile and this is making me want some again!!!

I agree -- this isn't the SAME as his sauce, but it's pretty darn close and will DEFINITELY satisfy the cravings for it!!! Mmm I'm gonna have to make some soon!

Meghan said...

Oh and if you want it to be less hot -- just use more tomatillos! :D And I don't know how Dave gets his so red either! I'm sure the serrano v. fresno chiles made a difference for your sauce though ... I mean, those fresnos are bright red so that will definitely affect the color of the sauce.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Just made this and it is so freaking YUM! I am a dave taco addict , but I live 300 miles away. This time when visiting , I found your blog. YUM YUM YUM and THANK YOU SO MUCH! I followed the recipe exactly. I served them just like Dave does- onion, cilantro, lime and radishes---, and my oh my....they hit the spot!
My mouth is still burning but I dont care! The color and flavor is how I remember the sauce the very first time I had one .. 18 years ago The sauce wasnt always that bright. Thank you again! YAY!

Unknown said...

Meghan I hope you're still around! Have you done anything to tweak this recipe or is it still good to go? I once offered Dave $200 cash, two $100 dollar bills handed to him for the recipe and he laughed (remember his laugh) and said "no Dan, never". Just had Dave's two days ago and it isn't the same. Please let me know if you have changed anything. This will be a killer thread because all my friends love Dave's old sauce!

Meghan said...

Hi! I basically follow this recipe to this day, when I can find the red jalapenos. If I can't, I just play around a little, but it's SO CLOSE to the real thing that it works for me :) Thanks for all the comments, guys!