Around the World in 80 Plates: A Salsa Tour of Mexico!

We all know and love salsa, which is one of the most famous Mexican foods around the world. There are more salsa recipes than ever before, and it is easy to make a recipe your very own. Different states in Mexico have different salsa recipes because their land, food, and weather is different too. This is just like how the weather in Utah is very different from the weather in Florida.

The use of salsas dates back to Aztec times when they ground tomatoes, chiles, and salt using a stone mortar and pestle called a molcajete (mole- ca- het-ay).

This yummy bowl of “smashed up stuff” was served in a clay bowl for easy dipping of tortillas or tamales. After the Spanish arrived in the Americas and started to take over, the salsa recipes began to change too as the different cultures came together and new combinations are still being created today! Want to create your own salsa? Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Salsa Roja translates to Red Salsa in English, and is usually made with roasted tomatoes, red chiles, garlic and salt. In the Northern parts of Mexico, they often cook everything together and add other spices to build big flavors because the usually serve it with roasted goat. In the South, they carefully toast dried red chiles to add to their salsa for a more delicate flavor. It is almost always SPICY!

Salsa Verde simply means green salsa, and is made with one of Mexico’s favorite ingredients: Tomatillos. They are really yummy and easy to find in Latin markets and sometimes at farmers markets. They grow in a papery husk, which needs to be taken off, then rinse the tomatillos because they might be sticky. Most people in the northern Mexico will boil the tomatillo and peppers before they puree it but most people in the south will puree everything raw.

The most recognizable salsa in the United States is well known all throughout Mexico and its usually pretty similar no matter what part of Mexico you visit. It goes well with nearly everything, but is especially good on any type of taco!

This last recipe is very different depending on the part of Mexico you visit, based on the fruit and chiles they have available to them. The Yucatan Peninsula combines limes, oranges, and habanero chiles to top their famous cochinita pibil tacos (slow roasted pork tacos). Try out this recipe for Mango Salsa, or create your own fruit salsa recipe!


1- Chappell G. Interview: Mexican Salsa by State. June 2021.

2- Chef Dax, Mauricio. Mexican Salsas. Asenzya. https://www.asenzya.com/trending-flavors/mexican-salsas/. Published December 4, 2019. Accessed June 2, 2021.

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