How To Make Salsa (Pico De Gallo)

11/03/2011 02:17 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

The vibrant flavor of fresh pico de gallo enhances a wide range of Mexican dishes. Chef Iliana de la Vega of The Culinary Institute of America starts by chopping tomatoes into a small dice, then adding them to a bowl. She then chops and adds a jalapeño (leaving the membrane and seeds intact, as is traditionally done in Mexico). Some diced onion go in next, along with chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, salt and olive oil. With a quick stir, you've got a colorful bowl of salsa.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Iliana de la Vega from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make pico de gallo, or as we call it in Spanish, salsa Mexicana.

To make salsa Mexicana or pico de gallo, we'll need some tomatoes, jalapenos, a little bit of salt, cilantro, lime, onion, and a little bit of olive oil. We'll start with a tomato. Cut it in half, and let's dice it. You want a small dice here, not big chunks. Let's keep slicing this, and now dice across. I'll make a small portion for you for this, like for two people to enjoy a little bit of salsa.

I need a bowl to start putting my ingredients together. Place all your tomatoes here. So we have tomatoes; now I'm going to use just a little bit of onion, An easy way, if you're just going to use a little bit, is you cut some rings, some half rings, off one side, and then go against the grain and dice. So you can dice just a small amount without destroying your whole onion, if you're not going to use the whole thing. I guess this is going to be enough for making your salsa.

Now we grab a jalapeno, cut it in half, take out this part - the stem - and the Mexican way is you leave it with the whole seeds and every single part of it: just take off the stem. Keep dicing. How much chile you want in your salsa, that's up to you, how spicy you want it. I like it a little bit more spicy - but that's me. Okay, there we go.

We have here our cilantro, already chopped. Now let's season the salsa. A little bit of lime juice: remember, lime, not lemons! Sprinkle some of it over the bowl; it gives a kick. The next step is a little bit of olive oil - extra-virgin will do well. And then salt to taste, and then just mix it. This is quite easy; all your ingredients can be chopped ahead of time.

Now your salsa is ready; make sure everything is mixed here. There you go - ready to be enjoyed. This is how we make a salsa Mexicana or pico de gallo.

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