Salsa Roja is a flavor packed earthy red chili sauce that goes great with tons of dishes. This Salsa Roja is pan charred then briefly blended for a robust chunky salsa. Use it for eggs, meats, burgers, tacos, or just for dipping tortilla chips!
Salsa Roja can be made many different ways. This is a quick and easy take on the ones I’ve liked the best. I’ve kept the ingredients simple; White Onion, Tomatillos, Roma Tomatoes, Ancho Chilis, and a pinch of salt. As with all cooking, you’re free to adjust and amend this recipe as you’d like. You might want to add garlic or a squeeze of lime juice. Or maybe some orange juice or sugar. You might want to reduce the amount of Ancho Chilis or you might like to strain the sauce to eliminate the chunks. It’s up to you!
Salsa Roja is traditionally made on a Comal then ground up in a Molcajete. These tools are equivalent to a cast iron skillet and a mortar and pestle. I feel like most recipes suggest roasting the ingredients on a sheet pan but I find a stove top skillet to be a little easier – I like to see what’s going on. Just hang out with some tongs and occasionally turn the tomatoes, tomatillos, and onions in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Remove them from the skillet when they start to soften and char. If your tomatoes are a little under ripe like mine were, you can add a quarter cup of water to the skillet and cover it for a couple minutes to soften them up. Depending on how dry your Ancho Chilis are they may take a few seconds or a minute. Try not to let the burn though.
Allow your ingredients to cool then transfer them to a blender. Hey, if you want to pound your salsa by hand in a mortar and pestle be my guest. Personally, it’s been a long week and I’m in no mood for pound town. Wait… that’s not right. A blender allows you to make quick work of blitzing your salsa in no time. Plus you get maximum control over how smooth or chunky you want your salsa.
Transfer the Salsa Roja to a container. Allow to cool completely before covering tightly. The flavors will mellow out and blend together the longer you allow this to chill out. It’s best after 24 hours.
Philly Tip: I had a hard time finding dried chilis at the grocery stores. Hit up Reading Terminal Market where you can find dried chilis at Iovine’s, 12th St. Cantina, and The Head Nut.
- 1 oz. Dried Ancho Chilis
- 5 Roma Tomatoes
- 5 Tomatillos
- 1 Medium White Onion
- 1-2 tsp Salt
- Remove the husks from five tomatillos and wash thoroughly. Remove the skin from a medium white onion and roughly chop. Wash tomatoes.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
- Place tomatillos and tomatoes around the outside of the skillet. Add onions to the center. Cook vegetables untouched until the bottom begins to char. Turn or toss occasionally to prevent burning. Transfer to a medium metal or glass bowl as each ingredient is charred to your liking. If the tomatoes or tomatillos are still firm, add a 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover to steam for a few minutes to soften them up. Heat chilis on their own for about 15 seconds per side. Transfer to bowl and remove the stems when they're cool enough to touch.
- Allow ingredients to cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer all ingredients to a blender with a teaspoon of salt. Pulse to reach desired consistency.
- Place salsa in a container that has a tight fitting lid. Place in refrigerator with lid to completely cool for about an hour. Taste to see if it needs any more salt. Cover tightly with lid and refrigerate for about 24 hours before consuming.
I’m Anthony from Philadelphia. I started Eat Up! Kitchen because I love food. Not just that stuff you eat in the car or have GrubHubbed before you watch Game of Thrones, but the stuff that our history, culture, and tradition are built around.