Pico de Gallo is one of the most simple and popular Mexican sauces. This “salsa” is a must-to-serve dish over the tables of the Mexican restaurants, along with Nachos, Salsa Picante, and Salsa Tomatillo. Called also Salsa Bandera (flag sauce) because of the same colors of the Mexican Flag, Pico de Gallo is made with simple and healthy ingredients, without any fat adding: it’s vegan, and it’s delicious! Here the whole history and the traditional recipe!
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PICO DE GALLO SAUCE OR SALAD?
Everyone has been in Mexico, or at least got dinner in a Mexican restaurant, knows very well the Pico de Gallo salad. But, is it really a Salad? Even if the ingredients and the method to prepare Pico de Gallo are closer to a salad than a sauce, in Mexico is common to refer to it as a salsa (sauce).
ORIGIN OF THE NAME
The origin of the name Pico de Gallo (rooster beak) is mysterious and has many interpretations.
The American food writer Sharon Tyler Herbst affirmed the name derives from the gesture to pick the single pieces between the thumb and the forefinger: similar to a rooster beak. It seems that in origin it was typical to eat the Salsa without any silverware.
Otherwise, in the book “Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico”, Rick Bayless support the Idea Pico de Gallo is named in this way because of the size of the diced ingredients, close in shape to the bird-feed.
Another theory popular in Mexico tells that the vegetable pieces have to be as little as cut by a rooster’ beak, and spicy as like a peck on the tongue!
Finally, another tale maintains the Idea the name deduce the name from the shape of the Serrano peppers, similar to a rooster beak.
PICO DE GALLO VARIATIONS
The Classic Pico de Gallo recipe requires just five ingredients: ripe tomatoes, onion, Mexican green peppers, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. But, this timeless recipe can vary depending on the seasons, the regions, and the family history.
This salsa is popular in all of Mexico, particularly in the regions of Sonora, Yucatan, Guanajuato, and Oaxaca, with some variations. For instance, in Yucatan, it is called X’nipek (dog nose) and flavored with the extra spicy Habanero pepper.
An interesting variation is the sweet Pico de Gallo, made with seasonal fruit, lime, salt, and chili powder.
Besides the basic vegetables of Pico de Gallo, several chefs love to add other ingredients like radish, Jicama (Mexican potato), oranges, or watermelon.
TIPS AND PAIRINGS
Prepare a Pico de Gallo to perfection it’s easy, here some tips:
PEPPERS: the most popular pepper to make Pico de Gallo is Serrano, followed by the Jalapeno: I love to mix them. If you feel really, really brave, you can give a chance to Habanero, but be prepared to flames in your mouth!
ONIONS: either white or red are excellent choices: personally, I prefer red onion.
TOMATOES: you want the tomatoes perfectly ripe and juicy.
RESTING: I like to rest the Pico de Gallo to give to the vegetables the time to expel their tasty juice to enhance the flavor of the salsa.
Pico the Gallo is a very versatile recipe and pairs with a great variety of dishes.
The most simple pairing is certainly with the Guacamole: together they are a healthy and vegan bomb of tastiness!
Pico de Gallo is also great with fish, try it with tuna salad or grilled fish!
Another classic use of this salad is as an ingredient inside burritos or tacos or paired with fajitas.
PICO DE GALLO RECIPE
- 1 cup Serrano and jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
- 1 cup red or white onion, diced
- 3 cups ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 Lime
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
- to taste table salt
- FIRST STEPS
Rinse the tomatoes, and reduce into dices big as corn grains. Then, peel and dice the onion, same size of tomatoes. Finally, cut the pepper into halves, discard the stems and the seed, and dice, as big as the other vegetables.
- PICO DE GALLO
Now, combine all the diced vegetables and season with lime juice, then salt to taste. Store in the fridge a couple of hours. Eventually, add the minced coriander and serve.
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