Gimme the #4 -- With Some Extra Rooster's Beak Please!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fresh Pico De Gallo
Today's entry children? Fun With Translations!!!

That lip-smacking entry to your immediate right is the result of what we've been pulling out of the garden lately. Yes -- we always wait until it's far too late to pull out the last of the tomato and pepper plants -- which means we wear four layers of clothing to do the job because it's the DEAD of WINTER.

But there are some advantages to this little game of ours -- as evidenced by the garden fresh bowl of Pico (Peek-Oh) De (Day) Gallo (Guy-Yo). What is Pico De Gallo? Good question. Also known as "Salsa Fresca," this is a close cousin to the normal canned salsas you will find on your supermarket shelf -- except it's fresh and made with fresh ingredients.

Tomatoes & Jalapeno Peppers from the garden
The best Pico De Gallo -- by the way - comes straight from what you can whip up from the old backyard garden. Our Pico De Gallo contains fresh tomatoes, cilantro, rau rum (Vietnamese Corriander), green onions, chopped yellow onion, garlic chives and most importantly: a sliced, diced and very-well chopped up Jalapeno pepper. Finish the dish off with a sprinkling of salt and some freshly squeezed lime juice -- and VOILA!!! You have fresh condiment that spices up just about any meal or snack.

Venus and I have been making this dish quite a bit recently in response to three Jalapeno pepper plants that are still producing during this cold and wet fall weather plus a hidden tomato or two plucked from the still producing -- but slowly dying -- backyard tomato garden.

Rau Rum (Vietnamese Corriander)
While creating this dish the other night for a meal of Chicken Fajitas (also utilizing bell peppers and onions from the backyard garden) -- the wonderful wife that is Venus casually mentioned: "do you know what Pico De Gallo means?"

I thought for a minute. Fresh tomato salsa maybe? That was a stab in the dark. I really didn't know. The bi-lingual wife had stumped me again. I had no idea.

"It means Rooster's Beak," she said.

"It does not," I retorted! I had a hard time believing that --and for good reason. The lovely wife may be lovely indeed -- but she also loves to tease. She did -- after all -- tell me once that the word "Menso" meant "helpful."

Pico De Gallo & Radishes for Dinner!
I thought she was just calling me "helpful" for all of these years...

Still not trusting the wife -- I hopped on the computer to check the always handy and always dandy Google Translator. Sure enough! The wife wasn't telling me another story. Pico De Gallo translates directly to "Rooster's Beak." Why? I don't know!

I only know that this Rooster's Beak is some good stuff! It's even better when you can pull everything you need for this signature dish straight from the backyard garden. I've come to discover that the key ingredient for this dish is the pepper that gives it its signature kick: The Jalapeno pepper.

Venus and I have grown a wide variety of hot peppers through the years -- ranging from the mighty Habanero to the Thai Red peppers. They have either been far too hot for our needs -- or haven't delivered enough of a kick to keep us coming back for more.

Rooster's Beak? Really?
But the used and abused Jalapeno? It's perfect for just about any signature dish. Scads of them have found their way into our canned salsa creations and Venus wound up canning a few jars of peppers with carrots utlizing a recipe that came straight from the trusted Ball Book of Home Preserving.

Fresh or canned -- nothing beats the Jalapeno pepper. It has found its way into numerous dishes. A bowl of Vietnamese Chicken Pho -- for example -- isn't complete without four five slices of Jalapeno. And -- if you find yourself ordering any Subway Sandwich with "everything," you'll find a few slices there was well. It delivers just the right bite -- without burning your lips off.

That's a plus!

Our recipe for fresh Rooster's Beak -- ahem -- Pico De Gallo (it just sounds so much better that way) is printed below.

Bill & Venus' Fresh Rooster's Beak:

2-3 tomatoes
1/2 yellow or red onion
1 green onion
Garlic Chives (if you have them)
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or rau rum
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 Jalapeno Pepper
Juice of 1 lime (or lime juice)
Salt to taste

Directions:

You can use a food processor for some of the chopping -- but the tomatoes must be cut with a knife. I use an ordinary bread knife for this job because the serrated edge allows you to cut the tomato into thick slices without bruising. I use a "three slice" method when chopping tomatoes for Pico De Gallo. I first cut normal slices -- similar to what you might place on a hamburger. I stack these slices and slice carefully again -- then rotate for a third slice. This will produce small, bite sized pieces of tomato without bruising.

I will also defer to a food processor for the onion -- garlic, cilantro and Jalapeno pepper (because I'm lazy). You want the onion chopped into small pieces -- but not mutilated (which a food processor can do). I also use the processor to cut the garlic, cilantro and jalapeno into small bits. Cut the top off the pepper before processing -- but don't get rid of the seeds. It adds to the KICK!

Venus uses a pair of kitchen shears to cut the green onion and chives directly into the bowl holding the Pico De Gallo creation. If shears aren't available? A butcher knife will do the job just fine. Again -- the end result should be small, bite-sized pieces.

Every yard in America should have a Bearss Lime Tree. This should almost be a law. This dish is SO MUCH BETTER with the juice of one fresh lime. But -- if you can't get fresh -- ordinary lime juice will do. 2-3 tablespoons will do the trick.

Sprinkle your creation with salt and do a final taste test. It might be a tad too hot to start out with -- but give the mixture five to ten minutes to incorporate the myriad of flavors. It will cool down nicely.

Trust me on this. Remember, I'm "helpful." The wife says it is so.

2 comments:

kieferorthop√§de m√ľnchen said...

wow! great recipe. would love to try those at home. thanks for sharing.

Jenn's Cooking Garden! said...

I always enjoy your blog! I always seem to learn something new! I am up to my eyeballs with end of the year tomatos! Cant wait till next year!