|Type||Sauce, Dip, Condiment|
|Region or state||Mexico, Spain, Catalonia|
Salsa (lit. "sauce") is a term for a reduced cooking sauce and, in the English-speaking world, often for a type of dip or condiment. For example, the North African dish shakshouka is called huevos cocinados con salsa de tomate (lit. boiled eggs with tomato sauce) in Spanish. In medieval Catalan cuisine, the term was used for the cooking base of thick potaje stews like guisado. This stew is also made in Venezuelan cuisine by cooking small cubes of meat in liquid until reduced to a thickened salsa. In the English-speaking world, the term salsa is often used for a spicy tomato-and-chili-based relish found in Mexican, Texan, Central American and South American cuisine. This style of salsa is commonly used as a dip alongside tortilla chips, or as a condiment served with dishes like huevos rancheros or burritos.
In the Hispanophone world, there are hundreds of different kinds of salsas made with varied ingredients such as green peppers, tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, dill, red peppers. Some salsas include less commonly used ingredients like cucumbers or avocado.
The medieval Catalan cookbook Libre del coch (1520) includes several salsa recipes using ingredients such as ginger, mace powder (flor de macis), cinnamon, saffron, cloves (clauells de girofle), wine and honey. Salsa de pagó took its name from the peacock (Catalan: el paó) that it was intended to be served with, but could accompany any type of poultry, and was part of the medieval Christmas meal.
Salsa mirraust (or mirausto alla catalana as it's called in the Cuoco Napoletano) was half-roasted (mi-raust) poultry that was finished in a salsa thickened with egg yolks, toasted almonds and breadcrumbs. In the version of the recipe from the 14th-century Libre de Sent Soví, the sauce is thickened with mashed poultry liver instead of egg yolks. The medieval recipes for salsa romesco are similarly thickened with crushed nuts, though in modern times romesco sauce is made with red peppers (an ingredient that doesn't enter European cuisine until the Age of Discovery).
The word salsa entered the English language from the Spanish salsa ("sauce"), which itself derives from the Latin salsus (salted). The native Spanish pronunciation is [ˈsalsa]. In American English it can sometimes be pronounced with a short A sound (//) especially in regions further North, while in British English it is pronounced with a long A sound (//.)
Mexican salsas were traditionally produced using the mortar and pestle-like molcajete, although blenders are now more commonly used. The Maya made salsa also, using a mortar and pestle. Well-known salsas include:
Outside Mexico and Central America, the following salsas are common to each of the following regions; in Argentina and the Southern Cone, chimichurri sauce is common. Chimichurri is "a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce that is the salsa (and leading condiment) in Argentina and Uruguay, served with grilled meat. It is made of chopped fresh parsley and onion, seasoned with garlic, oregano, salt, cayenne chilies and black pepper and bound with oil and vinegar." In Costa Rica, dishes are prepared with salsa Lizano, a thin, smooth, light brown sauce. In Cuba and the Caribbean, a typical salsa is mojo. Unlike the tomato-based salsas, mojo typically consists of olive oil, garlic, and citrus juice, and is used both to marinate meats and as a dipping sauce.
Most jarred, canned, and bottled salsa and picante sauces sold in the United States in grocery stores are forms of salsa cruda or pico de gallo, and typically have a semi-liquid texture. To increase their shelf lives, these salsas have been cooked to a temperature of 175 °F (79 °C), and are thus not truly cruda (raw). Some have added vinegar, and some use pickled peppers instead of fresh ones. Tomatoes are strongly acidic by nature, which, along with the heat processing, is enough to stabilize the product for grocery distribution.
Picante sauce of the American type is often thinner in consistency than what is labelled as "salsa". Picante is a Spanish adjective meaning "piquant", which derives from picar ("to sting"), referring to the feeling caused by salsas on one's tongue.
Many grocery stores in the United States and Canada also sell fresh refrigerated salsa, usually in plastic containers. Fresh salsa is usually more expensive and has a shorter shelf life than canned or jarred salsa. It may or may not contain vinegar.
Taco sauce is a condiment sold in American grocery stores and fast food Tex-Mex outlets. Taco sauce is similar to its Mexican counterpart in that it is smoothly blended, having the consistency of thin ketchup. It is made from tomato paste instead of whole tomatoes and lacks the seeds and chunks of vegetables found in picante sauce.
While some salsa fans do not consider jarred products to be real salsa cruda, their widespread availability and long shelf life have been credited with much of salsa's enormous popularity in states outside the southwest, especially in areas where salsa is not a traditional part of the cuisine. In 1992, the dollar value of salsa sales in the United States exceeded those of tomato ketchup.
The World Health Organization says care should be taken in the preparation and storage of salsas and any other types of sauces, since many raw-served varieties can act as growth media for potentially dangerous bacteria, especially when unrefrigerated.
A 2010 paper on salsa food hygiene described refrigeration as "the key" to safe sauces. This study also found that fresh lime juice and fresh garlic (but not powdered garlic) would prevent the growth of Salmonella.
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