An old fashioned molcajete salsa that can’t be more traditional and authentic: Roasted tomatoes, chilies, onions and garlic is all you need to make this amazing spicy salsa, even if you don’t own a molcajete, keep reading because I’m gonna tell you how can you still enjoy this staple recipe in just a few minutes.
What is molcajete?
Molcajete refers to a Mexican mortar and pestle made from volcanic stone, used since ancient times in Mexico. The bowl’s (mortar) name is molcajete and the hand-held tool, made from the same material, is called tejolote, both comes from the nahuatl language molcaxitl and texolotl respectively.
This amazing tool is used for grinding many ingredients, from seeds to vegetables and almost every home in Mexico owns one. Mine is bought from an online store but my older sister, Nora, has the one that belonged to our grand grandmother.
Is not easy to find a good molcajete these days but if you want to make this sauce you can also use a regular mortar and pestle or even a blender, I’ll let you now below how to do so.
How is made the molcajete sauce?
Salsa de molcajete can be made with many type of chilies and tomatoes. There are tomatillo sauce, tomate sauce and plain chili sauce. But today I’d like to introduce to this salsa my grandma and my mother used to make almost every-single-day.
They loved this salsa with frijoles de la olla sprinkled with queso fresco and paired with homemade corn tortillas. So simple, yet so delicious that actually that’s one of my favourite ways to enjoy it aswell :)
There are two ways to cook the ingredients for this molcajete salsa, one is boiling them and the other is roasting them in a comal. I love the second one and I always go for it every time I can. If you don’t have a comal at home no worries, you can roast ingredientes in the oven or use a stove griddle.
About The Ingredients
TOMATOES. Use ripe tomatoes, the ones that are very soft and also very bright in color.
CHILIES. You can use any kind or color of chilies as long as they’re fresh and spicy. For example, serranos are the first option but you can also use jalapeno or thai green chilies. If you don’t want the salsa to be too spicy, you can cut them longwise and discard the veins and seeds.
CILANTRO. We are using cilantro only as garnish, feel free to leave it out, but believe me when I tell you that it really adds a nice touch to this molcajete salsa!
ONIONS. Some for roasting and making the sauce and some fresh for garnish.
GARLIC. Garlic is all you need to add a bit of flavor to this sauce, roasting brings it to the next level.
SALT. Sea salt, kosher salt, himalaya salt or my favourite: Cuyutlán salt.
Our recipe for molcajete salsa
Heat a comal or a cast iron pan over high heat. Roast ingredients turning them frequently until cooked and charred. Start with tomatoes, then add onions and last add chilies and garlic. You can also use your oven to roast everything at 400°F/200° for about 20 minutes.
In a molcajete or mortar add first the garlic, chilies, and one teaspoon of salt. Grind until mixture is almost pastelike. Add also onions and pestle to combine.
Add tomatoes one by one and grind slowly until you reach the desired consistency, I like to leave some chunks here and there. Leave the mixture to cool until room temperature.
Chop the remaining onions and cilantro and add to the sauce. Mix, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve.
Using a blender
You can use a regular blender to make this Mexican salsa. Just try to not blend too much if you want to achieve a “rustic” consistency. Also, the taste might change a bit, so take in mind that and only use this option if you don’t have a mortar at home.
Place first garlic, a few chillies, salt and one or two tomatoes. Blend for 20 seconds at medium speed. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse two or three times to achieve a mashed/chopped consistency. Serve as suggested.
How to store
This molcajete salsa stores nicely in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Place it on a plastic or glass container with an air-tight lid. And, you can also freeze it for up to 3 months, just don’t garnish with cilantro and onions, you can add those after thawing the salsa overnight and right before serving.
- 1 lb ripe tomatoes
- 1 to 5 jalapeno or serrano chilies (depends on how spicy you’d like)
- 1 medium white onion (halved)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
- bunch of cilantro (chopped)
- 1 small white onion (chopped)
- Heat a comal or a cast iron pan over high heat. Roast ingredients turning them frequently until cooked and charred. Start with tomatoes, then add onions and last add chilies and garlic (read note 1)
- In a molcajete or mortar add first the garlic, chilies, and one teaspoon of salt. Grind until mixture is almost paste-like.
- Add onions and crush them until combined with the paste.
- Add tomatoes one by one and grind slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
- Add onions and cilantro to the salsa. Mix, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve.
- You can also use your oven to roast everything at 400°F/200° for about 20 minutes.
- You can use any kind or color of chilies as long as they’re fresh and spicy.