Extra-Hot Yucatán-Style Roasted-Habanero Salsa (Chile Tamulado) Recipe

Extra-Hot Yucat\u00e1n-Style Roasted-Habanero Salsa (Chile Tamulado) Recipe

[Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

An incredibly fiery salsa from the Yucatán, made with charred garlic and habanero chilies. Use it sparingly on tacos, eggs, and anywhere you want a bit of brain-melting heat.

Why It Works

  • Charring the garlic and habaneros gives the salsa a smoky flavor.
  • A combination of grapefruit, lime, and orange juice replicates some of the floral, bitter aroma of Seville oranges if they are unavailable.
  • Yield:Makes about 3/4 cup salsa
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 whole head garlic, split into cloves, cloves left unpeeled
  • 24 whole habanero chilies (about 6 ounces; 170g) (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 grapefruit (1 ounce; 30ml) (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 orange (1 ounce; 30ml) (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 2 limes (1 ounce; 30ml) (see note)
  • Salt

Directions

  1. 1.

    Thread garlic cloves on a metal skewer and roast directly over a gas flame until well charred on all surfaces, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, roast in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing, until charred on most surfaces, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl until cool enough to handle, then peel blackened skins and discard.

  2. 2.

    Roast habaneros in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing, until charred on most surfaces, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, pick out stems and discard. (See note; you may want to use gloves for this task.)

  3. 3.

    Combine peeled garlic, habaneros, and grapefruit, orange, and lime juice in a blender or molcajete. Blend or pound until a smooth but still pulpy consistency is reached. Be very careful when opening blender or pounding in molcajete to avoid getting liquid or vapors near your eyes and nose. (It will burn your eyes and make you cough/sneeze.)

  4. 4.

    Transfer salsa to a bowl, let rest for 15 minutes, then season to taste with salt. Salsa can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.