Raw Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde Cruda)

By Lesley Téllez | October 02, 2015
Green salsas run the gamut on Mexico City streets. They can be boiled, pea green and soupy; they can be charred and thick and flecked with blackened bits of tomatillo. They can also be astonishingly hot, which is why it’s always good to ask the street vendor, “Cuál salsa pica más?” (Which salsa is hotter?) This is my favorite version of all: a raw, acidic, chunky puree that slices through anything fatty; I like to serve it with Slow-cooked Pork, Crispy Carrot Tacos, Tlacoyos, Mexican-style Eggs, and almost anything else.


Makes about 2 cups 

9 fresh árbol chiles, or  4 to 5 serrano chiles 
1 large garlic clove, peeled 
10 ounces tomatillos, husked and  rinsed 
2 tablespoons cold water 
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons diced onion 
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, or more to taste 
juice of ½ large lime, optional 
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste 
½ medium Hass avocado, diced, optional 

1. Chop the chiles and garlic roughly, and place in a blender jar. Blitz until mostly chopped. 
2. Cut the tomatillos in half and add to the blender jar with the water. Liquefy until the  salsa transforms into a thick, chunky sauce. 
3. Pour into a bowl and stir in the onion and cilantro. Taste and see if you like it as is, or if you’d prefer more acidity or salt. If so, add the lime juice and taste again. Then stir in the salt and taste one more time, adding more salt, if necessary. Top with the avocado, if using, just before serving. 
4. Salsa (minus the avocado) keeps for about a week in a sealed container in the fridge. 
Variation: To make another version of green salsa that’s typical of street stands, blend the avocado with the onion and cilantro. Then taste for lime juice and salt, and blend again. 

Cooking tip: As with every salsa in Mexico, it’s really the cook’s touch that gives it personality. Feel free to add more water if you want it thinner, and—even though some Mexicans probably wouldn’t agree—you can even omit the salt, which creates a brighter, sweeter salsa that’s almost like a relish. If you own a powerful blender, no need to chop anything first. Just  toss it in the blender jar whole. 

Excerpted from Eat Mexico by Lesley Téllez. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Penny De Los Santos.

  • Raw Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde Cruda)