Santa Maria Style Salsa

Santa Maria Style Salsa

Santa Maria-style barbecue is a regional culinary tradition rooted in the Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast of California. This method of barbecuing dates back to the mid-19th century and is today regarded as a "mainstay of California’s culinary heritage". Santa Maria-style barbecue centers on beef tri-tip, seasoned with black pepper, salt, and garlic before grilling over coals of native coast live oak, often referred to as “red oak” wood1. The grill is made of iron and usually has a hand crank to adjust the height of the grill over the coals1. This style of barbecue is perfect for barbequed tri-tip, resulting in a tender and juicy cut of meat with a smoky, hearty flavor.

Salsa is the perfect accompaniment to barbequed tri-tip because it adds a burst of flavor to the meat. The tangy and spicy flavors of the salsa complement the smoky and hearty flavor of the barbequed tri-tip, creating a delicious combination. For example, Santa Maria Salsa, which originated in Santa Maria, California, is made with diced tomatoes, celery, scallions, Anaheim peppers, cilantro, lime juice, white vinegar, oregano and basil, hot sauce, garlic salt, freshly ground black pepper. This salsa is a little different from the Tex-Mex style salsa but complements the steak perfectly. The bright and fresh flavors of the salsa pair well with the beefy cut of meat.

Santa Maria Style Salsa is a delicious and tangy salsa that is the perfect accompaniment to Santa Maria-style barbecued tri-tip. Here’s a recipe from Serious Eats that you can try at home1:

• 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced (about 2 1/2 cups total)
• 1 stalk celery, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
• 4 scallions, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 fresh California green chile (Poblano or Hatch can be substituted), diced (about 1/2 cup)
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• Kosher salt

1. Combine tomatoes, celery, scallions, chili, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, and Worcestershire in a medium bowl and toss.
2. Season to taste with salt.
3. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
4. Serve. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

This salsa is easy to make and packed with flavor. It’s the perfect addition to any barbecue or summer meal. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Here are some ways to spice up your salsa:

There are several ways to make salsa spicier. Here are some suggestions from PepperScale2 and Seasonal Cookbook3:

Add raw chili peppers: Choose the chili pepper that will deliver your preferred heat level and flavor. For example, jalapeño peppers will give you a mild heat with a bright, grassy flavor. If you want to step up the heat level a little beyond the jalapeño, try serranos (comparably bright and grassy in flavor). You can take it even further with habaneros, which are a good option when you want a truly fiery salsa. In addition, habaneros have a fruity flavor that works well with sweeter salsas.
Add pickled chili peppers: Jarred, pickled chili peppers bring heat along with the vinegary acidity of their brine. Add pickled peppers to salsas like salsa cruda and salsa roja or any other salsa that will benefit from additional acidity and the increase in heat.
Add roasted chili peppers: Salsa ranchera is a type of salsa made with roasted ingredients. The roasting gives it a smoky, charred flavor profile that some liken to the taste of black pepper. Adding roasted hot chilies can add some heat, without diluting the smoky notes.
Add hot sauce: This is pretty much a no-brainer that requires you to buy your favorite hot sauce and add it to your mild salsa (to taste).
• Add diced raw onions (or even onion powder): This method allows you to make your salsa hotter without going over-the-top spicy. Again, adding diced raw onions will add some texture2.
Add crushed red pepper flakes: Crushed red pepper flakes like these are one of my favorite toppings for everything from pizza to my favorite keto scrambled eggs recipe to french fries.
Mix chopped raw chili peppers into mild salsa: Depending on the type of chili peppers you choose to include this could take salsa from mild to blazing hot and anywhere in between. This is one of the most effective ways to add some real heat.
Sprinkle in cayenne pepper: Much like the onion power mentioned above, adding a few pinches of culinary ground cayenne pepper can increase the spiciness of your salsa.
Add a few drops of habanero sauce: Just remember this sauce can be face-meltingly hot, so be very careful about how much you add to your salsa. But a good habanero sauce like the one I use will kick the spiciness of your salsa up a few notches.
Mix in one tablespoon of minced garlic: This is about as easy as it gets. If you have or buy a small jar of minced garlic, simply take a tablespoon of minced garlic, add to your salsa, and mix it in. This adds a nice flavor without adding too much heat.
Drop in seeds from dried chili peppers: Adding the seeds from dried chili peppers is a great way to spice up many different dishes and it is one of the most effective ways to make mild salsa spicier.

I hope these suggestions help you make your salsa as spicy as you like!

Some other ideas for salsa for your BBQ:

There are many different types of salsa, each with its own unique flavor and ingredients. Some popular types of salsa include:
Salsa Verde: A green, tomatillo-based salsa. Traditional recipes typically call for roasting or simmering tomatillos, serrano or jalapeño chiles, onion, and garlic until softened, then blending it all with fresh cilantro.
Salsa Taquera: Translating to “taco shop sauce,” salsa taquera invariably begins with a fresh tomato base. Chiles, traditionally chiles de árbol, get blended with tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salt.
Salsa Roja: Salsa roja, or red salsa, is very similar to salsa taquera but uses only fresh chiles.
Pico de Gallo: A type of salsa made with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapenos.
Mango Salsa: A sweet and savory salsa made with mangoes and other ingredients such as red onion, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro.

These are just a few examples of the many different types of salsa that exist. Each type has its own unique flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Crank it up!


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