Friday, October 18, 2013

Tlah Bi'ik

This is a very spicy salsa that is on most Maya tables every day of the week in Mexico's Yucatan region.  So spicy, in fact, that the English title of the recipe is "Fiery Red Chile Salsa."  It utilizes a special type of dried serrano, native to the area.  If you can't find these, and they are hard to come by state-side, regular dried serranos or even de Arbol chiles will suffice.  For a smokey variation,  use Chipotles.  One extra note from me, if not using the Serranos de Yucatecos, and a little lemon juice, as those chile, though quite hot, also have a little tang to them.  The original also uses sour orange juice, but unless you grow your own, or know someone who has a tree, substitutions in the recipe are perfectly acceptable.  This come from another coffee table book written by Daniel Hoyer entitled Mayan Cuisine:  Recipe From The Yucatan Region.  Good book!  As he points out, you can also make a green version of this using several hot green chiles (like serranos or jalapenos) that have been charred, this is called Yax in the Yucatec langauge.  He also points out that this is sometimes pureed.

Tlah Bi'ik
(Fiery Red Chile Salsa)

8 to 12 Serrano seco de Yucatan (or any small red chile or pure ground red chile, such as Caribe or cayenne)

1 medium white onion, quartered and pan roasted

3 cloves garlic, pan-toasted and then peeled

1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil or lard

2 tbsp. sour orange juice, or 2 tbsp. orange juice + 1 tbsp. mild vinegar or 3 tbsp. lime juice

Salt to taste

1.  Finely mash the chiles in a molcajete (native volcanic rock mortar) or grind them in a spice grinder or blender.

2.  Peel the onion and finely dice.

3.  Minced the peeled garlic.

4.  Place the oil or lard in a saute pan and heat, add the onion a saute for a minute or two.  Add the garlic and the chiles and cook for 2 minutes more.  Mix in the juice (if you adding lemon, add this at this time as well).  Salt to taste.

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