Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Corn Salsa

One of my favorite summer treats (which I can eat as an entire meal) is my fresh corn salsa. On hot days I don't have much of an appetite, so it's nice to just eat some cool vegetable packed salsa. I've made it the past few summers when I'm home, and my dad now requests that I make it whenever I visit. Unfortunately, last year I made it right in the midst of the tomato/jalapeno/cilantro contamination and ended up with salmonila, which was awful. But it's still one of my favorite foods, cool and refreshing, yet flavorful and interesting. The recipe I've been making was inspired by random varieties I've found at markets, one a teammate on the swim team made, and a recipe a friend sent me a few years ago. I've been working on perfecting it for some time now. Since it's Cinco de Mayo, we are having a Mexican feast for dinner, so it's only fitting to make salsa today (one of the first things my dad said when I got off the plane was that he wanted fresh salsa), and I made a double batch since I would be home, likely eating it for every meal for the next few days. This time I made it a little different, the onions were way too strong to put in fresh salsa, and it was a little bland without onion, so I added a few shakes of cumin and it was as tasty as always. It's definitely customizable (some use avacadoes, vidialia onions, green onions, garlic, or red bell peppers, plus there's probably other varities I haven't considered, also, as I mentioned you can add cumin, red pepper or chili powder), but this is the blend I like:

One can (or half a bag frozen and defrosted) corn
One can black beans rinsed and drained
One large tomato, diced
One jalapeno, minced
One green bell pepper, diced
1/2 to 1 red onion, diced
Cilantro, to taste (which for me means probably around a quarter of a cup, and I always wish there was more), finely chopped
dash salt
juice of 1/2 lime (make sure it's a nice, heavy juicy one)

Combine first seven ingredients. It's important to make sure you cut everything small enough for it to distribute evenly, this is especially important for the onion, jalapeno, and cilantro, but it's easy to cut the the green pepper too big too. Add lime juice and mix thoroughly. Add salt as needed (I like to just dip a few salty chips in to test it, and usually need very little additional salt).

Also, I should probably tell you to wear gloves when you chop the jalapeno, like all responsible recipe-givers would, but I don't. I've made it enough that I'm pretty much tolerant of the capsaicin in the peppers. The heat of peppers is similar to heat in temperature, as it can physically burn you, which is why when something tastes spicy, we say it tastes hot. It's the same reaction. However, unlike the heat in the temperature sense, we can build tolerance to the heat from spicy foods (capsaicin being chemical that makes things spicy) by gradually building up the spicy food you eat. This doesn't mean that they won't be spicy, and you do have to push to a little bit of a burn (just like exercising) for it to do anything, but it makes it easier to tolerate.

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