Back when I was still living in Singapore, I would eat most savory foods with chili. It didn’t really matter what kind of chili it was (sweet chili, garlic chili or fresh chili slices dipped in soy sauce); what mattered was that the food I ate was spicy and left me begging for more.
You see, I come from a family with relatives who are infamous for their love of spicy food, and it was only natural that I loved my spices too.
However, five years of living in Buenos Aires somehow managed to tame my fiery tastebuds, and in the porteño city where chimichurri is what Argentines consider spicy, I found myself having to live without spicy food, or at least spicy food the way I used to know it.
Whenever I would eat spicy foods on my visits back to Singapore in the last five years, I’d realize with each passing year that my tolerance level for spicy foods was pummelling downhill.
I’d feel my tongue burning when I’d eat a chili-coated dumpling, something that would never have even caused me to bat my eyelids before. Tears would spring to my eyes while I drank icy cold water in an effort to numb the spiciness of it all. I was shocked at how five years could drastically alter my ability to eat hot, spicy food.
After we re-located to Washington, DC, I realized that people in the US loved their spices too. I began re-conditioning my tastebuds, and finally, after three months, decided to buy a packet of jalapeños – those bright green chili peppers that Mexicans are famous for eating.
I loved those little peppers. Man, are they spicy as hell. So spicy they make my eyes water. But they’re just so good.
I ate them in tacos, simmered them in shrimp curry, fried them in omelets, and finally, when I confessed to my friend Marina that I didn’t know how else to use the five jalapeños I had left, she texted me quick and simple, “pico de gallo“.
I hadn’t tried pico de gallo before, and ending up googling it. Thank goodness for Wikipedia. Apparently pico de gallo is a common dip in Mexican cuisine that’s also known as salsa fresca.
Pico de gallo literally means “rooster’s beak” in Spanish, with the reason being that the peppers used in the recipe resemble the beak of a rooster.
Its main ingredients are tomatoes, onions, cilantro, spicy peppers, salt and lime juice, with variations made depending on the ingredients at hand. It’s simple and quick to make, and extremely fresh, hence its other name salsa fresca.
Since I love garlic, I threw a bit of minced garlic in with the rest of the ingredients, and also added a quick glug of olive oil. Toss it all together and you get a fresh and delightfully spicy dip that goes amazing with corn tortilla chips.
Ready to try it yet?? It’s so darn good.
P.S. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Get a cold glass of milk or other dairy product ready to numb the spiciness!
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 jalapeños, diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice from 1 large lime (about 2 tablespoons of lime juice)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Corn tortilla chips, to accompany dip
- Combine diced onions, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeños, chopped cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and salt.
- Mix well until ingredients are evenly distributed
- Serve pico de gallo with corn tortilla chips