These Authentic Mexican Sauces will take your meal from good to extraordinary. Kick up your chips, tacos, burritos and enchiladas!
- How to Serve Mexican Sauces
- Are Red Chiles or Green Chiles More Spicy?
- Are Mexican Sauces Very Spicy?
- Salsa Roja “Red Sauce” Recipes
- Salsa Verde “Green Sauce” Recipes
How to Serve Mexican Sauces
In the United States, there are a lot of chunky sauces that are served with tortilla chips. Salsa is actually the Spanish word for sauce. The biggest difference I’ve seen is that, when serving sauces at the table in Mexico, there are a lot of thinner sauces.
Actually, a lot of the food served in restaurants in Mexico aren’t extremely spicy hot. It’s the sauces served at the table that determine whether your food is spicy or not.
Always try the sauces before you start pouring them on your food. You could be in for a surprise!
Are Red Chiles or Green Chiles More Spicy?
I’m going to have to say that red chiles are more spicy than green chiles. To me, the smaller the chile pepper, the more spicy it is. Some of them are pure fire! Arbol and Piquin, I’m looking at you.
The yellow and orange ones, though. I’m not ready for them at all. You can review my Scoville Heat Scale to see some examples.
Salsa Roja (“red sauce”) is usually made with dried red chiles. You use hot water to reconstitute them before blending them in a molcajete or an electric blender. You can either reconstitute them straight or toast them a little first.
You can add garlic, onion, cilantro and even tomatillo for flavor. Use caution in adding onion since it will turn your sauce orange if you add too much.
Nothing wrong with that! But, if you want to keep the deep red color, you could even use onion powder instead.
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Salsa Verde (“green sauce”) is usually more fresh and bright compared to salsa roja. It’s made from green chiles, tomatillos, onion, garlic and cilantro.
You can either roast the chile peppers or saute them in a little oil. I’ve even boiled them in water. Your decision is based on the taste you want or could mean simply that you don’t want to turn on the oven in the summer.
If you roast the chiles, you blacken the thin peel so it can be removed easily. I’ve learned that you need to use high heat so the chiles char on the outside but don’t turn to mush on the inside.
Are Mexican Sauces Spicy?
Authentic Mexican Sauces are as spicy as you want to make them. You can use the chile peppers you love at the level of spicy that you want.
When making red chile sauce (“salsa roja”), use more California chiles for less spicy sauce. Use more Chiles de Arbol, Piquin or Cascabel for more spicy.
When making green chile sauce (“salsa verde”), use more Poblano or Anaheim. You could even replace some with green Bell Peppers, if necessary. For more spicy, use more serrano.
I usually serve a fresh Pico de Gallo on the side. You can also add it directly to your tacos.
If you want something like a Pico de Gallo but still cooked, try this Chili’s Salsa Copycat.
Salsa Roja (“Red Sauce”) Recipes
These sauces can be served with tacos. Just drizzle it on at the table. If you have a lot, smothered burritos are great. Some are also used to make the filling for tamales or to braise meat for Chicken Birria Tacos, Chile Colorado or Chicken Tinga.
Dipping with chips or fresh tortillas is a great way to taste test the sauce to make sure it’s your level of spicy.
Although it’s more authentic to make your red enchilada sauce with dried chiles, you can also try this recipe. It’s made from ground dried chiles and takes only 10 minutes!
Salsa Verde (“Green Sauce”) Recipes
As with the red sauces, you can use the green with any of the same dishes. Try them with chips as well. You don’t need to use only red sauces for dipping.
Although this is a recipe for Chile Lime Shrimp, the Avocado Cream is delicious and could be used on the side for many other recipes.
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