For those of you that don’t know Spanish, Pico de Gallo literally means “rooster’s beak.” It doesn’t sound very appetizing, but “pico” is the quintessential topping for everything Mexican. It is not a garnish, mind you, but actually a part of a dish to enhance flavor and provide color. In fact, the typical three main ingredients are the same colors used in the Mexican flag.
Typically, pico is made with just three ingredients, so here they are:
- tomato (pick firm, but ripe ones)
- onion (white is fine)
- fresh lime juice
- salt & pepper to taste
Okay, I said three but I listed five. Let me explain. The tomato and onion should be finely chopped and the cilantro should be minced. In general, tomato should make up the bulk of the mix. Add enough onion to provide flavor but not overpower the taste, and cilantro should be added to taste. Personally, I like a lot. For every cup of tomato you should try about 1/4 cup of onion and about 1/2 cup of cilantro. The juice from 1/2 a key lime should suffice and season with salt and pepper. The lime adds a little citrus tang and the salt and pepper really make all the flavors stand out, especially the tomato. Use immediately (Just one day in the fridge will make the tomatoes soggy and the cilantro wilted, and the onion will overpower the flavor).
Pico can be used as a chip dip or to top your tacos. You can dump it over your grilled chicken or add it to your fish. Really, it is quite flexible. Don’t be afraid to experiment here, either. How about a different combination? Like:
- Orange juice
This goes great with pork, or even fried fish tacos. Have fun with it. What are some combinations you have tried?