Salsa is a variety of sauces used as condiments for tacos and other Mexican and Mexican-American foods, and as dips for tortilla chips. They may be raw or cooked, and are generally served at room temperature.
Though the word salsa means any kind of sauce in Spanish, in English, it refers specifically to these Mexican table sauces, especially to the chunky tomato-and-chili-based pico de gallo, as well as to salsa verde.
Tortilla chips with salsa are a ubiquitous appetizer in Mexican-American restaurants, but not in Mexico itself.
Salsa is a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, served as a condiment with tacos, stirred into soups and stews, or incorporated into tamale fillings. Salsa fresca is fresh salsa made with tomatoes and hot peppers. Salsa verde is made with cooked tomatillos and is served as a dip or sauce for chilaquiles, enchiladas, and other dishes. Chiltomate is a widely used base sauce made of tomatoes and chiles. The type of pepper used for chiltomate varies by region, with fresh green chiles being more common than habanero in Chiapas. Tamales are often identified according to the type of salsa they are filled with, either salsa verde, salsa roja, salsa de rajas, or salsa de mole.
Mexican salsas were traditionally produced using the mortar and pestle–like molcajete, although blenders are now used. Mexican salsas include:
- Salsa roja, one of the two most common and well known types of salsa, "red sauce", is used as a condiment in Mexican and Southwestern (U.S.) cuisines; usually includes cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro (coriander).
- Salsa cruda, "raw sauce", is an uncooked mixture of chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeño chilies, and cilantro.