Of all the dried chiles in the Mexican arsenal morita chiles may be my favorite. I know that’s a bold statement considering there are over 200 varieties of chiles at last count and that was an educated guess. Every village has its local chile and I most certainly haven’t tasted them all.
But the dried morita chile pepper has a complexity and depth of flavor that speaks to my heart and, in my opinion, is irresistible. (If you are interested in this kind of stuff Diana Kennedy wrote a great article about the most popular dried chiles for Food & Wine that is worth checking out.)
Morita chiles are like the Cinderella to chipotle chiles’ step sister. They too are smoked, ripened jalapeños but are usually made from the last of the vine, very ripened runts so therefore, are smoked less to prevent them from disintegrating. The result is a dried chile that keeps a bit more of it’s original jalapeño character and less of a smoke bomb. Chipotles get all the love but moritas are the real beauty.
They also make a killer salsa.
They are pretty tough so need a bit of soaking in boiling water. If you like your salsa smoking hot leave the seeds in, otherwise remove the stem and seeds while they’re still dry.
While the chiles take their bath you can put the garlic and tomatoes under the broiler to get lightly charred. This time of year cherry tomatoes tend to have more flavor, but in the summer use a ripe, juicy garden tomato instead.
Everything goes in the blender. Make sure you save the soaking liquid from the chiles to thin out the salsa if it is too thick.
Then as the Brits would say, “Whizz it up!”
- 8 dried morita chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Place chiles in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over the chiles to cover. Let soak at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.
- Meanwhile, heat broiler to high. Place tomatoes and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and broil until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Turn the garlic occasionally so it browns on all sides. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Remove garlic from the skins and place in a blender. Add tomatoes, and salt then lift the chiles from the water (reserving water) and place in the blender.
- Blend on high until smooth, adding some of the chile water if it is too thick. Taste and add more salt as needed.
One More Thing
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