Smokey, spicy, and slightly sweet, chile morita salsa is flavorful and totally addicting. Made with a simple ingredient list of chile morita, garlic, onion, salt, water, and honey, this salsa will be your next favorite condiment for carne asadas, quesadillas, eggs, tacos, and just about everything!
What is chile morita?
Chile morita is a small variety of a jalapeño pepper that is dried and smoked. A smaller version of the chile mora, the morita measures about 1.5 inches in length and about 1 inch wide on average. The skin has a deep reddish color, is shiny, and slightly wrinkled. This chile is used primarily in Veracruz, Puebla, Mexico City, and the surrounding areas.
How this salsa came to be
My normal go-to dried chile salsa for carne asadas is made with chile pasilla. Chile pasilla is mild and slightly sweet so it tends to be a salsa that everyone can enjoy, even those folks who can’t handle spicy food. But the last time we had a get-together, my husband’s good friend was in charge of bringing the salsa. His wife, Laura, made 2 varieties, one with jalapeños and the other with chile morita.
Usually, the meat is the star at the carne asadas, but her chile morita salsa stole the spotlight, hands down. As my husband made contented “mmmmmmm” noises in between bites of his taco, I decided to ask for the recipe.
How to make chile morita salsa
Chile morita salsa is easy to make. The technique is similar to that used in my chile pasilla salsa, but with an extra step of soaking the chiles after frying. Here are my top tips for making this salsa.
Don’t overcook the peppers
My number one tip for this salsa, or any salsa using dried chiles, is to make sure that you don’t overcook the peppers! If you overcook the pepper, the salsa will take on a bitter taste. I highly recommend that you work with only 2-3 peppers at a time in the hot oil. You want the oil to sizzle slightly when you add the pepper. I use a spatula to push the pepper down into the oil for a few seconds and then flip to the other side and push down again. The pepper will start to puff and inflate. Remove the pepper after a few seconds in the oil. These chiles were in the hot oil for about a total of only 15 seconds. If you accidentally overcook a chile, don’t worry. Just discard, select another one, and try again!
Soak the chiles after frying
I asked Laura why she soaked the chiles after frying them and she said that it helped to make the chiles less stiff and the salsa easier to blend. This isn’t a step that I normally incorporate after frying the chiles for salsa, but I followed her instructions to more accurately capture the flavor and consistency of her original salsa.
Use “fresh” dried chiles
So, what do I mean when I say use a fresh, dried chile? You might be scratching your head a bit with this tip, so hear me out. The texture of dried chiles will change over time. The fresher the dried chile, the more pliable the texture and less brittle. The consistency should almost feel like a raisin, as in dehydrated, but not brittle. If possible, look for dried chiles that are dehydrated, but still soft and pliable. These chiles are fresher and will make a better overall salsa.
This salsa is super spicy and totally addicting! We found ourselves putting this on top of meat, eggs, quesadillas, tacos, beans, and just about everything! I hope you enjoy this salsa as much as we do!
Source: Laura Ramírez Jaime, Morelos Mexico
Chile Morita Salsa
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil I use safflower
- 2 oz chile morita (~50g or 1.5 cups in volume)
- Water for soaking chiles
- 1/4 medium white onion (~50g or 2 oz, cut into large chunks)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 heaping tsp honey
- Salt to taste
- Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat, until shimmering (2-3 minutes)
- Working in batches, fry chiles for about 15 seconds total, flipping after about 10 seconds so that both sides are fried. The chiles should lighten in color and inflate. Don't allow the chiles to fry for too long or they will darken and turn bitter-tasting.
- Soak chiles in a bowl of water for about 5 minutes, until they just begin to soften.
- Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in batches, turning occassionally, until the skin just begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes for the onion and 1-2 minutes for the garlic.
- Add chiles, onion, and garlic to a blender. Add a bit of the water used to soak the chiles and begin blending. You will want to blend until the ingredients are smooth, adding water as necessary to loosen the sauce to your desired consistency.
- Add honey and salt to taste and blend again until the ingredients are incorporated.
- Taste and adjust for salt if necessary.