Pico de Gallo is a fresh, easy to put together salsa that is excellent for topping all sorts of tasty dishes, like enfrijoladas, tacos, and tostadas. It is also a seriously addictive dip for corn chips! The version I am sharing uses just 5 ingredients: tomatoes, onions, serrano peppers, lime juice, and salt.
What is Pico de Gallo?
Pico de gallo is a fresh, hand-chopped garnish, typically referred to as a salsa in Mexico. It is chunky, fresh-flavored, and uncooked which makes it a perfect side dish or garnish to make this summer, when cooking anything makes you feel like melting. I have also seen Pico de Gallo referred to as salsa Mexicana (Mexican sauce) or salsa fresca (fresh salsa). One could argue that this is more of a salad or garnish since the final product doesn’t have a smooth, liquid consistency like most salsas. However you classify it, Pico de Gallo is a super versatile condiment that can be used to top everything from tostadas, enfrijoladas, tacos, burritos, eggs…the possibilities are endless!
What does Pico de Gallo mean?
Pico de gallo (pronounced like: peek-o-day-guy-yo) literally translates to rooster’s beak in English. Why it is called that is a bit of a mystery. One version is that the serrano chile typically used in this dish is shaped like a rooster’s beak, hence the name. Other versions elude to the fact that the ingredients are finely chopped like chicken-feed, small enough for a rooster’s beak. And others have indicated that the spiciness of the salsa pricks your tongue like a rooster’s beak. Whatever the origin of the name, this salsa is definitely worth making!
How to make Pico de Gallo
Here are my top tips on making this salsa:
- Use fresh, ripe tomatoes with the seeds removed. You don’t want any sad, flavorless, unripened tomatoes here. I like to remove the seeds from the tomatoes prior to dicing. This helps to keep the salsa from becoming overly watery.
- Dice the ingredients into small, equal sizes. I like to taste all of the elements in this salsa in each and every bite. To ensure that this happens, finely chop the ingredients so that the tomato, onion, and chile are all the same size.
- Let the salsa rest for a few minutes (~20 minutes) before serving so that the flavors have time to blend. While this takes a bit of extra time, I find the salsa more flavorful after the ingredients have had time to meld together. I recommend enjoying this the same day it is prepared. I have been able to store this in the fridge, covered for a couple of days, but I find the texture of the tomatoes to be significantly less firm, resulting in a softer bite.
This particular version does not include any cilantro. That was not an oversight but is simply the way that I typically make this salsa. If you love cilantro, include it! Many cooks include cilantro in this recipe. If you want to increase the heat factor, add more chiles! Heat sensitive? Try substituting a green pepper for the serrano pepper. This will remove any spiciness but keep the salsa true to its original red, white, and green colors of the Mexican flag. Enjoy!
Pico de Gallo
- 4 roma tomatoes seeded and finely diced (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 large white onion finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced
- 4 tbsp lime juice juice from 2 limes
- salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly
- To help the flavors blend, allow the salsa to rest for 20 minutes before serving