I don’t know what it is about the habanero pepper that makes it my favorite. But, whatever it is, I can’t resist it and this salsa is no exception. Yucatán-style tomato and habanero salsa is deceptively simple, but with a spiciness that is both irresistible and will have you crying for mercy. So, grab a glass of water (or milk), and let’s get cooking.
Choosing your habaneros
Habaneros come in a variety of colors ranging from a bright green all the way to an intense red-orange. So, how do you know which ones to choose?
Green habaneros are less mature and, in my experience, less spicy. As the peppers mature, they go from a green color to the orange-red color we are most accustomed to seeing. The orange and red colored peppers are not only spicier, but they take on a brighter flavor as well.
In most cases, I prefer the orange-red colored habaneros and this salsa is no exception. So, as you are looking for your peppers, look for habaneros that are an orange or orange-red color with shiny, smooth skins. Wrinkles indicate that the pepper is old, so you will want to avoid those.
Where the habanero is king
In the Yucatán Penninsula, habanero peppers are king. This little pepper is native to the Caribbean region, including coastal areas of South America and the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It is widely considered the hottest pepper used in Mexican cooking, but that may be debatable.
In Mexico, this pepper is used fresh and can be boiled, grilled, roasted, or eaten raw.
Habanero peppers are used in a variety of Yucatán-style salsas, including rajas (thinly sliced peppers and onions, pickled in vinegar or lime juice), pastes, and this smooth-textured salsa I am sharing with you today.
This salsa is excellent for accompanying Yucatán-style tamales, or dishes like cochinita en pibil, relleno negro, and pollo en escabeche (all recipes that I need to develop and share with you).
But, even if you aren’t having Yucatán-style food, you can use this salsa to top any kind of tacos or tostadas that need an extra kick! Try it with bistec encebollado, picadillo, or even on top of your scrambled eggs.
Note: This salsa is not for the faint-hearted. It is wicked-hot, lip-numbing, cry for your mama spicy, so use it with caution 🙂
How to make Yucatán-style tomato and habanero salsa
This salsa is easy and fast to make, so you can have this ready to go in no time! And with only 4 ingredients, you won’t be breaking the bank!
So, are you ready for easy?
Start by putting the ingredients for the salsa (except for the salt) in a small pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to boiling and then let simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Once the tomato skins start peeling, you know the ingredients are ready.
Drain the water and add the ingredients to a blender. Remove the stem from the pepper. Add salt to taste and blend until smooth.
The quantities listed below make about 1 cup of salsa, plenty to share since you will only need a few drops to enjoy this spiciness.
If you like wicked-hot salsa, this Yucatán-style tomato and habanero salsa will be your new favorite.
Inspired by: Edgar Vargas, Cuernavaca, Morelos
Yucatán-Style Tomato and Habanero Salsa
- 3 Roma tomatoes ~8 oz, or 240g
- 1 habanero pepper
- 1 inch square piece of white onion ~1 oz, 35g
- Salt to taste
- In a small sauce pot, place tomatoes, habanero, and onion. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes change color and the skins start to crack.
- Remove the vegetables from the water and place in a blender. Add salt to taste. Blend until smooth.