I had never heard of Pico de gallo before coming to Texas, and when I was first asked if I wanted some on my taco, I had no idea what the lady said, let alone what it was. Basically it is a very simple, fresh chunky salsa also known as Salsa Mexicana or Salsa Fresca. The most basic form is made from chopped tomatoes, onion, jalapeño and lime juice. Though I love my own salsa as a dip for tortilla chips, pico de gallo is better with, or in food such as tacos or fajitas.
Depending on where you go in Mexico or the Southern US, you’ll find many variations of pico de gallo and additions such as different types of onion, chillies, cilantro, avocado, radish or fruit such as mango, melon or oranges.
The Spanish name Pico de gallo, for this ‘chopped’ sauce, or salsa is quite strange and literately means ‘beak of the rooster’. There isn’t a definitive answer to why it has this name, but one theory is that it used to be eaten with the thumb and forefinger, which looked like a pecking rooster. Another more likely explanation is it comes from the Spanish word ‘picar’ meaning to ‘chop’.
- 1 large ripe tomato, de-seeded
- half a jalapeño, de-seeded
- half an small onion
- 1 small handful of cilantro (fresh coriander)
- juice from half a lime
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chop all the ingredients into small pieces. Mix together with the lime juice. Season to taste, cover and leave to sit to develop the flavours for a few hours. Serve as an accompaniment with Mexican food such as tacos, fajitas or just as a normal salsa with tortilla chips.
Since there are very few ingredients to pico de gallo, and the fact that there is no cooking involved, it is very important to find the ripest, freshest and tastiest ingredients, especially the tomatoes, which are probably best home-grown if you can get them, which puts a different twist on Bill’s problem with pecking birds.