As many of you know, I had an accident recently and damaged my left side arm, neck and shoulder, which explains why I had been so quiet lately. I did a lot of cooking and took tons of photos over Christmas and New Year, but after my fall down the stairs, typing was very, very sore... still is, so short post for a while.
Here's one of my VERY HOT and tasty home-made salsas. I made this to accompany the pozole I made for New Years Eve. It's quite hot, but if you like spicy, this baby is for you. It also works really well as part of a marinade for pork, I'll add a note at the end on this. Arbol Chilies (tree chilies) are also known as 'bird's beak chilies' or 'rat's tail chilies' and they are very similar to what you basically know as chili flakes, but they are whole. I don't recommend substituting the whole dried Arbol chilies for chili flakes as the smell while you toast them is going to really kill you, besides flavour won't be the same. This is one of those salsas that are very quick and easy to make, but it is not for the faint hearted as it is quite hot and since it's made of practically nothing but chilies, there's very little room to tame out the heat; if you use less chilies, you'll have less salsa!
Take the stems out of the dried chilies. Make sure you don't loose all the seeds as they give a nice flavour to the salsa. You may want to use gloves for this task; I don't normally use them, but I make sure to wash my hands well immediately after finishing this task.
Heat the oil in a pan at medium heat, add the chilies and garlic and lower the heat to a minimum. Toss the chilies & garlic a few times while they're cooking to prevent them from burning. If they do, the salsa will taste very bitter so watch out. Cook them till they are fully toasted and the garlic has soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. You can tell when the chilies are well toasted because they go slightly darker in colour, a duller red.
Transfer the chilies, garlic and every drop of the oil to a blender. Add the cider vinegar and salt. Blend till it's all smooth. You can add a few droops of boiling water to aid the blending process if you want, but make sure you don't add too much liquid and end up with a runny salsa; it should be of a smooth but heavy consistency, nearly like pouring good quality oil.
Serve slightly hot or at room temperature. This salsa keeps well in the fridge. Store it in a seal container in the fridge, but make sure to bring it to room temperature to eat it, it tastes nicer than way. The salsa really works as a base for a pork marinade if you add 2 extra garlic cloves and the juice of two limes. Marinade pork ribs on this for a super hot rib fest!