Jalapeño Serrano salsa found me a couple years ago when shooting the pilot for Cheap Eats. At a taqueria in Minneapolis, this creamy green salsa was served over Al Pastor tacos. It was powerfully spicy and instantly addicting; a salsa like no other I had never come across before.
Then I moved to Austin and the stuff was everywhere. Commonly referred to as Salsa Doña because it is a fixture at Austin’s Tacodeli, this green salsa is worth obsessing about. I know I have, which is why I started to make it at home. It’s fantastic on breakfast tacos, carnitas, al pastor and steak tacos.
You’re gonna want to make this salsa part of your taco night program. Trust me. This is what you will need.
What is the secret ingredient to this creamy green salsa? Oil. Cooked peppers are blended with oil and garlic till an emulsion forms. There are similar salsas that use sour cream and I think avocado and tomatillo makes for a tasty and comparable version, but if you want legit Jalapeño Serrano salsa, you gotta make it with oil. It should be neutral one like Canola, so consider grapeseed if you are of the non corn oil persuasion.
Jalapeño Serrano salsa is a cooked salsa. I like to boil the peppers because it’s quick and easy though some recipes advocate for roasting or blistering the peppers in a hot pan and putting them in a bowl covered in plastic wrap till they steam up.
I usually boil them for about 20 minutes until they are limp. That can take more time if the peppers are big which happens, especially with jalapeños.
I like to let the peppers rest and cool off a bit before removing the stem and placing them in the blender. Now I made a small batch so I keep all the seeds in. I think the point of Jalapeño Serrano salsa is that a serious kick of heat that gets paired with the creamy texture and flavor from the oil emulsion. If you are averse to spice, you could deseed but then what’s point of this salsa? Or life in general? Take the pain.
And don’t sleep on the garlic. That is real important too.
Since I was making a small batch and using an immersion blender, I poured the canola oil in batches. If you are making a larger batch you could drizzle the oil in a full size blender with the motor running. And then head out on the highway. And look for adventure. Ok, that’s enough classic rock reference.
And that’s what we are looking for folks. A smooth and creamy green emulsion. This stuff is magic. And make sure you salt to taste.
The Jalapeño Serrano salsa should keep a few days in the fridge if it even lasts that long. Now you change it up and go all Serrano(spicier), all jalapeño(milder) or get wild with habaneros like they do at one of my fav Austin taco joints: Pueblo Viejo. The world is your oyster, or should I say taco?
This is liquid green gold. Which doesn’t sound that appetizing. But it sure is good on tacos.