Like many Mexican salsas (or sauces), this one is tomato based, with cooked-down Roma tomatoes that are available year round. For a deep and intense heat, we use dried arbol peppers and added an onion and garlic grilled in a dry skillet. The reduced tomato and toasted ingredients are then run through a blender with a few dried figs to cut some of the heat while maintaining the robust flavor. Liquid can be incorporated to create the desired consistency. This recipe is a modification of a Guatemalan salsa that was made for years by a friend of my friend. Check out our Hot and Easy Salsa Chicken that uses it in a skillet dish with fresh Pasilla peppers.
Rinse and cook down whole Roma tomatoes on low to med-low heat in a dry skillet, turning periodically, until the outside of the skins begin to blister.
This will take about 45 minutes. Slice the tomatoes around the middle and put cut sides down on the skillet, with a pinch of salt, and continue cooking out the moisture for about a half hour. If it gets too dry within the cooking time, add a bit of water.
While the tomatoes cook down, slice the onion into lengths and add them to a dry skillet along with several cloves of peeled garlic. After the onions and garlic are almost cooked, cut off the stems of the arbol peppers and remove the seeds from half of them (carefully shaking them out– I wear gloves to protect my hands from burning; keep your fingers away from your eyes until you have washed your hands thoroughly after touching the pepper seeds). Add the dry arbol peppers and toast for a few more minutes until they begin to darken in spots. Remove from heat and place in a blender with the reduced tomatoes.
Stem and quarter 8-10 small-medium figs (I used Trader Joe’s), and add them to the blender. Incorporate all the ingredients, adding water as necessary to reach the desired consistency. Salt to taste. If the salsa is still too hot add a few more figs. Next batch you may chose to remove seeds from all or most of the peppers if it is still too hot.