Mexican chef 2
Mr. Torres with his granddaughter

At almost every Mexican restaurant in the world, guests are served a bowl of chips and salsa almost immediately after they are seated. The chips should be light with a minimum of grease and sprinkled with salt. At least that’s what I prefer. Unfortunately, many establishments simply serve a product purchased in a bag from the nearest market.

The same goes with the salsa. Do you really know if it was freshly prepared, or poured from a jar that was commercially processed with preservatives for a lengthy shelf life? Believe me, you can taste the difference, even our gringo amigos.

Ramon and Manuela Torres owned Panchitas Restaurant in the San Diego community of Mission Hills for 25 years. Their distinctive home cooking had a huge local following, and many patrons would wander into the kitchen to greet the humble proprietors before selecting a table. The feel was friendly and the food amazingly authentic.

The Torres team has long retired to a personal kitchen at their home in Bonita, California, but still prepare tamales and other specialties for posadas and special occasions. Always a hit is that unique salsa made from scratch, a secret revealed for Hispanic Horizon readers to savor.

Panchita’s famous salsa

12 oz can of whole tomatoes; 1 tablespoon of oregano; 8 whole jalapenos (canned); 5 pieces of whole garlic; 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Except tomatoes, place all ingredients in blender until smooth. Add tomatoes and pulse to desired consistency, but don’t over blend. Salsa is best when tomatoes are a bit chunky. Pour into bowl and top with diced onions and chopped cilantro. Mix well when ready to serve and prepare for plenty of compliments!



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