Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Salsa Connoisseur: Trader Jose's "Salsa Autentica"

Think back to the most authentic Mexican restaurant you've ever been to. The one with the least English on the menu, or the loudest telenovela blaring from the TVs at lunch time, or the most actual Mexicans eating there with their families. Remember the salsa that the kindly old woman brought out from the kitchen? Was it some gloppy concoction of beans and corn? Probably not. More likely, it was a simple mixture of tomato, chile, onion, and not much else.

Trader Joe's (or, rather, Trader Jose's) has tried to replicate that, and they've done a pretty darn good job. One thing that you notice immediately about the salsa is its down-to-earth packaging: clear cylindrical jar; yellow top; white, black, and red label. And it tastes good too.

Texture: very good overall. Consistency is smooth and fluid; chunks of tomato and vegetables are small to nonexistent. Thickness is slightly thicker than water. Pours well.

Heat: starts off unassuming and builds to a reasonable heat in a few seconds. Trader Jose describes this as a 5 on an 8-point heat scale, which might be a little much--I'd be more inclined to put it at 4. No argument that it's a solidly "medium" heat salsa.

Flavor: unassuming, tangy, slightly generic tomato sauce flavor at first. Heat and chile flavor builds soon and is the highlight of the taste. Subtle earthy or "harvest" aftertaste. This salsa has only five ingredients: tomatoes, chiles, vinegar, salt, and spices, and that works in its favor.

Available at Trader Joe's; $1.69 buys you a 12-oz bottle (14.1 cents per ounce), which is really pretty cheap.

Definitely recommended, especially for a simple, basic, and cheap salsa that's really tasty. Also good if you don't like a garlicky salsa or an overly onion-y salsa.

Currently listening: "Summersong", the Decemberists


Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...

TommyV's Salsa is 100 times better than Trader Jose's!