“Chop, Chop!” – The 5 tastiest Pico de Gallo variations

pico de gallo1Mexico’s most famous salsa in any Mexican restaurant world-wide has to be ‘Pico de Gallo’. This fresh chopped Salsa contains diced Roma tomato, onion, serrano chili, cilantro, salt and lime juice. It’s a wonderful snack to serve with tortilla chips or a side-dish to spice up your meal.

Not everybody knows that Pico de Gallo is also known as ‘Salsa Mexicana’ in Mexico. The name doesn’t mean that the Salsa was made in Mexico. It actually refers to the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white and green!

Cinco de Mayo is the perfect occasion to create a Pico de Gallo. Instead of the traditional recipe the Dancing Chefs at Salsa and Salsa give you the 5 tastiest variations, so you can amaze your guests at the Salsa party!


Jicama Pico de Gallo 

pico de gallo jaliscoThe Dancing Chefs love to be experimental and healthy! The main ingredient is Jicama, a vegetable that is known for its refreshing taste.  The recipe comes from the state of Jalisco: the land of Tequila and mariachis. Enjoy!

½ kilo or 1 pound peeled jicama, cut in strips of 1×5 centimeters

2 peeled cucumbers, remove seeds, cut in strips of 1×5 centimeters

1 small cantaloupe melon cut in strips of 1×5 centimeters

¼ cup lime juice

2 fresh Serrano or jalapeño peppers, remove seeds and membranes, cut in very thin strips

½ tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder (optional)


Place all the ingredients, except the chili powder, in a bowl. Mix, taste and add salt if needed. To serve, place the Pico de Gallo in a flat dish and sprinkle the chili powder on top. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Habanero Pico de Gallo – ‘Xnipec’

xnipecThis fierce Pico de Gallo comes from the southern state of Yucatan and contains Habanero chili. This variety is not for the faint-hearted, but addictively tasty!

  • 2 big Roma tomatoes
  • Cilantro to taste
  • 1 chile habanero
  • ½ onion
  • Orange juice and vinegar
  • Sal to taste


Dice the tomatoes, onion and habanero chile finely. You might want to use gloves when cutting the habanero. Chop the cilantro and mix with the other ingredients. Add salt, orange juice and vinegar to taste. This salsa is used for grilled meat and fish.


Mango Pico de Gallo

pico de gallo mangoIf you like a sweet touch in your Pico de Gallo, try out this fruity version. It has mango, but you can use pine-apple too.

  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1-2 serrano chilis
  • 1 ripe Mango
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to tast

Dice all the ingredients in medium-sized pieces. Place together in a bowl and add the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before serving.


Nopal Pico de Gallo

nopal saladNopales are thick, oval, flat, modified stems of cactus plant, eaten as a vegetable. Its young tender pads known as ‘nopalitos’, are an important part of Mexican cuisine since ancient times. Their flavor is similar to French beans and nopales are a great addition to your meals.


  • 1 pound (500 gr) Nopal leaves, without spines
  • 2 big Roma tomatoes
  • Cilantro to taste
  • 1 chili Serrano
  • ½ onion
  • Lime juice
  • Sal to taste


Dice the nopal leaves in cubes. Place into a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until the nopal leaves change color. Drain and place in a serving bowl to cool down. In the meanwhile dice the tomatoes, onion and chili finely. Chop the cilantro and mix with the other ingredients. Add salt and lime juice to taste. You can sprinkle ‘queso fresco’ or feta cheese on top. This salad is a great side dish and has only 50 calories per serving.


Melon – Bell pepper Pico de Gallo

cinco de mayoThis last variety of Pico de Gallo can be considered a ‘Salsa Fresca’, incorporating fruits and veggies. You can serve this salsa as a side-dish with roasted chicken.

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1 cup diced melon (or mango)
  • Lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

Dice up the ingredients and place them together in a bowl.  If you want to make a milder salsa, make sure to remove the seeds of the serrano chili. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes before serving.




It’s Taco Time – How to prepare a ‘Taquiza’

Fact: in Mexico we love to eat and especially during parties. And there is always something to celebrate: a birthday, an anniversary, a baptism or first communion or just because it’s Sunday! If you have to feed a big group of people, you need to have a lot of food and the best option is to have a ‘taquiza’. A taquiza is basically a taco party, where you choose from a variety of taco fillings to put on your (hand-made) tortillas and add copious amounts of salsa. If this sounds like the kind of party you would like to attend, keep reading…….


The set-up


agua frescaHosting a ‘taquiza’ at your house is easy to do. You need to have rectangular table and cover with a colorful table cloth. You can use a fun Mexican pattern, but a bright-colored plastic table cloth works just as well. You can have the drinks on one side of the table in big pitchers, because with all those spicy salsas you’ll sure be thirsty. You could make lemonade, fruit water (e.g. water melon water) rice water (Horchata) or hibiscus tea (Jamaica) for the designated drivers and a tasty Michelada or Margarita for the lucky adults!


taquiza cazuelas


In the center of the table you can display the taco fillings in Mexican pottery or chafing dishes to keep it warm. Have a stack of plates and warm tortillas ready for each guest to serve their own tacos. At the far end of the table you can have the Salsa bar with a variety of salsas (Red, green, Pico de gallo, etc.) as well as diced fresh onion, cilantro, radishes, limes and salt to top off your tacos.




The taco filling


You can find Taquizas in all Mexico and the taco fillings changes per region. But the most common varieties are: Rajas con crema (for recipe: see Newsletter May 2014), Chicharron (pork rinds in sauce), Mole, Frijoles refritos (refried beans), Carne asada (diced grilled beef), Cochinita Pibil (Pork in Yucatecan sauce) and Tinga de Pollo (chicken in chipotle-tomato sauce). We love to have at least one taco of each flavor….. Que rico!


tinga de polloTinga de Pollo:


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, cut in thin slices
  • ½ pound Roma tomatoes
  • 1 small can of Chipotle chili (you can add less if you don’t like it hot)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 pound boiled chicken breast, shredded


Heat the oil in a big skillet and fry the onion until golden brown. In the meanwhile blend the tomatoes with the chipotle chili and the salt. Add this mixture to the onions. Add the shredded chicken as well and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.


tortillasThe Tortillas


There is some controversy about what a ‘Taco’ is. In Mexico there are no hard-shell tacos and Mexican people consider this an American invention. At a taquiza the tortillas that are used, are either corn tortillas or flour tortillas. In the north of Mexico we usually use flour tortillas and in the south of Mexico corn tortillas are more common. Tortillas are at their best when they’re just made, but you buy your tortillas at the store and heat them in a dry skillet or ‘comal’. Keep them warm in a kitchen towel.


The Fiesta


Fiesta Papel PicadoOnce you have prepared all the food and drinks, it’s time to get the Fiesta started. Tropical music (salsa, cumbia, and merengue) is always a great option, as well as some fun props like maracas, Mexican sombreros or Piñatas. Let your imaginations run free and don’t forget the occasional…. Olé!


5 de Mayo – Fun and Facts

I’ll bet you $5 bucks 5 De Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day!”
Hands down 5 de Mayo is my favorite holiday to celebrate in the USA! Why? Well, because it is a fun excuse to run around in a sombrero, drink delicious mexican imported beers and eat yummy guacamole and pico de gallo!

Once the date gets closer to the 5th of May or “5 de Mayo,” across the USA you will begin to hear about the “5 de Mayo” specials, the “5 de Mayo” celebrations and house parties beginning to form for the special holiday in the weeks ahead. All the grocery stores you walk into have the tortilla chips, salsa dips, mexican imported beer and margarita mix all ready on the store’s biggest displays. They arrange all the fun food items, beverage items and paraphernalia in a way that you could almost buy it as packaged deal. Any Mexican Restaurant you pass are generally decorated over the top, full of specials and “5 de Mayo” happy hours and loud music to attract any “5 de Mayo” fan.

The most shocking thing that I have found that some Americans confuse the “5 de Mayo” holiday for “Mexican Independence Day” or even worse “Mexican New Year.” I am lucky to have dual citizenship. This means I am both American and Mexican. So I try to keep up with history on both sides of the border. I love to make joking bets with friends while they sip on their Coronas and truly believe that we are celebrating “Mexican Independence Day.”

The 5th of May is not nearly celebrated in Mexico as in the USA. 5 de Mayo marks a day in the year 1862, when the Mexican Army won a battle in Puebla, Mexico against the French Army. General Ignacio de Zaragoza fortified the Cerro de Guadalupe against the French invaders, and on May 5th 1862, his 2000 men defeated a frontal attack by 6000, many handicapped by diarrhea. This rare Mexican military is the excuse for annual celebrations and hundreds of streets named 5 de Mayo. Few seem to remember that the following year the reinforced French took Puebla and occupied the city until 1867.  Touché! Nowadays on 5th of May, all Mexican men that registered for military service have to swear their loyalty to the national flag and the institutions that they represent. This year it will be 150 years since the Battle of Puebla and the city Puebla will host a unique festival with a re-enactment of the battle.

And for those of you who wonder: Mexican Independence Day is actually on September 16th.

5 de Mayo has become a holiday where Americans celebrate Mexican culture and just have fun. You can almost compare it to St. Patricks Day in the USA, which we claim we are celebrating the Irish. Like most holidays in the USA, it is a great excuse to gather with friends and family and have fun.

Happy 5 de Mayo !!!!

– Dancing Chef Melissa

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