Southeast Asian cooks know as well as Mexican cooks do how much flavor you can get from grilling vegetables before using them in salsas. Here whole tomatoes and green cayenne chiles are put on the grill (or into a heavy skillet on the stovetop) to get a little blackened and softened, then are processed to a salsa that has a touch of sweetness from the roasted shallots.

If you have Romas or other fleshy tomatoes, use them; if your tomatoes are juicier, the sauce will be a little runnier. I find myself spooning up the runnier version like a cold soup sometimes.

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Ingredients

  • 5 green cayenne chiles
  • 3 medium tomatoes, preferably Roma (plum) or another fleshy variety
  • 4 shallots, not peeled
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Shrimp Powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Method

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill until hot, or heat a cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Grill the chiles, tomatoes, and shallots on the hot grill or in the hot skillet, turning to expose all sides to the heat, until touched with black and very soft.

Peel off and discard any black areas or tough skin from the chiles and tomatoes. Cut off and discard the chile stems. Trim off the root ends of the shallots and remove the skins. Coarsely chop the chiles and shallots.

Place the chiles, tomatoes, and shallots in a food processor, add the shrimp powder and salt, and pulse several times until the mixture is reduced to a chunky sauce. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers will keep, refrigerated, for 3 days.

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