Salsa Roja Básica

Rustic Oaxacan Tomato Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    5 cups

Appears in

Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico


By Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral

Published 2019

  • About

This salsa is very versatile and is the basis for a lot of recipes that my mom has made for me throughout my life. There are many variations of dishes that you can make with it. But after living in Los Angeles for so long and loving Italian food as much as I do, I can’t help but compare it to marinara sauce. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend having it with spaghetti but do pour it over your fried eggs, braise it with chicharrón, or stir it with fried tortillas for breakfast. My favorite entomatadas in Oaxaca are from a tiny place called Fonda Florecita because the heat is just right, which for me means spicy enough to make you realize they’ve got some chiles in them, but also not spicy enough to prevent you from eating a big pile of them in just a few minutes. Like with any other chile-based salsa, feel free to add or decrease the chile count. It’s all good. This salsa is served hot.


  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ cup (50 g) chopped white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 serrano chiles, stems removed
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


In a medium pot over medium heat, combine ½ cup (120 ml) of water, the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chiles, and salt to taste. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Transfer the cooked tomato mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

In a skillet over medium heat, add the oil and carefully add the blended tomato mixture to the oil along another ½ cup (120 ml) of water. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes and it’s ready.