Salsa de molcajete has a wonderful smoky flavor from the char-grilling, while Pico de gallo, which literally means "rooster's beak," is the mother of all Mexican salsas with its fresh simplicity.

Makes about 172 cups

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

6 plum tomatoes or 4 beefsteak tomatoes

2 fresh green bird's-eye hot chiles, stemmed and chopped

V3 small red onion, finely chopped

3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (use leaves and stems)

juice of 1 lime sea salt

Salsa de Molcajete (pictured)

Put the tomatoes and chiles on a very hot griddle or under the broiler, and turn to blacken on all sides. Let cool for about 5 minutes. On a wooden cutting board, cut the tomatoes into quarters, then scrape into a food processor with their seeds and any juice. Add the chiles, and process for about 30 seconds until you have a coarse-textured purée. Alternatively, pound the tomatoes and chiles using a large mortar and pestle. Transfer to a serving bowl and add the onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Season generously with salt. Taste, and adjust as needed - remember, seasoning is key, so don't scrimp. Let stand for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop. This salsa also keeps very well for a couple of days if stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature with tacos, fajitas, or char-grilled meats.

Makes about 11/> cups Prep time: 10 minutes

6 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped 1 white onion, finely chopped 1 ripe avocado (optional) 3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (use both leaves and stems) 1-2 fresh green thai, bird's-eye, or serrano hot chiles, seeded and finely chopped juice of 1 lime sea salt

Pico de gallo

Put the tomatoes and onion in a bowl. Halve and pit the avocado (if using), and cut into dice. Add to the bowl with the cilantro and stir through gently. Next, add the chile a little at a time, tasting as you go, and stop when you reach the desired level of heat. Season with a little salt, and squeeze in the fresh lime juice. Serve immediately with freshly made tortillas, in tacos or fajitas, or alongside steaks marinated with lime juice and a little olive oil.

Variation Stir some sweetcorn kernels or cooked black beans into the salsa just before serving.

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