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Salsa Tatemada | Charred Salsa

Gabriela Cámara

Lesson time 21:09 min

Using a traditional Mexican molcajete (a mortar and pestle), Gabriela creates a rich, charred, red tomato–based salsa. She also discusses the concept of la milpa, the centuries-old symbiotic crop-growing system.

Gabriela Cámara
Teaches Mexican Cooking
Celebrated chef Gabriela Cámara shares her approach to making Mexican food that brings people together: simple ingredients, exceptional care.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - Right now I'm going to show you how to make a salad roja tatemada or a salsa tatemada because it's not only red. We, in Mexican food, very often have charred flavors in our food. Tatemada means burnt or blistered-- more accurately, blistered. And this is a sauce that we make with tomatillo, with tomato, with onion, with garlic, and with these different chilies. So we're going to start by-- this is our serrano, which is fresh. These are our dried versions of the chilies. I'm going to start by destemming them. And I'm going to devein them just because I don't want them to be extra spicy. You see here they are two very similar chilies. And this is the fresh version, serrano. And this is the dry version. And when it's dried, it's called morita, because the color becomes like a berry. So mora means berry. And this is chili morita. And it's one of my favorite ways. I love serrano. I love fresh but morita, love it. I'm going to leave a little bit of the seeds. And I'm going to put it on the hot comal. This has to be really hot because you want things to char. The whole point of the sauce is that you get the flavor of the charring. So I'm going to leave the fresh serrano. I'm going to keep on destemming these just so I can take out more of the seeds. And if you're having trouble deseeding them, you can cut through them because, in any case, we're going to mash it all up so it really doesn't matter if it doesn't look perfect. For example, this one is being difficult so I'm going to cut through it as I did with the first one. And then you open it and there go the seeds, or at least most of the seeds. You know, many times you see the chili, even if it's a dry chili, it has these veins. And this is, many times, where the spice is even so than in the seeds or even more so than in the seeds. See, sometimes I just can't speak English. I'm sorry. Sometimes it doesn't do the trick. OK. So we're going to start with these chilies. And at the same time, I'm going to-- ooh, here we go. I'm going to do the garlic. When you roast chilies, any chili, it's going to be very smoky. And it's going to be hard on your eyes, nostrils, throat. You better have an exhaust or an open window because the aroma is intense. You want to roast them just so that the skin becomes less leathery. And I have some water here simmering. I'm going to put the chilies in there to soften them. And I'm going to have that water be infused with all the aromas of the chili. I'm going to turn it off. I don't want to cook them. I just want to soak them there so that we have the aromas come out and the skin softens. You can do 10 to 15 minutes at least. But you can also let them soak for four hours and it's fine. What you want is to make sure that you can mash up the skin. So you want to break the fibers of the chile when you grind it for the salsa. And in order to do that, you need it to be softer, because otherwise it's really resistant. Even in...

Savor every moment

A “star of modern Mexican cuisine,” Gabriela Cámara brings her local, sustainable twist to time-honored traditions. Now the chef of Contramar shares the richness of her culture through the art of food. Learn step-by-step recipes—for dishes of her own design, like tuna tostadas, and staples like tacos al pastor, salsa, and tortillas—and delight loved ones with your own delicious renditions of Mexican favorites.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I have learned the exacting details of making high quality Mexican food. Seeing each of the dishes prepared gives you such a help in having the confidence to try making them yourself. Showing how to deal with each of the specific ingredients allows you to feel secure that you are correctly using each one. I look forward to trying each of these dishes and salsas.

She is an inspiring teacher, and expresses her ideas and words with care. I have downloaded the workbook so that I can attempt many of these dishes, beginning with the salsas!

This class was fun to experiment with at home! Tacos al pastor and homemade salsa feel so accessible now.

I lived in Mexico for a few months after graduating from college. While I loved the culture and the food, I never learned to cook Mexican dishes. Gabriela's course was a delightful way to open that door. I will be exploring this cuisine in our kitchen.



That salsa worked out really well. I added charred poblano chile, just for fun of it. Also, I used chipotles and jalopenos istead of moritas and serranos. Still, spicy enough! Love it!


This salsa was a hit with my neighbors and husband! But yes - take out your smoke alarm batteries and open all the windows! I wish I had smaller tomatillos because the larger ones blistered before they cooked all the way through, I think (I ordered online through Whole Foods and did not pick them out myself). I enjoyed using my molcajete, although mine was too small for this recipe so I had to do it in two batches. Definitely an arm workout. I want to make this more often, although, I may use a blender if I'm serving this at someone else's home just to have a little convenience of not splitting up the grinding.

Sergei Y.

Can't wait to try this! But who else was getting anxiety looking at that pan and thinking about cleaning it?!

Brandon K.

Made Fajitas one night with the family and put all my veggies on the grill. This turned out great.


"Corn and tortillas... and beans... low carb" - Not quite on the money there.

Linda P.

Gabreila is so cute!! The only problem with these classes is I can't taste the things she is making. Guess I need to go shopping for the ingredient's, and start cooking.

Ed S.

You say the salsa stays fresh for 2-3 days. There is no way my small household can eat all of that in 2 days. Does it survive freezing? Or should I just cut the recipe back to half or less?

William T.

Instead of charring the ingredients on the comal, could you blister/char them in an over using the broiler?