Pico de Gallo, a side dish with just five ingredients. I repeat, just five ingredients to bring out the Mexican flavor. So you know it will be an easy side dish to make, even when you’re up against the clock and needing to feed a host of hungry people!
But before we show you how to throw this dish together, we would like to share some interesting information we found out on the way.
Why is it called Pico de Gallo?
Gallo means “rooster”, and pico means “beak”, so pico de gallo is literally “beak of rooster”, or “rooster’s beak”. There are various theories as to why this name was given. It could relate to how we would eat the salad in a traditional Mexican style as it looks similar to a rooster’s beak, pinching the thumb and forefingers. But this is just a theory from Sharon Tyler Herbst, an American cookbook and culinary book author.
Many native residents of the Sonora region in Mexico give another theory, which is that the dish got its name from the beak-like shape of the serrano chili pepper. I have to say, both theories make sense and it would be impossible to tell which is true. I choose to believe in both, in case you’re wondering. Do you have another theory? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Oh and one more thing: although the traditional recipe calls for serranos, you can use any kind of peppers you want. We all like different levels of heat and you can choose your peppers based on that. Our recipe uses jalapeños, and you can keep the serranos for tradition if you prefer.
The difference between Pico de Gallo and salsa
If you’ve been wondering what the difference between the two is, let me save you some time and tell you that Pico de Gallo also counts as a salsa. So what is a “salsa”? Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines it:
“A usually spicy sauce of chopped tomatoes, onions, and peppers that is commonly served with Mexican food.”
So simply put, Pico de Gallo is one variety of the salsa family, unblended and uncooked. We are generally more used to the cooked kind of salsa, but both are tomato-based and perfect to pair with almost any Mexican dish.
Fun fact: Pico de Gallo is also called salsa fresca or salsa cruda, which means “fresh salsa” or “uncooked salsa”. More names to use when at a Mexican restaurant!
Should I get store-bought Pico de Gallo instead of making my own?
You can find almost anything nowadays at the store, but I would never get a store-bought version of pico de gallo, and for good reason.
One, this Pico de Gallo recipe takes just 5 ingredients. Cube them all and mix them together. It’s so easy and takes no time at all.
Two, I can’t control what goes in a store-bought version, especially the salt. Sometimes I prefer the sodium to be as low as possible, sometimes I love my salad a bit salty. There are even times when I may want none of the serranos and just bell peppers so the kids (and those with low spice tolerance) can enjoy too. It’s nice to be able to choose.
Three, no plastic wasted. Most of the Pico de Gallo sold in the store comes in plastic tubs. Since plastic waste is a continuing issue, I don’t see any reason to further contribute to it.
Four, I prefer my food fresh, especially salads. You can’t judge how crunchy the veg cubes are just by looking at the outside of the container. I know how annoyed I would be if I were to bring home a disappointing product, so fresh products are always my go-to.
Things to serve with Pico de Gallo
This salsa salad brings freshness, crunchiness, tanginess, and a bit of heat. As a famous someone I forgot the name of once said, a delicious meal should have all the food texture there is and the complementing flavors. Here are just a few examples of Mexican dishes that pair extremely well with this Pico de Gallo recipe:
- Tacos: crunchy taco shells and soft fish, tofu or meat filling, dressed with creamy cheese topping. A bit of heat and freshness from Pico de Gallo is just what you need.
- Nachos: cut the creaminess of the queso with crunchy, tangy bites of tomato, lime and a bit of heat from the chili.
- Quesadillas: just like tacos, quesadillas need a fresh, crisp side salad to refresh your palate.
- Guacamole: up your guacamole dipping game by stirring the salad into the dip! It makes for a healthier, flavorful, even more delicious dipping sauce for chips while you enjoy the game or dinner with friends.
Pick your favorite Mexican creation and have a great evening!
How To Make Pico De Gallo Recipe
- 10.6 oz white onion 2 medium, finely chopped
- 1 oz jalapeño 1 medium, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 1/2 lb ripe red tomato chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
- Combine the onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt.
- Let it marinate for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and cilantro.
- Mix in the tomatoes and cilantro.
- Taste and adjust.
It’s as simple as that!