Dog’s Nose Salsa

I’m not one to shy away from hot food. In fact, when we went out to eat at the Boardwalk Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks the other night and my choice was a Cajun Chicken Sandwich, our waitress warned me about the heat it packed.

She gave me the option of having a habanero sauce that comes with the sandwich on the side, but I declined. I’ll have to admit the sandwich was a bit spicy but not too much so for me. In fact, I kind of relished it.

And apparently, I’m not the only one in my family who likes hot stuff. A cousin of mine, Kim Menard of Detroit Lakes, Minn., and I were visiting recently when the topic of canning came up. I told him about my homemade salsa and offered to give him some but said the heat varies from batch to batch. He said not to worry because he grows habanero peppers and makes a sauce out of them because he love the heat.

In case you don’t know, the habanero is one of the hottest chili peppers around, a member of the Scotch Bonnet family. With a  rating of 100,000 to 500,000 units on the Scoville Scale, it’s second only to the Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper (500,000 to 1 million units). In comparison, a jalapeno is 2,500 to 5,000 units.

After talking to Kim, I decided to share this recipe that came my way, which is right up his alley.

Dog’s Nose Salsa (Xni Pec)
1 to 4 habanero or Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stemmed and finely chopped (see note)
2 medium red tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch cubes, with juices
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice or more to taste
1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste, adding more lime juice if needed.
Yield: About 2½ cups
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (based on 6): 24 calories, no fat, 1 gram protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 5 milligrams sodium.
Note: This fiery salsa originated in the Yucatán. Xni Pec, a Mayan term, is pronounced “SHNEE-pek. For a slightly milder salsa, seed the chilies.