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In Mexican cuisine, pico de gallo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpiko ðe ˈɣaʎo], literally rooster's beak), also called salsa fresca, is a fresh, uncooked salad made from chopped tomato, white onion, and chilis (generally jalapeños, serranos or habaneros). Other ingredients may also be added, such as shrimp, vienna sausage or squid, avocado, key lime juice, lime juice or apple cider vinegar, fresh coriander leaves, cucumber, radish or firm fruit such as mango. It is generally eaten with tortilla chips.
Pico de gallo can be used in much the same way as other salsas, Kenyan kachumbari, or Indian chutneys, but since it contains less liquid, it can also be used as a main ingredient in dishes such as tacos and fajitas.
The tomato-based variety is widely known as salsa picada (minced/chopped sauce). In Mexico it is sometimes called salsa mexicana (Mexican sauce). Because the colors of the red tomato, white onion, green chili are reminiscent of the colors of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called salsa bandera (flag sauce).
In many regions of Mexico the term refers to any of a variety of salads (including fruit salads), salsa, or fillings made with tomato, tomatillo, avocado, melon, orange, jícama, cucumber, papaya, or mild chilis. The ingredients are tossed in lime juice and either hot sauce or chamoy, then sprinkled with a salty chili powder.
In their book Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico, Rick Bayless and Deann Groen speculate that the name might allude to the bird feed-like texture and appearance of the mince.
In a 2010 press release, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that between 1998 and 2008, 1 out of 25 restaurant-associated foodborne illnesses in the United States with identified food sources had been traced back to restaurant salsa or guacamole. According to a July 13, 2010, news item by journalist Elizabeth Weise, a 2008 outbreak of salmonella in the U.S. was traced back to the peppers used in salsa. Originally reported to the CDC by the New Mexico Department of Health, over the course of several months, the outbreak sickened a total of 1,442 people in 43 U.S. states and resulted in 286 hospitalizations. Weise reported that Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety, found refrigeration was critical to safe salsa; and also that using fresh garlic and fresh lime juice, instead of their more processed equivalents, inhibited the growth of bacteria.