The first time I ever encountered pico de gallo was in the fall of 1995 when I worked at a Taco Bell in Flemington, New Jersey. At 16, it was my first job ever, and I only really got the job because it would facilitate the more frequent eating of Taco Bell. And as far as I can remember, the only item that had pico was the Meximelt.
To this day, I’ve had very little interest in that dry cousin of salsa that is pico de gallo. But, when I had kogi tacos back in Manhattan Beach, they were filled with just bulgogi and pico de gallo. And that was it. It was so simple and so good. So when I made my own kogi tacos, I had to make the pico too.
Pico de Gallo Recpie:
1. Micro dice it: take one roma tomato and less than half a red onion and dice them as small as you can. The pico at Sloopy’s Beach cafe was diced into mini mini pieces, as if they used that veggie chopper that you can buy on TV and that I think my sister-in-law has. I wanted to replicate their recipe as close as I could remember for the purposes of kogi tacos. So I did the same.
2. Rip it: I took a heavy hand of cilantro and ripped it into pieces. This was the first time I’ve used cilantro before. You can add it to taste in your own pico or skip it altogether, as I know some people don’t like it. I remember watching an episode of Cooking for Real where Sunny Anderson said that a person’s preference or distaste for cilantro depends on whether they have (or lack?) a certain gene. So it seems, it is genetics that makes me think that using cilantro is douche-y.
That being said, I used the cilantro because the kogi tacos I had at Sloopy’s used cilantro. And I admit, I kind of liked it.
3. Mix it: mix the red onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. And that’s it. You can add pepper, salt, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, or whatever the hell else you want. And I think that a pico de gallo pretty much needs to have some sort of chili pepper in it, if you want to be technical. But it tastes pretty good in this simple way without chili peppers and all that other detritus. It just tasted fresh. And I think that it’s flavors like these that people are talking about when people say that food tastes clean or bright.
It tasted really good with bulgogi on the kogi tacos. But the leftovers were pretty good with in some quesadillas too, which essentially, is what a Meximelt* was.