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Chopped Tomato-Serrano Salsa

12 ounces ripe tomatoes (2 medium-small round or 4-5 plum)
fresh serrano chilies to taste, roughly 3 to 5, stemmed
12 or so sprigs fresh cilantro
1 large garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped (optional)
1 small white onion, about 4-ounce
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

Core the tomatoes, then cut in half width wise and squeeze out the
seeds if you wish (it will give the sauce a less rustic appearance).
Finely dice the flesh by slicing it into roughly 1/4-inch thick
pieces, then cutting each slice into small dice. Scoop into a bowl.

Cut the chilies in half lengthwise (wear gloves if your hands are
sensitive to their piquancy) and scrape out the seeds if you wish
(not only will this make the salsa seem less rustic, but it will
make it a little less picante). Chop the chilies as finely as you
can, then add them to the tomatoes. Carefully bunch up the cilantro
sprigs, and, with a sharp knife, slice them 1/16 inch thick, stems
and all, working from the leafy end toward the stems. Scoop into
the tomato mixture along with the optional garlic. Next finely
dice the onion with a knife, scoop it into a small strainer, then
rinse it under cold water. Shake to remove excess water and add
to the tomato mixture. Taste and season with lime juice and salt,
and let stand a few minutes for the flavors to meld.

Yield: 2 cups


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