How Rick Martinez Makes Delicious Salsa With Out-Of-Season Tomatoes - Exclusive

Rick Martinez, the chef, author, and James Beard Award winner based out of Mazatlán, is one of the preeminent English-language experts on Mexican food today. In other words, he's the perfect person to turn to for taco advice. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Martinez broke down many of the mistakes people make when cooking tacos at home.

The chef noted that you often have to modify how you cook Mexican food if you're located in the U.S. because the tomatoes are bland and mealy when eaten outside the local growing season. And although he rarely adds lime to salsas made with flavorful Mexican tomatoes, he says it's a great way to amp up the taste of lackluster ones found stateside. He cautions, "If you try to make a tomato salsa in January or February, it's going to be gross, and the only way to compensate for that is you either have to cook it or add lime juice at the end to give you some kind of flavor." Lime juice isn't Martinez's only hack for making delicious salsa in the winter, either.

In addition to adding lime, look for specific types of tomatoes

While all tomatoes taste best in season, some varieties happen to fare better in the winter than others. The tomatoes that taste best in the cold part of the year aren't necessarily ones you'd traditionally use in salsa, but they're preferable to more classic (but tasteless) varieties. Martinez advised, "I have found that cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes tend to have flavor year-round, and so there's no reason you can't just make a salsa using cherry tomatoes."

It's important to pay attention when you're shopping and use your senses to select the tomatoes that seem most promising, regardless of what variety they are. It might be a different type of tomato every time you go to the grocery store. "Find the tomatoes that actually have flavor — it could be organically grown or sometimes Campari tomatoes." And if none of the tomatoes are particularly great, cooking can concentrate and strengthen their flavor, while lime juice injects some acidity to wake them up.