In Southern California, the town of Escondido has dozens of Mexican markets. They sprout up every few miles, each a unique neighborhood gathering place in the community. There are also a few Mexican supermercados, complete with carnicería (butcher shop), panaderia (bakery), cocina (kitchen), and tortilleria (tortilla factory), along with the mercado (market) itself. My favorite supermercado is called Mi Pueblo.
A tiny 3-booth taco shop sits in the front of the store. For $2, you can get three tacos loaded with carne asada, adobada, or cabeza. Big bowls of radishes, cucumbers, and salsa sit on each table. The tacos are amazing, but the salsa really steals the show. It has a little kick, which is mandatory for me, but the real surprise is the crunchy cabbage. This is my version of their secret salsa.
2 dried Guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
6-8 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded
3 Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup cabbage, finely shredded and then chopped
juice of one lime
salt to taste
With a damp paper towel, wipe the Guajillo chiles clean. Stem and seed the chiles and then place them in a dry skillet and toast over medium-high heat until fragrant. The color of the chiles may darken slightly, but take care not to burn them or they will become bitter. Place the Guajillo chiles in a small bowl or measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
Place the Guajullo chiles and a small amount of the soaking water in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more soaking water as necessary. The purée should be a deep rich red.
Core and quarter the tomatoes. Add tomatoes to the blender, along with the chiles de árbol. Blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl.
Wash the cilantro and shake it dry. Cut off the stems from the bottom of the bunch, then finely chop the remaining stems and leaves. Finely shred and then chop the cabbage. Add the cilantro and the cabbage to the puréed chiles and tomatoes and mix well.
Squeeze in the juice of one lime and add salt to taste.