Recipe by Nikki Guerrero
Born in Phoenix, AZ in 1973
Lives in Portland, OR
Profession: Owner of Hot Mama Salsa, making fresh salsas, hot sauces, and chili oils by hand, working with local farmers, and selling directly to customers
Leisure: I cook and drink and spend time with family and friends. Then I get anywhere near water I can.
Childhood cuisine: My Mexican grandmother lived with us. We had homemade tortillas everyday and there was always salsa in the fridge, and often a pot of beans. But then my mom is from the Midwest so we also had turkey tetrazzini and beef stroganoff.
I first met Nikki at the King Farmers Market, where we each have a booth from May through November. Nikki’s company, Hot Mama Salsa, makes the most delicious fresh salsas, hot sauces and flavorful chili oils. Her mission is to make good food for our community. “Just make food for your family,” she affirms. Along the way, she also promotes Mexican culture through food. This dish is an intensely delicious marriage of Chinese and Mexican influences. Extremely flavorful, rich but not heavy, spicy but not scorching, this falls into the category: I could eat this every day.
Over the years, I’ve met several farmers who grow peppers for Nikki. Her commitment to partnering with local farmers began 8 years when she met a farmer on Sauvies Island and they formed a partnership. He became a full fledged chili farmer. They would both source seeds from all over the world, and she would study the history of the chilies and how they had been used. That’s how she started the Salsa of the Week Club, sharing her exploration of different chilies and excitement to play in the kitchen. Today, Nikki has 10 employees, 9 of whom are women, tucked into a kitchen behind Cherry Sprout Market off North Albina.
If you’re in Portland, find NIkki’s products at various local markets including the PSU, Hollywood, St. Johns, Milwaukie, and King Farmers Markets. If you’re not here, come visit! Or order online: hotmamasalsa.com.
Active Time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: Easy | 4 servings
1 large shallot
2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon coconut, peanut, sunflower, or avocado oil
1 pound ground turkey (or use pork, beef, chicken or even tempeh)
2 tablespoons Hot Mama’s Smoky Coffee Chili Oil
1/4 cup Chinese fermented soy beans, sometimes called Salted Soybeans or Yellow Bean Paste
1/2 bunch cilantro
4 sprigs fresh mint
Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
1 package (12 ounces) Umi Organic fresh ramen noodles
Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil.
Finely dice your shallots and fresh ginger. Try peeling your ginger with a spoon, it’s so easy!
Heat a cast iron skillet or sauté pan to medium high. Add in your oil, shallots, and fresh ginger. Sauté for about two minutes until fragrant, then add in your ground meat.
Sauté the ground meat until cooked through and it starts to get crispy bits. Add in the chili oil and fermented soy beans and stir to incorporate. Turn your heat down to low. Once your pot of water is boiling gently pull apart and loosen your ramen noodles. Add to your boiling water and boil for 2 minutes, stirring often. Drain noodles in a strainer, shake well and add to your skillet and mix with your sauté.
Finely chop cilantro, scallions, and mint.
Pour your noodles onto a serving plate and top with fresh herbs, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds.
Love your family and eat good food. Buen Provecho!
Photos by Shawn Linehan.