By Joanna Bober
Updated Apr 07, 2015 @ 1:30 pm
Credit: Alex Reside for

If you love to challenge your tastebuds with lots of spice, then superchef Alex Stupak's homemade salsa habanero has your name on it.

Stupak serves it up alongside his mouthwatering Cochinita Pibil Tacos, featured in the April issue of InStyle, on newsstands now. But take note: "It's not like a pico de gallo that you might scoop up with a chip," he says. "This is a true salsa where a little bit goes a long way."

He invited us into his immaculate kitchen at Empellon Cocina in New York's East Village to watch him whip up a batch, all while the chefs around him grilled tomatillos and cleaned freshly caught squid for that day's menu, the air fragrant with corn tortillas and toasting spices. Find the recipe below, along with short GIFs of Stupak demonstrating the various steps involved in the preparation.

Alex Stupak's Fiery Habanero Salsa

Total time: 40 minutesMakes: 2 cups


10 fresh habanero or Scotch bonnet chiles1 small white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick1/2 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican1 tbsp. sugar1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar1 tsp. kosher saltJuice and finely grated zest of 1 orangeJuice and finely grated zest of 1 lime


1. Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the habaneros and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until blackened in spots, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a bowl and let cool.

Credit: Alex Reside for

2. Return the skillet to moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, turning, until blackened in spots and softened slightly, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle the oregano over the onion and cook until fragrant. Scrape the onion into a blender and add the sugar, vinegar, salt, and citrus juices and zests.

Credit: Alex Reside for

3. Stem and seed the habaneros (we recommend wearing gloves for this step so as not to spread spicy habanero to places unwanted) and add the chiles to the blender.

Credit: Alex Reside for

4. Puree all ingredients until the salsa is smooth. The salsa can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Credit: Alex Reside for