Café Olé on University Avenue in Oxford was a popular eatery in the 1990s. I worked there briefly when I returned to Oxford after several years in Florida, and boy, was I a mess.
The dip, served as a complimentary side with a basket of warm tortilla chips, is typical of most good Mexican restaurants. We made gallons and gallons of it.
Converting a restaurant recipe to one easily made at home presents problems both with the scaling-down process and the ingredients. Bear in mind also that this recipe is my adaptation of the one I copied down some twenty years ago.
So make a batch according to these directions and then modify it as you see fit. I have scaled down the more distinctive ingredients (lime juice, vinegar, jalapeno “juice”, onion, garlic, and cilantro) in this version, because once these are added, you can’t very well remove them. If you want more, you can add it later.
The dip should be on the thin side, very sharp, redolent of garlic, cilantro, and lime.
1 12-oz. can tomato puree
1 cup water
1 12-oz. can whole tomatoes (with juice)
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup canned jalapeno juice (or any hot pepper vinegar)
1 cup jalapenos (half that if you’re using fresh)
1 large white onion, chopped
1/4 cup granulated garlic (I recommend dried/minced as a substitute)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Process until smooth