By Victoria Freixa
Salsa. Not the dance style but the food. Even though they are of equal importance in the Latin world, I’d say only one of them is easy to do right. So, let’s get right down to talking about food! Everyone’s favorite topic.
Salsa is arguably the most recognizable aspect of Latin cuisine. With the right ingredients, you can turn the blandest of meals into a spectacular concoction full of flavor and spice. It’s like the tequila in a margarita— it’s necessary. Some foods are not even worth eating unless you’ve got the right salsa to go with it, am I right? And I think we can all agree that Latinos take the cake when it comes to salsa quality, taste, and creativity. It’s kinda their jam.
While Mexicans are probably the most well-known salsa makers, all Latinos have staked a claim in the salsa game. Ain’t no shame in salsa fame. It’s off the chain. Okay, okay, I’ll stop. The point is that all kinds of Latin Americans have been using different types of salsas on their traditional fares for decades. And we’ve made a list of some of our favorites: from your everyday ones, to some of the lesser-known options… Not in any particular order.
PICO DE GALLO
Pretty much the Beyonce of salsas. It’s popular around the world and makes everything better. It’s so commonly used in Mexican cuisine that you’d be hard-pressed to find a Mexican restaurant that doesn’t offer it on at least 5 or 6 dishes. That’s mainly due to its diversity and let’s face it, its freshness is unparalleled with ingredients like tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and a hint of lime juice.
The salsa of Peru. They use it on everything and for good reason. It’s incredibly tasty, with its jalapeño flavor and perfect amount of kick. I’ll admit to having my best food dreams about this salsa, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. It’s that good, it’s that creamy, it’s that perfect on nearly everything you soak it in. Quite a bit more than just jalapeños goes into aji verde though, so find yourself an easy-enough recipe and we promise you won’t regret it.
Tomatillos taste like they were put on this earth to make into a salsa. They just have that je ne sai quoi that makes the perfect salsa ingredient. For this reason, it doesn’t take too much to make a spectacular tomatillo salsa. Even if you’re as lazy as me… which is unlikely— I’ll out-lazy any one of you. This simple recipe calls for tomatillos and the usual salsa suspects: garlic, lime juice, jalapeños, and onions.
Argentinians and their chimichurri— a love affair for the ages. It’s a national staple with the coolest name. It might as well be the only Argentinian topping, as far as salsas go, because no other condiment comes close. I think we’re all fine with keeping it that way. The typical ingredients include parsley, oregano, garlic, red peppers, oil and vinegar, and there’s really no better way to complement a steak… or an empanada… or even a piece of bread.
Truth be told, you can make this kind of salsa with more than just mango. I’ve seen it done with pineapples, watermelons, and several other tasty fruits. It’s the perfect complement to seafood, or pretty much anything that’s light in flavor and fresh in quality. The key is to take a subtly sweet fruit and add cucumbers, jalapeños, garlic, and lime juice and you’ve got the ideal topping for that summertime meal.
I’m pretty sure Chileans decided to play matchmaker and hooked chimicurri up with pico de gallo; because if pebre isn’t the lovechild of these two I don’t know what is. Chileans love them some pebre and, I’ll admit, it makes every cut of meat that much better. If you’re looking for the perfect barbecue condiment, look no further. Just make pico de gallo, then make chimichurri, then combine them.
I’m convinced that avocados are God’s gift to us. I challenge you to name a superfood that goes well with everything from toasted bread to steak tacos. They’ve become so popular that we’ve almost run out of ways to incorporate them into our every meal, but you can’t blame us for continuing to try. Amongst those methods, avocado salsa is by far one of the best. Regardless of the infinite amount of times we’ve seen it made all over Latin America, it doesn’t have a definitive birthplace. It’s been around for countless generations in countless Latin nations. Though, at this point, who cares who made it first… just glad they made it!