Food

The Ultimate Guide to Salsa Part One

Traditional mexican tomato salsa sauce. Top view. Banner for site design

Salsa is a staple in Latin American cuisine. This history of salsa traces back to Latin American tribes such as the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas. The lords would combine tomatoes with chili peppers and would be used as a condiment for food such as lobsters or fish. The term wasn’t coined until 1571 by Spanish Missionary Alonso de Molina. Throughout the year’s salsa has evolved significantly but retains its traditional roots. Here is our ultimate guide to the world of salsa!

Mexico

First up on our list is Mexico! Mexico is widely known for having a variety of salsas with different levels of spice. Here are a few common types of salsa’s you’ll find in Mexico and parts of the United States.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo, also known as salsa Fresca, is a fresh uncooked salsa that is usually unblended. Ingredients that go into pico de gallo consist of chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, chiles, and salt. Pico, for the most part, isn’t spicy at all but has a mild kick from the addition of chiles. We suggest using pico with tacos or as a dip as it adds flavor as opposed to a spice.

Homemade spicy pico de gallo close-up in a bowl and nachos. horizontal top view

Salsa Roja

When people think of salsa, chances are salsa Roja is what they’re thinking of. Salsa Roja is typically spicier than pico because of the addition of serrano peppers. For salsa Roja, you’ll want to boil some tomatoes to make them soft, grill some serrano peppers, then throw them in a blender with cilantro and garlic. Salsa Roja is thicker than most pico’s and is runnier as well.

Salsa roja mexicana

Salsa Verde

A green counterpart to Roja, salsa Verde has the same consistency with one key difference. It’s made with tomatillos. Tomatillos are oftentimes called a Mexican green tomato. The use of tomatillos in salsa verde causes it to have more of a tangy, zesty flavor due to the nature of the tomatillos. Salsa Verdes tends to be milder than it’s red (Roja) counterpart.

Mexican salsa verde on mortar and pestle with ingredients

Perú

Just like Mexico, Perú has its feet in the origins of salsa. Variations of their salsa include salsa de ají, salsa de rocoto, and salsa Huancaina.

Salsa Ají

Salsa Ají, or Ají Verde, is a fresh condiment that’s unique to Peru. The main ingredients consist of garlic, ají Amarillo, cilantro, Cotija or parmesan, and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise in this turns it into what we’re more familiar with as aioli. We’d describe it as something between our understanding of salsa and aioli. Ají is perfect for meat and fish dishes but can still be used as a dip.

Peruvian Aji Verde Sauce

Salsa de Rocoto

The main ingredients in salsa de rocoto are of course rocoto peppers. As a more popular sauce, the peppers in this add a more than mild taste to this. Common ingredients that go into this include oil, lime juice, and can sometimes include milk, coriander, and parsley. We recommend pairing this with sandwiches, potatoes, and various types of meats.

Salsa Huancaina

Salsa Huancaina, also known as spicy cheese sauce, is a salsa that’s typically served over cold sliced potatoes known as papa a la Huancaína. This sauce has an interesting history. There was a woman from Huancayo that served this dish to the railroad workers who were building the Ferrocarril Central Andino, a high altitude railroad going from Lima to Huancayo in the Andes. The dish became so popular that it was named after the woman “Huancaína”. Although, her real name seems to have been lost in history. This salsa is primarily made of aji Amarillo chile pepper and queso fresco.

Papa a la Huancaina

Argentina

Salsa in Argentina is unique because they don’t really feature jalapenos or peppers. 

Salsa Golf

A combination of ketchup and mayonnaise sounds all too familiar. That’s right. Golf is fry sauce. What differentiates it from fry sauce is that there are seasonings added to this sauce such as pimento, oregano, and cumin to give it more of that Argentine flavor.

Salsa Golf

Salsa Tuco

Tuco Sauce is a pasta sauce that is heavily made with meat and vegetables. The ingredients for this sauce can vary but are typically made with meat, sliced carrots, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and garlic. When finished, this sauce can be paired with any kind of pasta but comes down to personal preference.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri is an uncooked sauce that doubles as a cooking ingredient and a table condiment for grilled meats. There are two kinds of chimichurri: Verde and Rojo. Typically, chimichurri is made with chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar. It’s almost always paired with grilled steaks and roasted sausages.

Raw homemade Argentinian green Chimichurri or Chimmichurri salsa or sauce made of parsley, garlic, oregano, hot pepper, olive oil, vinegar, served in rustic bowl, photographed with natural light (Selective Focus, Focus in the middle of the image)

There are so many kinds of salsa in the world that we could only list so many! Be sure to check back in for part two of our ultimate salsa guide!

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