The Surreal Killer

The Surreal Killer
Machu Picchu. Peru

Saturday, March 30, 2013


The familiar tomato-cilantro-Serrano or Jalapeno chile mix called salsa we dip our chips into on the Mexican lunch/dinner table is a regional variant of a ubiquitous sauce in Latin America.  In Argentina, Uruguay, or Chile there aren’t chips to dip and there isn’t tomato-based salsa.  So what will you meet on these tables?  I’ll give you a hint---food is pretty bland in most of Argentina and Uruguay, and the prevalent “seasoning” is too much salt on the beef.

In Chile, a little hot pepper is OK and we get it in the salsa called “Pebre”.  A typical Pebre recipe follows, but there are almost an infinite number of variations on the theme.

1/3 Cup olive oil
2 TB red wine vinegar
1/3 Cup water
2 Serrano chiles
½ Cup chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
1 TB minced fresh oregano
Optional: Minced garlic (a couple of cloves) and/or minced onion

Mix all of the ingredients and let the mixture stand for 2 hours at room temperature or refrigerate overnight before serving

In Uruguay or most of Argentina you’ll get a dip/salsa without the chile peppers to go on the beef called “Chimichurri”.  I like this condiment a lot.  I’d guess it has a strong Spanish ancestry.

1 Bunch parley
8 Cloves minced garlic
¾ Cup olive oil
¼ Cup red wine vinegar
1 Juiced lemon wedge
1 TB diced red onion
1 Tsp dried oregano
1 Tsp black pepper
½ Tsp salt

Chop the parsley, blend in a Blendor for 1 whirl.  Add everything else and blend until liquid.  Store in a refrigerator.

I always liked the cooking scenes in the Spenser novels, but Parker’s choices of dishes were usually kind of boring.  I hope the international flavors here make these condiments a bit more fun to try.

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