This is a bright, herbal, pungent sauce that works well with any kind of grilled meat. Or bread, or cheese. Or potatoes. Or on cold pasta, or on warm pasta. It would probably be great with fish, too. It’s originally an Argentian sauce, and we always make it when we prepare grilled skirt steak; but we inevitably end up dumping it on everything, and even simply eating it with a spoon.
This version is courtesy of an Argentinian friend, but we’ve made it our own. In fact, one housemate loved it so much, and made it so much, we often refer to it by his name—Mazin sauce. You can use any combination of fresh herbs, really, including mint, basil, cilantro, or thyme. But the major component should be parsley, and we usually add oregano too.
Let’s be honest. This sauce is a pain in the ass to prepare. It takes a whole lot of fine chopping. You might get away with using a food processor, but a great part of the pleasure of this sauce is the texture of the finely chopped herbs, and the crispy bits of pickled onion. And while it takes some work, it keeps in the fridge for a week or more. In the end it should be kind of like a tabouli, but more like the vinagreta de cebolla. It’s not a pesto—it should not be a paste.
– 1 large purple onion
– 1 bulbs of garlic
– 2 spicy fresh chilis (like thai, but even serrano), or to taste
– salt to taste (~2 tsp)
– enough red-wine vinegar to cover the chopped onion (approximately 1/2 cup, 100ml)
– 3/4 cup (120ml) olive oil (or more to taste)
– 2 bunches of flat-leafed parsley (app. 2-3 c chopped, or 200g)
– Up to 1/2 c (50 g) fresh oregano leaves
– 1-2 bunches of cilantro
– Up to 1/2 c (50 g) fresh mint, or basil leaves
– Up to 1 tbsp (10 g) fresh thyme leaves
Finely chop the onions, into a less-than-1/4in (5mm) dice. This salsa is almost as much about texture as taste, so don’t rush this step. The easiest way to ensure that your chopping is even is to first slice the onion into very thin rings, then cut these into thin strips, and then cut these strips crossways. Use a sharp knife. Peel the garlic and chop it as finely as possible. Similarly, split the chilis, clean them, and chop them very finely (try to avoid getting chili on your fingers).
Put the onion, garlic and chili together in a bowl with about half the salt. Add enough red-wine vinegar to barely cover the onion mixture. Stir, and taste. It should be a little salty—adjust the seasoning if it isn’t. Let this mixture marinate, while you remove the leaves of the herbs from their woody stems, and finely chop them.
Combine the herbs, the onion, and the olive oil (it should be swimming in oil, this is a robust sauce, not a delicate salad). Let the flavours combine for at least half an hour before serving. Taste again for salt, vinegar, and chili; and adjust.
You can make this the day before using it, and it keeps for a week or two in the fridge. But, again, don’t skimp on the oil. A thick layer of oil floating on top of the sauce prevents mold, or oxidation. If you’re in a big hurry, you can probably do the garlic and chili together in a food processor, but chop the onions and herbs by hand. This will take a while—sorry, not sorry.