Salsa Criolla (Red Onion Dressing) is the most popular accompaniment for Peruvian dishes. It’s simple to prepare and brightens any dish.
If you ever get a chance to enjoy Peruvian food, you’ll notice salsa criolla is served frequently with meals. It’s used to brighten the flavors of a dish and is commonly used to top frijoles (beans), lentils, and otherwise plain foods. Every bite awakens the taste buds with a slight crunch from the onions and the piquancy from the vinegar and lime juice.
When my aunt visited from Peru, she made salsa criolla to accompany the frijoles (beans) she was making for dinner. She cut a red onion in half and placed it in a bowl of cold water. When I asked why, she explained it eliminated tears when slicing. After 10 minutes or so, she took the onion out and began to slice. Tears formed and I asked if she was okay. She told me the onions were making her cry. Maybe the cold water here is different from Peru.
Salsa criolla is simple to prepare. First, thinly slice the onion into half moons. If you prefer, you can also dice the onions.
“Wash” the onions first by placing them in a bowl of cold water with a good pinch of salt. The onion slices are squeezed over and over. The grit from the salt separates the membrane from the onion and removes some of the intensity. The process is repeated once more, if needed.
The onions are then tossed with some oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, and then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. From there you can add aji amarillo paste to add some heat. Start with a little, then add more to your liking. Be warned, different brands have different intensities in heat. I made that mistake when I tried a different brand and found it to be twice as spicy.
Serve alongside beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or use it to top beans, tacos, or anything your heart desires.
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Life is too short for mediocre food.
Salsa Criolla (Red Onion Dressing)Print Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 large red onion, sliced into thin half moons should yield about 3 cups when thinly sliced
- good pinch of kosher salt for "washing"
- ¼ cup vegetable or neutral oil
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon aji amarillo paste - or to taste* optional
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- Place the sliced onions in a bowl and sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt. Cover with cold water and squeeze the onions to "wash" them. This separates the membrane from the onion making them sweeter. Drain the water and add more cold water and squeeze the onions again without adding more salt. Drain.
- Add in remaining ingredients and stir.
- Adjust for salt and pepper.
- Can be served immediately or refrigerated. Keeps refrigerated for a few days.