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, meats, 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.
FIRST, "WASH" THE ONIONS
Salsa criolla is simple to prepare. First, thinly slice the onion from top to root. If you prefer, you can also dice the onions.
"Wash" the onions first by placing them in a bowl of cold water with a few good pinches of salt. Squeeze the onions with your hands over and over. The grit from the salt separates the membrane from the onion and removes some of the intensity.
Drain off the water, add more cold water, squeeze again then drain.
Now we add some oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
WHAT ABOUT AJI AMARILLO!
When my Mom and her family came here from Peru, she would make (or try to make) the dishes she grew up with from Peru. You couldn't get aji amarillo from the market and online shopping didn't exist because it was 1950 something.
Therefore, my Mom and aunt used what they had. The salsa criolla I grew up with was made simply from red onions, oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Today, you can buy pretty much anything anywhere, but I still find it hard to find aji amarillo peppers other than frozen. I won't use frozen because the texture is wrong. If you want some heat, you can add aji amarillo paste.
Aji amarillo paste is offered in the Latin section of your market. If you can't find it near you, you can order it online. I use either Inca's Food Aji Amarillo Paste or Goya aji amarillo, which seems to be commonly offered at the supermarket.
If you want to add it, 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.
Salsa criolla is perfect with pork, beef, chicken, and seafood, or use it to top beans, tacos, or anything your heart desires. Try it with eggs. We even eat it with just rice. The list goes on and on.
Life is too short for mediocre food.
HAVE YOU SEEN THESE?
SALSA CRIOLLA (RED ONION DRESSING)PRINT PIN SAVE
- 2 medium red onions thinly sliced from top to root See NOTE 1
- A few good pinch of kosher salt for "washing" the onions
- ¼ cup neutral oil You can use extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup lime juice fresh is best
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon aji amarillo paste or to taste*, optional See NOTE 2
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- chopped fresh cilantro to garnish
- 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 then 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.
- Garnish with some chopped fresh cilantro.
- Can be served immediately or refrigerated. Keeps refrigerated for a few days.
I don't post the nutritional value because I don't trust the accuracy of the nutritional apps. I’m not a nutritionist and don't want to post misinformation.