Chile might have pebre, Bolivia llajwa and Peru, salsa criolla, but when it comes to the most prolific sauce in Argentina, chimichurri wins hands down. Recipes vary between kitchens throughout the nation, but it remains a firm favorite for barbecues and an integral part of Argentina’s dining culture. Here’s why you should try chimichurri, Argentina’s most famous condiment.
What is chimichurri?
Coming in two different types, chimichurri verde (green chimichurri) and chimichurri rojo (red chimichurri), this is a condiment made from herbs, garlic, onions and chili flakes, which are mixed with lemon juice or vinegar to make it slightly spicy.
Chimichurri can be used in various ways. In some instances, it is the preferred marinade or seasoning for meat, while in other homes across Argentina, it’s used as an accompaniment, which is passed around in a small container with a large spoon and ladled onto food.
Where does it originate from?
The name is believed to come from the Basque word tximitxurri (meaning “a mixture of everything”) as many people from the Basque region of Spain settled in Argentina in the 19th-century. However, the sauce itself is unquestionably Argentine and is a staple national condiment.
Families across the country whip up their own recipe to be used for a traditional Argentine asado, which normally take place at least once per week and act as an occasion to eat food and drink Argentine malbec with friends and family.
Recipes for chimichurri
It’s possible to use different combinations of herbs in the preparation of Argentine chimichurri, with some recipes recommending parsley and oregano and others suggesting a mixture of parsley and thyme. Similarly, scallions can be substituted for onions or shallots and the volume of chili flakes added to the mixture very much depends upon the personal preferences of the chef.
To make a traditional family chimichurri:
- Finely chop two bunches of fresh parsley, two sprigs of thyme and two scallions and add them to a medium-sized bowl.
- Mince five peeled garlic cloves and add them to the mixture with one and a half tablespoons of crushed chili flakes.
- Add ¾ of a cup of apple cider vinegar, the juice of one lemon and two cups of olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper and stir well.
Many recipes recommend the use of a food processor, however this is not essential and many Argentinians prepare their chimichurri by dicing their ingredients finely. Don’t worry about making too much as you can store chimichurri sauce in the fridge for a few weeks.
Where to sample chimichurri, Argentina’s most famous sauce
If going out for a meal in Buenos Aires, it’s likely you’ll find a bottle of homemade or even shop bought chimichurri on the table. But don’t be fooled. Most Argentinians don’t actually eat this condiment with every meal.
As a condiment traditionally served at barbecues, to sample authentic Argentine chimichurri, head to a parrilla restaurant in the Buenos Aires barrio, Palermo. Dine on entraña (skirt steak) or a succulent bife de chorizo (sirloin) and add a few spoonfuls of chimichurri to the meat or even your salad to give it an extra bite.