Argentine cuisine is not particularly known for its spices, however, and despite the mild flavoring, there are some spices that are guaranteed to be present in the pantry of any an Argentine maiden or man. How else would the locals have come up with that delicious chimichurri?
Below are the five key spices of Argentine Cuisine:
Cayenne pepper: This red-hot spice is actually very typical and grows in the northern regions. It is used as one of the bases of chimichurri, and also added to meat empanadas, and other typical dishes including locro.
Paprika: This Spanish pepper is always present in beef or chicken empanadas, locro, pot roasts and chicken stews (estofados) and other bodegon specials.
Oregano: Given the history of Italian immigration to the country it should come as no surprise that this savory herb be a part of the local cuisine. It is used for pizza of course, sprinkled on top of a halved tomato (a typical side dish) and more importantly for chimichurri.
Bay Leaf: Again the Mediterranean influence makes itself evident in the use of bay leaf in tomato sauces, slow cook stews and in chimichurri.
Nutmeg: Although less typical, this curious spice is ever present in the typical salsa blanca (white sauce) that accompanies corn and spinach dishes such as humita empanadas for example. It is also commonly used in pasta dishes, especially with ricotta fillings.
Eating a choripan on your trip to Argentina is mandatory if you truly want to know what the locals are all about.
What is a choripan? It’s grilled chorizo sausage (that’s the chori bit) in a bun (the pan).
This caloric and flavorful sandwich is frequently an asado appetizer, a construction worker or taxi drivers lunch, a football game hunger killer (for the cheering crowds), and a political gift for attendees at rallies and events. As those who know Argentina can testify to, a very local picture.
So where can you get a choripan? Basically anywhere in the city! In a parrilla of course, outside football matches, along side the costanera in front of Aeroparque, in Palermo close to the Planetarium, alongside the ecological reserve, at the San Telmo fair, the Mataderos fair, and the list goes on and on.
A good option is EL PUESTITO DEL TIO, a parrilla cart on Dorrego 4050, Palermo, and of course don’t forget to complement with some typical Chimichurri sauce!
Chimichurri is a traditional sauce made from herbs, garlic and vinegar that is used on meat at asados. It is said that the name of the sauce comes from the British. Allegedly, the English men associated the spice-based sauce with curry, so when they wanted it they said “give me curry” which was locally understood as chimichurri.
There are many ways to make the sauce and we have included just one of the many recipes. Whichever way it’s done we recommend you make it a few days ahead to enhance the flavor.
● 250 ml water (1 cup)
● 60 ml vinegar (¼ cup)
● 60 ml vegetable oil (¼ cup)
● 1 Tbsp coarse salt
● 1 Tbsp dried oregano
● 1 Tbsp thyme
● 1 Tbsp ground chili pepper
● 1 Bay leaf
● Fresh parsley
● 5 garlic cloves, chopped
Heat the water, vinegar and salt until they boil.
Mix all the other ingredients except for the oil and incorporate them to the water mixture.