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Experiment with sauces of Spain

Salsa is Spanish for "sauce," and if your repertoire is limited to that jarred Hispanic mixture we heap on tortilla chips, you're missing a ton of taste. Important sauces of Spanish cuisine include:

* Salsa Mahonesa: Think mayonnaise comes from France? You'd have a tough time convincing a Spaniard, who would likely claim it was invented on the island of Minorca and named after its capital, Mahon. In an assault both military and culinary, the French allegedly absconded with the recipe when they seized the port.

* Aioli: Like the French Aioli, it's an emulsion of garlic and olive oil, but in Spain it's often made without egg.

* Mojos: A variety of raw sauces made with olive oil, vinegar, cumin and a generous jolt of garlic. Red mojos get their color from pimenton (smoked paprika) and red peppers. Green mojos include parsley or cilantro and sometimes avocado.

* Salsa Romesco: A flavorful sauce of onions, olive oil, peppers, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar, characterized by its use of almonds and sometimes hazelnuts. Delicious on fish and meat, it's also used as a simmering sauce and lends its name to a variety of dishes.

* Salsa Espanola: A sauteed onion and carrot sauce used primarily for meats.

* Samfaina: A Catalan blend of onion, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and olive oil. Similar to French ratatouille, Samfaina is used as a sauce or eaten as a side dish.

* Salsa De Tinta, or Tinta de Calamar: Intensely flavored sauce based on squid ink. Used in the black rice dish, Arroz Negro.

Keep this versatile sauce on hand all summer to baste or marinade seafood, chicken and steak.

> Grilled Shrimp with Orange and Habanero Mojo

Habanero Mojo:

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon fresh or pickled habanero chili, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

Coarsely ground black pepper


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 wooden skewers, soaked in water 2 hours

To prepare mojo, combine orange juice, olive oil, chili pepper, garlic, cilantro, mustard, salt and pepper.

To prepare shrimp, combine olive oil and garlic. Thread 2 shrimp on each skewer, and brush both sides with oil mixture.

Prepare grill. Grill shrimp on a hot grill 2 minutes on each side, brushing with the remaining oil mixture. Serve with a drizzle of Habanero Mojo. Serves 2.

Recipe courtesy of Aaron Sanchez.

Per serving: 320 calories, 29 g fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 6 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 770 mg sodium.
Look for Relish magazine the first Thursday of each month in The Buffalo News.

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