Terroir – a word that explains the inexplainable. The way flavours and feelings seem to just seep out of the ground in a certain place. That certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes an onion from one place taste different than an onion from another.
Of course, wine takes most of the terroir spotlight. But in Argentina, it is impossible to separate the taste of the wine from the people who make it, and from the food they like (love?) to eat.
Head to Mendoza, for example, and you’ll find passionate, youthful people with a sophisticated style living in a rugged environment. Easy to love. Those same words (passion, youth, sophisticatin, rugged) can apply to their signature wine, Malbec, which is ‘easy to drink’.
These same folks love to have an asado. It’s their absolute favourite food, favourite activity, favourite way to spend a Sunday.
And so Malbec is the perfect wine for steak. Chimichurri is the perfect condoment for steak. And Argentina is the perfect place for all three.
Now, you can get some Malbec at just about any wine store on the planet. And while the best grass-fed steaks are here in ARG, you can pick up a striploin, tenderloin, hanger, ribeye and the like at butchers in most towns.
But chimichurri, theoretically at least, can be made right at home in your own kitchen. Chimichurri is spicy, it’s earthy, it’s herb-y and it’s refreshing. All at once, yes.
How, then, does one make chimichurri? Tough question.
Everybody has their own answer, their own recipe, their own version. There is no definitive chimichurri recipe. It’s all about your individual tastes.
In my house, we stick with a very simplified version that is almost a ‘provencal’ sauce….mostly parsley, olive oil and a lot of garlic.
A more traditional recipe comes from the cookbook “Asi Cocinan los Argentinos” (How Argentines cook).
- 1.2 cup oil
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup vinegar or 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup wine
- 1 tsp table salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 1 scallion or green onion, chpped
- 1 small tomato, peeled and seeded, chopped
- 1 small sweet pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper or chili pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano leaves
- 2 bay leaves, broken in small piece
Chop everything up, but don’t blend or mix it in a machine. The idea is for it be chunky, not paste-like. All elements should be easily recognizable. Put all the mixed/chopped ingredients in a bottle. Shake the bottle occasionally over 12 hours before using.
Try it and tell me what you think. Have a variation to share? I’d love to hear it.