An ultra-simple salad/salsa/side dish, Peruvian Red Onion and Tomato Salad requires only a few ingredients, takes a few minutes of active prep time, and is a perfect accompaniment to many of your favorite dishes! A more substantial version of traditional Peruvian Salsa Criolla…
What is “Salsa Criolla?”
Salsa Criolla probably is the most important and most popular side dish / sauce in Peru. Prepared with red onions, ají amarillo, the juice of Peruvian limes and some freshly chopped coriander or parsley, Salsa Criolla accompanies numerous typical local dishes and just has to be on the table when enjoying a great Peruvian meal.
Our first experience with Salsa Criolla was the Creole Salad at Puka Rumi in Ollantaytambo, Cuzco, Peru. This simple salad/salsa always includes red onions, and the other ingredients will vary. Rarely is it seen with tomatoes, but the Puka Rumi version included them, and we loved it!
According to Lima Easy, Salsa Criolla is “probably is the most important and most popular side dish / sauce in Peru. Prepared with red onions, ají amarillo, the juice of Peruvian limes and some freshly chopped coriander or parsley, Salsa Criolla accompanies numerous typical local dishes and just has to be on the table when enjoying a great Peruvian meal.”
Peruvian Red Onion and Tomato Salad starts with very thinly-sliced red onions soaked in ice water with salt for 30 minutes. Give them a good rinse before adding!
The remaining ingredients prepped to go into the salad bowl… If you can’t get ají amarillo, ají limo, Fresno chile, jalapeño, or even red bell pepper will work!
What to Serve Salsa Criolla With?
Is your mouth watering yet? MINE IS. Having just returned from a month in Peru, I’m experiencing Peruvian food cravings… My kitchen is calling!
- 2 red onions, very thinly sliced
- 1 to 2 ají peppers, very thinly sliced (see notes)
- 8 ounces tiny tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
- limes, juiced
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Generously salt the onions, add a handful of ice cubes, and cover with water. Allow them to soak for 15-30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly, and return to the bowl.
- While the onions soak, slice peppers and the tomatoes.
- Squeeze the limes.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
I use ají limo because I can get a bag of these colorful peppers frozen at my local Latin market. They're about as hot as a jalapeno. Ají amarillo would be an excellent choice - especially if you can get them fresh. You can substitute jalapeno or Fresno chiles. Add them to taste.
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