Don’t get me wrong, I have come to love chimichurri, but this particular saucy love affair got off to a rather rocky start.
In spite of being the national sauce of Argentina, I’m sad to say that the chimichurri I had in Argentina kinda sucked! Shocking I know, but I spent almost an entire month in the country and from Iguazú in the North to Tierra del Fuego in the South, I never once saw anything resembling the ‘fresh’ chimichurri that most of us have come to expect. Perhaps it was just down to my own misfortune that I somehow missed the fresh version, but the Argentinians seem to favour a ‘dry’ chimichurri which consisted of combining dried herbs and spices with olive oil. Such is the prevalence of this version of the sauce, you can even buy pre-mixed dried herbs in packets from the local supermarket. All you need to do is add some oil and voilà: instant chimichurri! Typically a large bowl of this dried herb concoction was left on the counter for customers to help themselves to, but to be honest after a few dollops I lost interest as I couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. So I mentally ticked chimichurri off my TTL (To Taste List), thought “meh” and moved on.
That was way back in 2011 and since then the world seems to have woken up to chimichurri and has absolutely fallen in love with it. Mercifully, however, it has chosen to embrace the fresh version over the dried aberration that so traumatised me in Argentina! Chimichurri seems to be de rigueur at most steakhouses these days and rightfully so – it is downright delicious! As part of my recent flirtations with a LCHF diet, I’ve been eating a lot of steak recently and chimichurri is far and away my favourite sauce with which to have it. Yes that’s right, I gave the sauce a second chance and I’ve never looked back since. Fresh and piquant, it would seem that chimichurri is, in fact, the perfect accompaniment to a fat juicy steak after all!
Whilst similar to a regular salsa verde, don’t be fooled by appearances. Chimichurri is, in fact, far more robust and complex than its Italian counterpart. The key to a killer chimichurri is the addition of fresh oregano, which sets it apart from many other herb-based sauces. Only a small amount is added, but the oregano adds quite a punch, giving the sauce an earthy depth that cuts through the ‘freshness’ of the parsley and coriander.
Normally I’m a notorious stickler for authenticity and I typically strive to replicate a dish as authentically as I can, based on my travels or research. That said, however, when it comes to chimichurri I have to abandon my principles and advocate making the sauce contrary to my experiences in Argentina! So it is in that spirit I feel the need to confess that this recipe for ‘fresh’ chimichurri recipe is like nothing I had in Argentina…which trust me, can only be a good thing!
I don’t say this often, but perhaps sometimes the locals just don’t do it best.
Note: Whilst chimichurri is synonymous with steak, the sauce also works well with any other grilled meats, especially chicken, or perhaps even some grilled halloumi if you wanted a vegetarian option