Mexican Sauces

 

Chili or Chile Sauce

A sauce or condiment that can be made from any one of many different chili peppers, depending on the desired intensity and flavor. This sauce may be blended with vinegar, herbs, garlic, and other seasonings to produce a somewhat sweet and spicy flavored chili sauce that can be red, green, yellow, or brown in color. Many different ingredients can be added to create this sauce, such as tomatoes in some recipes, giving the sauce a deeper red color and a stronger tomato flavor, while green ingredients produce a green chili sauce. A combination of ingredients, some of which may be roasted, will provide a brown-toned sauce.

Asian chili sauces are available that contain various herbs such as basil and are flavored with different levels of sweetness as well as heat intensities. The sauces may be produced as red, green, or yellow mixtures that are also referred to as chili pastes. Typically, the Asian sauce or paste will contain more of an oil base (palm or soybean oil) than a U.S. or Mexican variety of chili sauce.

Mexican chili sauces are typically red in color, using tomatoes as a base, and are flavored with various chilies that contain a higher level of heat to provide a very spicy taste. Prepared with varying intensities of heat, from mild to extra hot, all types of chili sauces are commonly served as toppings for red meat, poultry, fish, egg dishes, and other foods that are often seasoned with a spicy sauce.

Mexican Chili Sauce

Defining one type of sauce as a traditional Mexican chili sauce is difficult because of the many different varieties that are made and referred to as a chili sauce. Mexican chili sauces are typically very spicy, very hot, and very flavorful. Many sauces are made with a tomato and chili base that may contain red or green tomatoes combined with a desired variety of chili pepper, such as jalapeño chili peppers. In addition, many chili sauces may have tomatillos added or consist of tomatillos instead of tomatoes. As a way to identify various sauces, it is common practice to name the sauce according to the type of chili pepper used in the sauce, such as arbol chili sauce, which refers to the use of arbol chilies as the key ingredient for making the sauce.

Mexican chili sauces are served with all types of meats, such as shredded and whole sliced meats. In addition, it is common to add sauce as a topping for sandwiches, such as when served with torta sandwiches that are usually covered with sauce. This is known as torta ahogada, which translates to drowned in sauce. Mexican chili sauce is also served as a condiment or topping for poultry, fish, shellfish, and a variety of other foods, such as meat place atop a bed of rice and beans. Commonly referred to as a Mexican hot sauce or a red chili sauce, a typical Mexican chili sauce often uses jalapeno chili peppers or red chili peppers plus onions and tomatoes as key ingredients.

Chimichurri Sauce

A spicy herb sauce or marinade that is served with grilled and roasted meats. With origins credited to Argentina, Chimichurri sauce generally consists of water, salt, garlic, parsley, oregano, pepper, red chili peppers, lemon zest, red or white-wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. There are numerous versions of this sauce that range from tangy and spicy to tart and somewhat sweet. Chimichurri sauce can be used as a basting sauce for fish, shellfish, poultry, beef, and pork, or it can be used as a dipping sauce after the food has been cooked.

Taco Sauce

A spicy sauce that is used as a topping for the various ingredients that are inserted into a folded tortilla or taco shell. Taco sauce is available as either a red or green (verde) sauce. The red sauce typically consists of red tomatoes, tomato paste, green chilies, jalapeno peppers, and various seasonings. The green sauce often contains green tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, tomatillos, jalapenos, and seasonings.

Red Taco Sauce

Green Taco Sauce

Mole Sauce

Mole refers to a group of traditional Mexican pastes that are made into sauces that range in flavor from delicately spicy to very rich and spicy. The sauces are made with a mixture of ingredients that include onions, garlic, chili peppers, ground nuts (almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds), toasted bread or crackers, spices, sunflower or soybean oils, sugar, and occasionally a small amount of sweet chocolate (if the sauce is red mole). Mole sauce can be reddish-brown in color with a sharp spicy flavor or it can be green, which is known as green mole or mole verde. Mole verde, which has a milder flavor, is made with green peppers and tomatillos. Mole pastes are typically mixed with water or a chicken broth (1 part mole paste to 3 parts water/broth) before being heated and boiled. It is then added as a seasoning and marinade for seafood, chicken, pork, eggs or egg dishes, enchiladas, rice, refried beans, or tamales.

Mole Rojo (Red Mole)

Mole Verde (Green Mole)

Adobo Sauce

A sauce or paste of Mexican origin made with ground chili peppers, sesame seeds, peanuts, bread or crackers (wheat flour, salt, and corn starch), sugar, vinegar, garlic, pepper, and other spices. The ingredients are generally cut with 4 parts of water or broth before being heated moderately and served over poultry, seafood, pork, or vegetables. It is considered to be one of the traditional mole sauces that can be used as either a condiment to flavor foods or as a marinade to season and improve the taste of meats and vegetables.

Pipian Sauce

Pipian sauce is one of the traditional Mexican mole sauces that is served as a condiment or as a marinade sauce for poultry, seafood, pork, and vegetable dishes. It is a puréed seed sauce consisting of vegetable or soybean oil, onions, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), peanuts, sesame seeds, chili peppers, garlic cloves, and other seasonings.

Known simply as pipian sauce when it is prepared as a reddish-brown sauce, it is also known as green pipian, pipian verde, or mole verde when prepared as a green sauce. It is not to be confused with the red mole (mole rojo), which is a little spicier and contains red peppers (and sometimes sweet chocolate as well), while the green variety is made with tomatillos and green peppers. The ingredients of pipian sauce recipes may vary, such as substituting almonds for the pumpkin seeds or adding more herbs to enhance the flavor.

Pepper Sauce

A spicy hot sauce seasoned with cayenne peppers, chili peppers, or peppercorns. It is used as a condiment for many foods, such as meats, chicken, and fish, or it can be added to other foods, such as marinades, beverages, dips, chili, casseroles, or other sauces, when a spicy flavor is desired.

Picante Sauce

A tomato-based Mexican sauce made of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions. Picante is a sauce that is very similar to salsa, except that it is thinner and smoother in consistency (not as chunky). Picante sauce is available as a red sauce or as a green (verde) sauce, either of which can be mild to very hot depending on the types of spices that are added.

Red Picante Sauce

Green (Verde) Picante Sauce

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