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Salsa Fresca & Other Salsa Types

Salsa Glossary Page 4: Salsa Terms S~Z

Here you’ll find the difference between salsa cruda, salsa fresca and salsa roja, along with a variety of interesting sauces from different parts of South America. This is Page 4 of a four-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages. See all of our delicious food glossaries.


Pronounced SAL-sah, it’s the Spanish word for sauce of any kind. In the United States, salsa fresca is commonly referred to simply as salsa. However, with a modifier it can mean any type of sauce—salsa de chocolate, for example, is chocolate sauce.


Salsa Criolla the most popular condiment in Peru. It is similar to salsa cruda except made with the aji amarillo chile. Other ingredients are tomatoes, red onions, lime juice, vinegar and chopped coriander or parsley.


Salsa criolla. Photo courtesy


Pronounced CROO-dah, “raw sauce” or uncooked sauce. Like salsa fresca, it is made with uncooked ingredients: tomatoes, onions, chiles, cilantro and lime juice (other raw ingredients like bell peppers can be added). The difference in terminology is largely regional, although a salsa cruda is less finely chopped than a salsa fresca.


Salsa fresca. Photo © Waymore Awesomer | Fotolia.


Like salsa criolla, salsa de aji is a condiment found on every table. It’s made with the Peruvian yellow aji chile and cooking oil, from moderate heat to extremely hot. In addition to
meat and fish dishes, it is used as a dip for fried cheese sticks (tequeños), fries,
chips and other foods.


Pronounced ah-reh-KEE-pah, a sauce from Arequipa, a city in the Andes Mountains in southern Peru. It is often served with potatoes, which are indigenous to Peru. It is made with aji chiles, shrimp and hard-boiled eggs. Some recipes add nuts; this one uses cheese: In a large bowl, combine 8 dried yellow aji chiles, seeds and stems removed, soaked in water to soften, and puréed (or substitute 6 New Mexican red chiles); 3 Saltine-type crackers or water crackers, crumbled; ¼ cup ground walnuts; ½ cup grated Monterey Jack , ¼ cup vegetable oil; ¼ cup chopped onion; 1 clove mashed garlic; 2 minced hard-boiled eggs; 12 cooked shrimp, peeled and mashed. Mix well into a thick paste. Using a potato masher, drizzle in milk as needed to turn the paste into a thick sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Salsa de aji. Photo courtesy


Pronounced MAH-nee, a South American peanut sauce. Different countries use different chiles. One version can be made by sautéing 3 tablespoons of minced onion in 3 tablespoons of butter for two minutes; add 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño chile and 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped and cook until sauce becomes mushy. Then add 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter and mix well. Remove from heat and slowly add up to 4 tablespoons of water for a pourable consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Salsa di mani, a peanut salsa. Photo courtesy

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Last Updated  Mar 2021

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