After too long of an absence, I had dinner last weekend at Saldivia’s where I ladled heaping amounts of their nearly addictive, rustic-style chimicurri sauce – a mixture of mostly olive oil, vinegar, bits of garlic, parsley leaves and short stems, oregano, I believe, and scattered red pepper flakes – over the fresh, crusty rolls to start, trying vainly not to eat too many slices before what would invariably be a big steak dinner. Then it found its way over the sweetbreads, which were terrific that night, the blood sausage, chorizo and a couple of different types of empanadas that had started the procession from the kitchen. When my main course featuring an entraña arrived with its smattering a chimichurri sauce, I instinctively had to apply some more to the always delicious grilled skirt steak, making it more to my tastes. And the chimichurri sauce made the accompanying grilled vegetables that much better, of course. I ended up leaving a few small puddles of sauce on the table as much and as greedily as I was using it.
The ability for this sauce to make nearly everything tastier has certainly been noticed by others. I read on a couple different sites proclaiming the incredible versatility of chimichurri sauce, including one that claimed it might be the most versatile sauce, period. I can’t think of another one that matches its utility off the top of my head.
Contrasting the chimichurri sauce at Saldivia’s versus the one at Churrascos, Saldivia’s hues toward the traditional recipe that is found in Argentina and Uruguay, where the proprietors of Saldivia’s hail, while Churrascos founders are from Nicaragua, and those restaurants use a simpler version that is used there, which seems to be an adaption of what originated in Argentina and Uruguay. The differences in the chimichurris are that the Uruguayan / Argentine recipe calls for the tastier flat-leaf parsley versus the curly parsley, uses red wine vinegar instead of white, and includes oregano and red pepper flakes, and probably more garlic, than the sauce at Churrascos. Those additional and different ingredients, plus a lifelong familiarity with the sauce, give the version at Saldivia’s a greater depth of flavor and versality. It’s just better at Saldivia’s.
Saldivia’s South American Grill
10850 Westheimer (between Walnut Bend and Westheimer), Houston, 77042, (713) 782-9494