With the heatwave in full swing, our little garden is brimming with wildlife and flowers: bees and bumblebees are fighting over the lavender and butterflies play tag along the path.
The sunshine has ripened our first tomatoes, and like the baby carrots and peas, the first handfuls are eaten straight from the bush. The rest will be used for a very traditional Chilean tomato salsa called chancho en piedra, in time for Ren Behan‘s Simple and in Season event, hosted by Sally from My Custard Pie:
Chancho en piedra is a popular Chilean salsa, made of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, oil, parsley and oregano, which is usually served in a mortar made of black volcanic stone. Chile’s geographical position close to the ‘ring of fire’ makes it one of the most seismically active regions in the world. The volcanic rocks have been used for centuries for mortars and pestles, which are used not only to prepare this salsa, but also to serve it in.
The dish translates as ‘pig in a stone,’ which is slightly misleading in that it doesn’t contain any pig. At all. The most interesting explanation for this name is that the word ‘chancho’, pig, is the result of a linguistic misinterpretation of the indigenous Quechua word for grinding, ‘chancar’, which over the centuries has turned the rather accurate ‘ground in a stone mortar’ into the now common ‘pig’ in a stone.
We have this salsa with bread or meat whenever we can get hold of some decent tomatoes; the quantities are approximations and depend on how flavoursome your tomatoes are, as well as how hot you want the finished salsa to be. My in-laws, for example, always have a couple of fresh chillies with their food, from which they take a bite or two at times, just to add a bit of spice…
Chancho en Piedra – Chilean Tomato Salsa
- 2 or 3 tomatoes, peeled and finely diced, with the juices collected separately
- some garlic clove, finely diced
- 1 or more small green chillies, cleaned and finely diced
- 1/2 spring onion, finely diced
- 2-3 tbs olive oil
- salt, ideally roarse rock salt
- fresh parsley, finely chopped
In a large (stone) mortar, add salt, garlic and peppercorns and grind them to a paste. Add the chilli and the tomatoes and keep grinding, but hold back the tomato juices as you want a paste rather than a liquid mixture. Add the oil before tasting it on a slice of bread. And another one, just to make sure …