Latin America is well known for it’s spicy, hot, flavorful foods. However let it be known that their cuisine does not acquire its famous flavor without a little help from a friend, namely the hot sauce, known in this case as Molho Apimentado. Malagueta peppers rank hot on the list of peppers and this sauce, as most hot sauces, can be used like the American version of gravy, on any dish be it turkey, rice, kale or stuffing. The hot sauce brings the different flavors of the meal together with one cohesive taste and many textures to give Latin American food lovers the taste they’ve been waiting for.
This Brazilian sauce is traditionally served over black-eyed pea fritters (acaraj, called accra in the West Indies), but can also be spread over other bland foods such as potatoes. It has an intense shrimp flavor and high heat. It is traditionally made with dende, palm oil, but I have substituted one with less saturated fat. Variation: Add 1 teaspoon minced cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to the paste.
This hot sauce from Pernambuco is commonly served in a small dish at Brazilian meals to spice up such dishes as feijoada and seafood stews. It features the malagueta pepper, that close relative of the tabasco pepper. Variation: Make a paste by pureeing the peppers, garlic, onion, and salt in a blender. Add the lemon or lime juice and stir well.
Restaurants in Brazil called churrascarias sell spit-roasted meats to order, and the skewers the meat is grilled on are actually swords. A churrasco is simply a Brazilian mixed barbecue, featuring beef and pork—but feel free to throw in a few sausages, as that’s the way it’s done in Brazil.
In northern Mexico, the chiles, tomatoes, and onions are grilled before making Salsa Cruda, so why not substitute some fried vegetables? Separately frying the ingredients and flavoring with cilantro keeps this from being a pasta sauce. Serve this with chips or as a topping for grilled meat, poultry, or fish.