When you sit down to any table, anywhere in the 2,600 miles of national territory stretching from the border of Peru to the tip of South America, three things will immediately appear: bread (many times homemade), butter, and pebre.
Pebre, Chilean “salsa”, is the quintessential sauce found in every restaurant and home. The per capita consumption of this condiment is quoted in liters, like mayo, and no two recipes are ever the same. It always depends on the cook. However, there are some basic parameters for pebre that always include: garlic, onions or green onions, parsley or cilantro, green or red chili, paprika or oregano, vinegar or lemon, a few drops of vegetable or olive oil, sea salt, and usually, raw tomatoes. Pebre can range from a thin consistency packing a seriously spicy punch to the mild, chunky, and vegetable-laden.
Fresh yet pungent, beyond bread, pebre also adds some zing to humble side dishes like boiled potatoes, paila de huevos, scrambled eggs, and at a BBQ, choripan, grilled chorizo sausage on warm marraquetas.
This recipe is the result of analyzing dozens of pebre samples in Chile to arrive at what’s most representative—and also reflects my own taste. Actually, it’s a little excerpt from the cookbook I am currently writing on Chile’s cuisine, food, and culture.
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped (including green tops)
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chili, deseeded, deveined, and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon water
Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Let rest for 30 minutes for flavors to develop. It’s best eaten when freshly made although it will last 2-3 days in refrigerator.
Makes 3 cups.