Like so many Latin foods, words, and traditions, the incarnations of what we usually call “salsa” are innumerable. As a Salvadoran, I grew up with Chirimol, which is kind of similar to what you find at mexican restaurants as “pico de gallo.” It’s easy to make, and delicious.
Cebollas, Limon, y Sal–these are a few of the strong sabores in chirimol, and they all work to balance eachother perfectly. No matter what the occasion, every family celebration I remember from my childhood featured chirimol. Whether we used it to put atop tortilla chips, or on the rice beside our turkey at Thanksgiving, it was always there. A constant flavor. I still have a hard time throwing a party without it, even if it doesn’t fit the menu at all.
I don’t think it’s about the flavors, at least not completely. It’s delicious, don’t get me wrong, but it’s no delicacy. What it represents, however, is hours spent with mis hermanas, with mi abuelita, with my mami, and my many nieces, dicing and talking, laughing, and singing. Usually we made the Chirimol once the party started, and as we each took an onion, some tomatoes, the cilantro, and the chile to dice, tears from onion fumes and laughter would roll down our cheeks. Tears are not an official part of the recipe, but like so much of my cooking, onion-induced tears inevitably add to the salty goodness of the dish!
I hope you enjoy this easy recipe at your summer barbacoas, and that you’ll share your favorite version of “chirimol,” “salsa,” or “pico de gallo!”
How to Make Chirimol:
Dice all of the following and toss together with salt, pepper, white vinegar (the cheaper the better) and lemon juice to taste.
1 red onion
1 bunch green onions
a handful of cilantro
as much or little jalapeno as you dare
It’s a simple recipe, and has a lot of room for individual taste. It’s impossible to give you exact measurements, because in my opinion, the vinegar should only be highlighted by the lemon, but some prefer the lemon to take on a larger role. Similarly, I like to have the amount of diced tomatoes nearly equal to the onions, but my sister swears that the onion should dominate.
Luckily, it’s also incredibly hard to mess up!
Chirimol is also the easiest way to make amazing guacamole–just add the chirmol to mashed avocado until it tastes delicioso and that’s it! I get so many compliments on my guacamole, and it’s so easy.
Also, you can toss the chirimol with a can of corn for a quick corn salad.
I saw this post in my Google Reader but had to come directly over when I saw that we’re talking about “chirmol”! My husband is from El Salvador, so that’s what we call it too. My favorite thing is to eat it with carne asada. The flavors compliment each other so well!
.-= Tracy´s last blog ..Papitas =-.
Growing up my abuelita and mami called it salsita. In Costa Rica, it is also called pico de gallo but I know when saomeone says so you want a little salsita, I am getting tomatoes, lemon, cilantro and onions. Que Rico!
.-= Carolyn G´s last blog ..My Ride Revisited =-.
I am from El Salvador also, so chirmol is a staple in our home as well.
We also include diced radishes! Yes, Tracy, with carne asada it is da bomb!
I can eat it with chips all day long!
.-= Marcela´s last blog ..Lemon, Strawberry and Chocolate Chip =-.
Growing up, we called it salsa. I did not know it was called pico de gallo until I was in my early twenties working at a hamburger place that served it. LOL! My mom was married to a Greek man for many years, so my Mexican heritage is a bit mixed-up for me. ) It’s a staple at all our family gatherings too! During Easter season you will see it served along with the roast lamb, hummus, and pita in my household.
.-= Catalina´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday ~ Proud Momma =-.
I’m also from El Salvador, and I was confused when I heard “pico de gallo” for the first time. My friend looked at me like I was the only person who didn’t know what it was. But, as I have met more people from different countries, I have learned more and more words. In my house we make it with carne asada also, but especially to mix it with ceviche.
Puchica… I was actually on a quest for something completely different. I then found this website …& then the title “You Say Pico de Gallo, I Say Chirimol.” I felt as though I stopped dead in my tracks. Serio.. pude oyier los frenos de un carro chiar. lol. This staple of deliciousness drove me nuts when often @ restaurants or friends’ houses they’d offer me ‘pico de gallo’. De mensa I though it actually had to do with gallos; so i’d pass up my delish chirimol unknowingly. Then kick my self en tu sabes que. Uy…si sere. N e who as a Salvadoreña-American…living amongst mainly Mexican(american) raza I thought they were completely different…pero at the end of the day it’s all the same thing. =) Gracias for putting this up. Much/Luv, “B.”
I could really feel your love for all things Salvadoreñas in your comment, Colocha!
I am a ‘colocha’ and hate that so many people don’t get it when I use that word to refer to my curls and have to make myself say ‘china’ or ‘rizos’ or whatever for them to understand me. Colocha just rolls of my tongue so much nicer.
Glad you found us!
You tambien soy una colocha, and honestly, was so puzzled when I heard “china”–que?! I love that you guys liked hearing “chirmol” in the post–no one, except other Salvadorenas ever know what I am talking about!
My husband, who is Mexican, insists that it’s pico de gallo and I am just being picky. But, that’s my right!
We have it at Thanksgiving too, right along with the turkey and yams, so I liked hearing about it at a Mediterranean feast as well!
Yeah, me too I grew up knowing the chirmol as chirmol, but here in North America is known as pico de gallo, because mexican style; but I still love it; taste so good is always there at the carne asada time. I love it
My family is from Guatemala and we also call it Chirimol…although I’ve always heard it pronounced “Chirmol”. My Grandmother always makes it to put over rice or meat but it’s really good with everything. She also never used peppers, I guess my family are all too chicken to eat anything picante!
i love el salavador food,would have any recipes ya might share with me?