Tart, fruity and sweet, and mainly composed of two staple ingredients, mayonnaise and ketchup, salsa golf is one of the most emblematic sauces of Argentine cuisine. It is also very popular in Uruguay.
What is the origin of salsa golf?
The main actor in the history of salsa golf is Luis Federico Leloir, born on September 6, 1906 in Paris and who died December 2, 1987 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Luis Federico Leloir studied medicine from 1924 at the University of Buenos Aires and obtained his doctorate in 1932. He then worked as an assistant researcher at the university’s physiology institute.
In 1941, he was promoted to Professor of Physiology and, from 1947, took over the management of the biochemical research institute at Fundacion Campomar. In 1970, he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
History tells us that salsa golf owes its invention to Luis Federico Leloir in Mar del Plata when he was a young student. Indeed, the official version indicates that, in the mid-1920s, the young student spent a summer in Mar del Plata, a city by the Atlantic Ocean, in the province of Buenos Aires.
It was a carefree vacation with friends, without even imagining that almost 50 years later he would receive the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Accompanied by this group of friends, Luis Federico used to go to the Golf Club, very close to the iconic Playa Grande beach.
One day, as he grew tired of eating shrimp with only mayonnaise, Luis Federico, asked the waiter at the Golf Club restaurant to bring all the sauces and condiments available from the kitchen.
Tired of the traditional aderezo (accompaniment) of mayonnaise, he tried a new mixture: lemon, mustard, salt, pepper, ketchup and some spices, which were provided. Leloir experimented with various combinations in the hope of finding the right one.
After a while, he finally decided that a simple mix of equal amounts of mayonnaise and ketchup was the perfect accompaniment to the shrimp. He then added a little Cognac and a little Tabasco. His friends who supported it decided to call it salsa golf, just like the place where it was invented.
From there, the reputation of salsa golf grew and quickly became commercial. But Leloir never patented this sauce and, as he himself said many years later: “If I had patented this sauce, today we would have a lot more money for research.”
Luis Federico Leloir, with an impressive resume as a doctor, biochemist, physicist, university professor, chemist, has pursued a most honorable and distinguished scientific career.
Today there are several recipes, although the invariable elements of the composition are mayonnaise, tomato sauce, in particular ketchup, mustard and, optionally, seasonings to taste such as paprika, oregano, cumin, etc. Worcestershire sauce often replaces Cognac today.
Whatever the choice or the spices chosen, salsa golf, this pink sauce spread generously on panchos (hot dogs), milanesas (schnitzels), pebetes, pebete de queso (pebete with cheese) or pebete de jamón y queso (ham and cheese pebete), and carlitos (grilled sandwiches) throughout Argentina was therefore invented by the famous Argentine chemist, Nobel laureate, Luis Federico Leloir.
The birth of sauces
The word salsa comes from the Latin salsus (salty) because salt has always been the basic seasoning in every kitchen.
Already in Mesopotamia, in the third millennium BC, then throughout the Mediterranean, the use of sauces served to season almost all preparations.
Garum, or liquamen (which means “juice” or “sauce” in Latin) was a sauce, the main condiment used in Rome from the Etruscan period and in ancient Greece (garos). They were fish flesh or viscera, even oysters, which had been fermented for a long time in a large amount of salt, in order to avoid rotting. It was used in many dishes, mainly because of its strong salty taste.
Garum was famous among the ancient Romans, but spices and aromatic herbs (mustard, coriander, cumin, dill, thyme, garlic, saffron or pepper) were frequently used, as indicated in re coquinaria or the Culinary Arts, name given to a ten-book compilation of Roman recipes created at the end of the 4th century, under the authority of Gavius Apicius, a famous gastronomist from the beginning of the first century.
In this work, it is already obvious that sauces and dips were a very large and important part of Roman cuisine. Without them, nobody ate meat and fish.
At the time, it was important for the success of a banquet to know the sauces and therefore the spices and, above all, you had to know how to accompany them with food. The sauces then changed the taste of the food, they made it more flavorful even if one could not say that their smell was always inviting.
Titus Maccius Plaute (254-184 BC), commonly known as Plautus, was a famous Roman author who said that the smell from sauces was similar to that from the mixture of sweat and ointments.
Pliny the Elder, in 23 AD in northern Italy, a 1st century Roman writer and naturalist, author of a monumental encyclopedia called Natural History, recalls in his writings that fresh mint, of which the aroma stimulated appetite, was combined in equal parts with lettuce to accompany fish or egg dishes.
In the 1300s, Guillaume Tirel, a French cook, who wrote the Viandier, the most famous of French cookbooks from the Middle Ages, helped enrich the preparation of sauces.
Subsequently, it seems that the Florentine cooks who arrived at the court of France with Catherine de Medici (16th century), also enriched the variety of sauces with the probable ancestor of bechamel sauce: lo bianco mangia.
Still at the court of France, Spanish chefs following Anna of Austria (17th century) brought Spanish sauce or brown sauce.
Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, commonly known as Talleyrand, a famous French statesman and diplomat, born in 1754 in Paris, was the main French politician and, at the Congress of Vienna held in 1814, before representatives of the Great Britain, the highest power of the winning coalition, he consoled himself by affirming: “England has three sauces and 360 religions, France has three religions and 360 sauces”.
The hottest sauces, used especially in professional kitchens, list the so-called “mother sauces” among the most important: bechamel, velvety sauce or white sauce, Spanish sauce or brown sauce, and tomato sauce.
Auguste Escoffier, a famous French chef, restaurateur and culinary author, talks about “the greatness of French culinary art” and presents an “aristocratic” version of dips from popular cuisine.
The majority of cold sauces from different cuisines around the world have helped enrich the flavors of home cooking, and can be said to be almost all derived from mayonnaise, also known as a “sauce”, like salsa golf.
What to eat salsa golf with?
In Argentina, salsa golf is used in the majority of salad, hot or cold meats dressings.
It is the main ingredient in the preparation of a cold meal, and the most popular, typically Argentinian combination, is hearts of palm and salsa golf.
Another famous variation of the use of hearts of palm with salsa golf is the Richmond salad, a salad created at the famous Confitería Richmond, a tearoom and a literary café in Buenos Aires. This Richmond salad, generously seasoned with salsa golf, is prepared with shrimp, apple slices, sliced hard-boiled eggs, celery, and hearts of palm.
The variants of salsa golf
In Brazil, it is called molho rosé.
In Spain, there is also a salsa golf and it is actually a mixture of mayonnaise with tomato sauce (there is also the version with ketchup) and its tone is lighter than pink sauce. It is eaten with grilled fish and seafood.
The Thousand Island dressing is the American version. It is made with mayonnaise and may include olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, cream, chili sauce, tomato purée, ketchup or Tabasco sauce. It is similar to the Russian version of salsa golf, called Russian dressing.
The American version also usually contains finely chopped ingredients, which may include pickles, onions, peppers, green olives, hard-boiled eggs, parsley, chili, chives, garlic or nuts and chopped chestnuts.
The cocktail sauce is often attributed to a famous English chef and food critic, famous in his time, called Fanny Cradock (February 26, 1909 – December 27, 1994), frequently appearing on television for cooking demonstrations. In reality, this preparation was already mentioned in the 1960s in the United States. It was intended to be served with seafood, especially shrimp.
In Great Britain and in certain European countries like France, the Netherlands, or Belgium, this sauce is made up of mayonnaise with ketchup, a strong alcohol (Cognac or whiskey), lemon juice and, often, Tabasco and/or Worcestershire sauce.
In Britain, this sauce is often called Marie-Rose sauce. In the United States, this sauce is very different in appearance and taste, since it does not contain mayonnaise, but is made from ketchup or chili sauce mixed with horseradish and lemon juice.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 5 tablespoons ketchup
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice
- 1 teaspoon Cognac or Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce optional
- Freshly ground pepper
- Add the mayonnaise into a bowl.
- Then gradually add the tablespoons of ketchup.
- Mix well for 2 minutes.
- Add lemon juice or orange juice, and Cognac or Worcestershire sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well for 30 seconds.
- Transfer the mixture to a glass jar and keep in the refrigerator until consumption.