Salpicón: shredded beef and mint salad from Guatemala
If you’ve got a bounty of mint in your garden and have already drank your fair share of mojito cocktails, it’s worth whipping up this recipe for Salpicón Guatemalteco, a refreshing shredded beef and mint salad from Guatemala.
A traditional Guatemalan food served at parties and get togethers, salpicón de res is a perfect appetizer or side dish for a summer BBQ party as you can make it in advance and, unlike mayonnaise-based salads that have to stay super-chilled, you don’t have to worry about contracting food poisoning while transporting it.
It’s also low fat and low calorie and unlike chojin, a similar traditional Guatemalan food popular as an appetizer but made with chicharron (fried pork rinds) , it’s not deep fried.
You can find variations of this shredded beef salad across Central America and in Mexico, where salpicón de res Guatemalteco is made with an oil and vinegar vinaigrette and oregano rather than mint. But if you’re on a mission to use fresh mint from your garden , this version is one of our favourite traditional recetas guatemaltecas to make.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian appetizer, another easy Guatemalan appetizer to make is tortitas de ejote. Check out our recipe for Green Bean Fritters or Tortitas de Ejote Guatemalteco
Traditional Guatemalan Food Recipe from Chiquimula, Guatemala
I first tried salpicón de res Guatemalteco in the home of my husband’s best friend, Juan Carlos. His wife Idalia hails from Chiquimula, a sweltering but picturesque city surrounded by mountains near our family ranch in Zacapa, Guatemala. Her cool radish salad appetizer made an ideal midday snack and featured shredded radishes, which added extra bite and colour.
My sister-in-law claims that people who use radishes in salpicon are “piche” or frugal skinflints who are just trying to extend the recipe but I suspect it’s a variation that came via Nicaragua where radishes are popular addition to shredded beef. If you do use radishes, then omit the tomatoes or you really will risk being called “piche”.
What Cut of Meat to Use (Carne Para Salpicón Guatemalteco)
In Guatemala and Mexico, you can tell the butcher the dish you’re planning to make and he’ll give you the exact cut of meat needed for your recipe. In Canada, it’s not so easy. I used a blade roast for this salpicon de res recipe but you could substitute flank steak , brisket or any other cut of meat that’s marbled and tenderizes with a long cooking time at a low temperature.
Salpicon de res Guatemalteco is a traditional Guatemalan food served as a refreshing salad or appetizer
- 2-3 pound blade roast
- 6 cups beef stock or water
- 8 stalks of fresh mint or hierba buena
- 2 limes
- 3 T orange juice preferably bitter orange or naranja agria
- 1 large onion
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 4 to matoes
- salt and pepper to taste
Simmer the beef in a slow-cooker for 6 hours. Then remove the beef and chill it in the fridge. You can save the beef broth for caldo de res soup, just adding vegetables and serving it with rice later.
Remove the seeds and pulp and then dice the tomatoes finely.
Mince the onion very finely. You might be tempted to use a food processor to speed things up but don't give into temptation as it will change the texture of the salad.
Remove the mint leaves from the stalks and chop them finely. Discard the stems.
Remove the seeds and interior of the jalapeno pepper and mince the pepper into tiny pieces.
Once the meat has cooled, remove any fat and shred the meat into strips using two forks. Then dice the meat into as tiny pieces as you have patience for.
Combine the meat and chopped mint, onion, tomato and jalapeno pepper in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the lime juice from two limes, 3 Tablespoons of orange juice plus salt and pepper.
Pour the lime juice mixture over the meat mixture and toss lightly with a fork.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour and then serve.
Looking for more recipes to try from Guatemala? Check out these recetas guatemaltecas below: