I recently came across the cookbook South American Grill by Rachael Lane during a visit to Barrio Books in Tucson. I was intrigued by all the South American recipes she had, especially her salsas, so I decided to try making Pebre.
Pebre is a salsa from Chile, very reminiscent of a pico de gallo, with diced tomatoes, chile peppers, coriander (cilantro), and garlic. Aji peppers are typically used with Pebre in Chile, but Rachael’s recipe allowed for any type of green and red capsicum pepper. I ended up trying an Anaheim and Fresno with the salsa, giving it a good, but not overwhelming heat.
What makes the taste of Pebre unique is the the mixture of white wine vinegar and oregano into the salsa. The white wine vinegar enhances the rest of the ingredients with its acidity. The dried oregano gets added last to the salsa, helping round out all the flavors. These two ingredients also give the Pebre a very fresh and pleasant aroma.
I also learned a very interesting preparation technique for white onions from Rachael’s recipe. She soaks the diced white onion in cold water for 15 minutes, as a way to help mellow the onion flavor. I had never tried this method before, but will start using it more often. The salsa had a very minimal onion taste, allowing for the rest of the ingredients to take over your taste buds.
According to Rachael’s book, Pebre goes best with grilled meats and bread. I enjoyed using it on top of my omelet as well as on quesadillas, after my family and I ate most of this addictive salsa as a snack.