Posted: October 13, 2022 Author: Ryan Kukuruzovic, Corporate Chef
Ryan has 20-plus years of R&D and foodservice experience. His focus is on the design and implementation of diverse and innovative culinary visions with the highest standards of excellence.
Over the summer we spent a lot of time exploring the flavors and culinary influences found in Caribbean cuisine. The depth and breadth of which is amazing. Caribbean cuisine incorporates local ingredients layered with global influences. One of my favorite examples of this is a sauce in the Dominican Republic called wasakaka (sometimes spelled guasacaca, it’s pronounced the same.) Besides being fun to say, it’s a savory garlicky green sauce that’s one of the most satisfying and flavorsome one could make, and in terms of versatility, second to none.
Although wasakaka is a staple in Dominican cuisine, it has roots in the Spanish Canary Islands where this type of sauce or salsa is called mojo. Basic Canary Island mojos are a mix of finely chopped chiles – dried red or fresh green – spices, oil and either citrus juice or vinegar. Of course, there are riffs on the spice combinations and other ingredients. These mojos made their way into Caribbean cuisine via emigrants from the Canaries. Today in Puerto Rico and Cuba, versions of the sauce are still called mojos, while Dominicans renamed it wasakaka.
In the Dominican Republic, wasakaka is made with lime or sour orange juice, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Water is added and the mixture is heated until it’s reduced by half. Traditionally, wasakaka is used as an accompaniment to grilled meats, and rightfully so, because it complements them beautifully. But wasakaka is much more than just a protein condiment. Its uses are only limited by an individual’s creativity, and as far as their palate can take them. I’ve used it as a marinade for seabass and have also added it to Greek yogurt for a quick and flavorful finishing sauce.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Venezuela version of guasacaca. Similar in use – with grilled proteins – its most notable difference to the Dominican version is the addition of avocados. Onion, cilantro, green bell peppers, chili peppers and Worcestershire sauce are also commonly in the mix, making it reminiscent of Mexican guacamole.
The variations of green sauce spread throughout the Caribbean got me thinking about the universality of them across global cuisines. Wasakaka, like guacamole in Mexico, chimichurri in Argentina, pesto in Italy and green chutney in India, is a much-loved condiment that’s deliciously versatile. Each region has its own green condiment made for dipping, saucing or flavoring.
If reading this sparked some ideas about developing your own version of a green sauce/salsa/mojo/condiment, let’s talk. Reach out to your account manager or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.