Whether you’re in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru or even Uruguay, there’s one food tradition you can’t miss out on: South American asado. A term with two delicious meanings, “asado” is both a type of BBQ techniques and the actual occasion of having one of these weekend South American BBQs, where family, friends and even coworkers come together and use food to celebrate what’s really important: life itself.
Experiential travel is all about getting to know what’s local to your destination, and this local food tradition is one you don’t want to miss. Book your trip to South America with Surtrek, the leader in South American experiential travel, and their talented guides will make sure you have an asado experience you won’t forget. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
Well-done meat is called “cocido,” and contrary to American steakhouses, it’s the most popular way to have your steak prepared. If you want your meat cooked medium, you ask for it “punto,” and if you want it rare, “jugoso.” Other important terms to know are: “parilla” (the grill or open fire where the meat is cooked) and “asador” (the man grilling the meat).
Start with appetizers like achuras—the entrails and internal organs of an animal—as well as different sausages. There will definitely be chorizo, and probably some blood sausage, or “morcilla.” If you’re lucky, you might be able to break up that juicy meat with crispy-grilled slices of provolone cheese.
...and we’re talking about the cuts of meat. Tira de asado. Vacío, or flank steak. Bife ancho, angosto or lomito sirloin. Rumpsteak, called “cuadril,” along with nice cuts of meat like lomo, bife de chorizo, entraña and peceto, or eye round steak that’s usually braised and served on pasta or with roasted potatoes. In a traditional South American asado, it’s all on the menu.
But the real key is: don’t use too much seasoning! In an asado, no marinades or spices are needed. Instead, the high-quality meat is seasoned lightly using only salt and pepper. Real asadors know that every cut of meat needs to be grilled differently, which is why you’ll see them constantly changing the distance between the beef and the embers throughout the meal.
As much as they love meat, even asadors know you need something to pair it with to make it a full meal. Grilled vegetables are a given, and sometimes, you’ll see potatoes, too. Included in the spread are plenty of accoutrements to go with your meat, like mustard, chimichurri and salsa criolla, the recipes for which are usually passed down through generations of family members and never shared. Even more popular than meat in South America is alcohol; so at this celebratory gathering, you better believe you’ll be washing down your meat, meat and more meat with wine, beer, and more wine and beer.