Submitted by Liliana Hernández
Guasacaca is to Venezuela what chimichurri is to Argentina. If you go to any restaurant in Venezuela, and you order a hearty beef asado or chicken a la parilla, this velvety bright-green sauce will be at the center of your table, says one of our favorite Venezuelan home cooks Liliana Hernández.
There are other traditional sauces in Venezuelan, but this avocado-starring guasacaca is its best known and most iconic. “No puede faltar en la mesa,” she says—it must be served with a grilled meat dish or the meal won’t seem authenticly Venezuelan, she says. ”You will always find it on the table. The way guacamole is for the Mexicans, guasacaca is for Venezuelans.”
One big exception to the guacamole comparison: guasacaca is not a dip but a condiment to brighten grilled meat’s smoky flavors.
That doesn’t stop Venezuelans for using it in so many other delicious ways. ”It’s so rico, that everyone puts it on whatever they want to,” says Liliana. “There are Venezuelans who put it in their arepas, a little bit on their bread, a little bit on their pasta.”
A simple salsa made by blending avocado with cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, oil and vinegar, guasacaca gives Venezuelan food that authentic taste, she says.
When Liliana moved to Mexico with her husband and family, she found herself doing the unthinkable—she served guasacaca as a dip. It started because whenever she entertained and served tequeños—Venezuela’s deservedly famous appetizer made with masa wrapped around melted cheese and fried (mmm!)—her new friends in Mexico would invariably start looking around for something to dip the cheese sticks into.
“They were used to guacamole, of course. They are used to putting salsa on everything. They don’t like to eat their food dry, as we do in Venezuela. They would look at me, as if asking, ’¿Y la salsa?,’” Liliana says.
So she started setting out a bowl of guasacaca alongside her homemade tequeños—and both were gobbled up, every time. It’s not traditional, she knows, but her new friends and neighbors in Mexico loved it, so Liliana still serves it as a dip from time to time. But mostly she whips up big batches for parrilla parties—like the good Venezuelan that she is.
For more of Liliana’s authentic Venezuelan family recipes, try her life-changing bienmesabe cake, asado negro main dish for celebrations, handmade toasted corn flour arepas, reina pepiada and carne mechada arepa fillings, and her mother’s go-to ensalada rusa potato salad. All are delicioso. And be sure to check out Liliana on her YouTube channel Mi Show de Cocina, where she is working her way through favorite Venezuelan dishes.
Ready to try Venezuela’s famous guasacaca sauce for grilled meat?
Photos: Michelle Ezratty Murphy and Liliana Hernadez