I have found a miraculous sauce from the land of Costa Rica. Lizano sauce (salsa) is a brown sauce that is apparently quite ubiquitous in the country. There are a lot of different variations that I have tried, and I am sure in Costa Rica they have a lot of regional differences. A local burrito shop has their own version that is a medium brown, and tastes amazing. I found out half moon bay trading sells a “Caribbean Condiment” which is excellent and close to the burrito shop version. I haven’t found a local source, so it is time to craft my own.
The sauce is rather strange. It has vinegar and spices obviously, but also vegetables. Not a sauced tomato mind you, but hearty root vegetables. I thought they were pickled, but I couldn’t find evidence of that. In first searching I came up with a recipe that is repeated a lot. I don’t know who to credit, and spoilers, it isn’t quite right. I will say that it has chilis, water, a bit of onion and carrot, 2T sugar, 2T lemon juice, 1T vinegar, 1T cumin, 2t salt, 2t molasses.
The results are pretty nice, but the first thing that strikes me is that it is too thin and has way too much cumin. I love cumin, but this sauce shouldn’t have much, it is a really dominant flavor. There are various ways to thicken sauce, so I will worry about that part later. Other than the chilis getting a roast and simmer, the recipe didn’t call for anything else to be cooked.
I bought some “Official” Lizano sauce from an internet supplier for comparison. It is pretty good, but isn’t as good as others I have tasted. Looking below, the color is much darker than mine. Digging deeper on the internet I found an alternate recipe that has more vegetables and less cumin. There will be a part 2 in the near future! I tried to marinate a chicken in the sauce and grill it. Due to an unfortunate flare up the bird was burned beyond recognition. It still tasted pretty good though.