Salsa Golf

2005.Nov.01 Tuesday · 13 comments

in Food & Recipes

Salsa GolfBuenos Aires – As of today, Google lists 517 pages with references to recipes for Salsa Golf, a vividly pinkish-orangish sauce that is quite popular here and in other parts of South America. [Edit: going on 9 years later in October 2014, that number is up to 5,160, a tenfold increase, more or less mirroring local economic inflation. Not that the two are connected.] While the arguments over this sauce may not reach the level of the current arguments over whether George Bush, Fidel Castro, both, or neither, should be allowed to attend this weekend’s “all Americas” presidential summit, it is still the source of some contention. At it’s most basic, it is a mayonnaise based sauce flavored with tomato. The simplest recipes avow that one uses equal parts of mayonnaise and ketchup and blends them together thoroughly.

Variations abound, from different ratios to different ingredients. The most common addition seems to be cognac, or at least a brandy of some sort. I’ve tried mixing just these basic ingredients in various combinations, and bluntly, it just isn’t the same thing. The flavor is far closer to some sort of take on Russian dressing. But again, not the same. Russian dressing is a blend of mayonnaise, pimientos, chives, ketchup or chili sauce, and spices, and it’s name theoretically comes from the inclusion of an ingredient in early versions of the recipe, caviar. Many versions include something a bit spicier like horseradish. The dressing is probably most famous for its inclusion in a Reuben sandwich, along with sauerkraut, corned beef, and swiss cheese.

I’ve seen discussions of it being closer to Thousand Island dressing, but in my view, that’s way off base. Traditional Thousand Island is a mix of green olives, peppers, pickles, onions, hard-boiled eggs and “other” finely chopped ingredients that was invented in the village of Clayton, New York. A local fishing guide, George LaLonde, and his wife Sophia, used to whip this up at home to serve their guests after a day’s fishing on the lakes. The story of its fame…

 On one particular occasion, George LaLonde, Jr., was guiding a very prominent New York City stage actress named May Irwin and her husband. May Irwin, a renowned cook and cookbook authoress in her own right, was particularly impressed with the dressing and asked George for the recipe. Sophia La Londe, who created the dressing, was flattered by the request and willingly gave her the recipe. Sophia also had given the recipe to Ella Bertrand, who’s family owned the Herald Hotel, one of the most popular hotels in Clayton. May Irwin and her husband had stayed at the Herald Hotel during their early vacations in the island and had already tasted the dressing. It was May Irwin who gave it the name Thousand Island and it was Ella Bertrand who first served it to the dining public.

Upon her return to New York City, May Irwin gave the recipe to fellow 1000 Islands’ summer visitor, George C. Boldt, who was owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Equally impressed with the dressing and its flavor. Mr. Boldt directed his world famous maitre d’, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the hotel’s menu. In doing so, Oscar Tschirky earned credit for introducing the dressing to the world.”

In 1972, Allen and Susan Benas purchased the Herald Hotel and changed its name to the Thousand Islands Inn. Needless to say, Thousand Island Dressing is the “official” house dressing at the inn. The Benas now bottle and sell the dressing at the inn and on the internet.

So back to Salsa Golf, which has been referred to as Argentina’s national condiment (though I think that distinction probably goes more to chimichurri, the vinegar based herb and garlic sauce that is popular with meat and fish). I haven’t been able to find out anything about its history. It seems to have been part of the local culinary scene for all of recorded history. I have no doubt that it’s probably from the same era as many other mayonnaise based condiments, i.e., sometime in the early part of the 20th century. According to the ingredients on the bottle pictured above, it is a blend of water, vegetable oil, sugar, tomato paste, eggs, starch, vinegar, salt, mustard, and lemon juice (along with the usual sorts of stabilizers and colorants). I happened to have a bottle of mayonnaise from the same company, and the only difference in the ingredient lists is the tomato paste. So there’s certainly a relationship to the idea of mayonnaise and ketchup blended together, though tomato paste and ketchup aren’t the same thing obviously – and these ingredients seem to be the standard on the packaged versions of this dressing.

Personally? I love the stuff. It’s great on just about anything that you’d normally spread, well, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, or a combination thereof. Hotdogs, choripan (very popular local grilled chorizo sandwiches), burgers, steak sandwiches, you get the idea. Play with the idea and come up with your own version! I don’t think I’ve seen it available outside of South America, but then, I really hadn’t looked before.

—Edit 10/03/09— Long after the fact, but Rebecca Caro at From Argentina with Love recently wrote up a great post on the history of this sauce, well worth a read. And over the four years, that 517 google pages has expanded to 960 that reference recipes for it.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerking November 2, 2005 at 19:43

Your link to Sophia should not contain a “hyphen”
The file turns up at

Jerking November 2, 2005 at 20:18

Is the ” Salsa Golf, a vividly pinkish-orangish sauce that is quite popular here and in other parts of South America.” similar to the one that is “standard” for a shrimp cocktail in the U-K and much of Europe? If so, from my years there, it’s the one I’ve come to prefer…sans Horseradish.

Jerking November 2, 2005 at 20:40

You’re right. I haven’t seen it available in Canada either…Not even in stores that bring in a fair amount of British goods for expats.
A quick method I’ve used to approximate “golf salsa” is simply to take a dollop of commercially-available red cocktail sauce and mix it with mayonnaise until it’s pink. Stop before it begins to taste like bland coloured mayonnaise. A slight amount of sugar cuts the horseradish enough for me and many of my dinner guests seem to prefer it to the tangy cocktail sauce. It depends on your taste. It’s a substitute. Gourmet it’s not, easy it is.

dan November 3, 2005 at 07:18

Actually, try clicking on it with the hyphen, it pops up just fine, and since I attached the link with a cut and paste from the page, it is a valid URL. Since both work, I’d guess the inn has just bought the rights to both.

Your recipe sounds pretty much right-on. You could also go as simple as mayo plus a little tomato paste to taste, since that seems to be the only difference in the ingredients. As to the question about UK/Europe, I’m guessing that might be similar to what in Australia is called Salsa Rosa, or Pink Sauce. I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve seen a couple of internet comments from various people arguing both sides of it – some say it’s the same, or at least a close substitute, others say it’s not.

As with any cooking, especially as our global sampling expands, there are always at least as many if not more, opinions than cooks…

Jerking November 3, 2005 at 14:11

When I click on “Sophia”, here’s what I get: Safari can’t open the page “” because it can’t find the server “”.
Maybe it has something to do with Apple’s Safari, but I don’t know what.
Anyway, whichever website comes up, it’s an interesting link. Thanks

dan July 31, 2011 at 21:41

Interestingly, was just watching an episode of Man vs. Food, and turns out that Salsa Golf is pretty much the same thing as what, in Utah and Idaho they call “Fry Sauce” – ketchup and mayo blended in the original recipe, though these days there’s sometimes pickle relish and onions added, making it more like the Thousand Island dressing I talked about above. From the Wikipedia page on Fry Sauce:

In Argentina, a similar condiment known as salsa golf, or “golf sauce,” is a popular dressing for fries, burgers, and steak sandwiches. According to tradition, the sauce was invented by Nobel laureate and restaurant patron Luis Federico Leloir at the “Golf Club” in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
In Brazil, many fast food restaurants provide “rosé sauce” (equal parts mayonnaise and ketchup, sometimes with hot sauce added) alongside the traditional ketchup and mustard with fries and onion rings.
In Costa Rica, a salad dressing called Salsa Rosada (pink sauce) is served with a cabbage salad. The main Salsa Rosada ingredients are ketchup and mayonnaise.
In Flanders, Belgium, the mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup is known as “cocktailsaus”, often refined with the addition of some paprika powder or whisky. Mayonnaise and ketchup separately on a dish (usually fries) and topped with freshly chopped onion is known as “speciaal”. A mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, finely chopped onion and sometimes spices is known as “riche”, literally “rich sauce”.
In the Netherlands a variation of mayonnaise is served with fries which is calles fritessaus, it contains less fat then regular mayonnaise. In contrast to Flanders a frites speciaal consists of French fries, fritessaus, curry ketchup, and finely sliced onions.
In France, many Turkish restaurants and other fast-food establishments serve fry sauce and call it sauce américaine; it is also common for customers to request “ketchup-mayo”—a dab of mayonnaise and a dab of ketchup—alongside their French fries at such places. Both American sauce and the more thousand-island like sauce cocktail (somewhat similar to that of Iceland) can often be found in supermarkets, and occasionally also premixed “ketchup-mayo.”
In Germany, a popular product called ‘Rot Weiss’, meaning ‘red white’ is sold in toothpaste-style tubes, and consists of ketchup and mayonnaise.
In Iceland, a condiment similar to fry sauce called Kokkteilsósa (“cocktail sauce”) is popular. Originally, the sauce was used with prawn cocktails—hence the name—but in course of time, it became indispensable with French fried potatoes. However, Icelanders use the sauce with many other dishes, including hamburgers, pizza, hotdogs, and fried fish. Substituting sour cream for some part of the mayonnaise is also popular, making the resulting sauce thicker and somewhat healthier.
In Ireland the sauce is commonly known as pink sauce, cocktail sauce or burger sauce and is enjoyed as an accompaniment to chicken goujons, chips and burgers.
In Macedonia, liberal amounts of ketchup and mayonnaise are often served with grilled sandwiches, French fries, and the ubiquitous Balkan hamburger-like pleskavica.
In Puerto Rico, the sauce is commonly known “mayoketchup” and is prepared with ketchup, mayonnaise, garlic and a hint of lemon. The sauce is often used as a dip for sorullos and other fried dishes as part of the traditional cuisine of Puerto Rico.
In Québec, Canada, it is one of the standard sauces eaten with fondue chinoise.
In the United Kingdom, fry sauce is commonly known as burger sauce. Mustard is often added.
In Venezuela, fry sauce is known as ‘Salsa Rosada'(same as Costa Rica) and it’s usually served at parties with snacks like Meatballs, Pigs in a blanket and Tequeños.

There you have it, it’s practically universal.

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