Salpicón – A Versatile Salad

After my previous posts about a dry soup and an enchilada sandwich, this meat salad fits right in as another apparent culinary contradiction, and has its own interesting story from the past.  “Splash” is the direct translation of salpicón, a solid word and dish which came to the Americas directly from Spain.  It is described in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy as a “dish of shredded meat, fish or seafood, with pepper, salt, oil, vinegar and onions”, and there is even a reference in Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” about the main character’s diet:  “Una olla de algo más vaca que carnero, salpicón las más noches …” – “A pot with more beef than mutton, salpicón most evenings …” This sentence is an allegory to describe the precarious situation of Alonso (Don Quixote): Since beef was a cheap cut compared to mutton, it means that his midday meal was already humble, and his supper even more so, as salpicón was simply the leftover meat, probably fixed by his niece Antonia, who, more than a dependant, comes across as the stern voice of reason along the legendary saga.

Salpicón was originally just chopped red meat and dressing, as described by Cervantes, but nowadays Spanish nationals would also think of a seafood salad preparation, and it might bring to mind a much richer meat salad in Latin America.  In Mexico, the basic recipe might look like a pico de gallo salsa fortified with shredded beef, but it is often doctored with other vegetables.  Its versatility makes it low carb, high protein and, although sounding as yet another contradiction, it may be easily transformed into a complete vegan meal.

Mexican Beef Salad – Salpicón de Res

Printable recipe: Mexican Beef Salad – Salpicón


1 lb (454g) lean beef, cut in chunks (such as stewing, skirt or brisket); cooked in water with a piece of onion, and shredded (save broth for a soup!)
2-3 medium tomatoes; chopped
½ medium onion; peeled and sliced thinly
2 tbsp vinegar (such as white or apple cider)
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp water
¼ cup cilantro; chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp vinegar (such as white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp dry oregano (Mexican or Italian, or substitute thyme)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 medium potatoes; cooked, peeled (optional), cubed
1 large carrot; peeled and shredded
1 can peas; drained
To serve
Lime wedges
Pickled jalapeños (try my homemade recipe, or canned)
Crispy tortillas (tostadas) or corn chips
Avocado; peeled and cubed

Gather all the basic ingredients; mix onion, vinegar, salt and water in a bowl, and let rest for 15-20 minutes.  In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients (prepare double amount if using extras):

001 basic ingredients

Arrange the meat in a salad bowl, then add tomatoes, cilantro and drained onions, mixing lightly:

002 drain onions mix ingredients

Discard liquid from the onions; right before serving, drizzle dressing over salad (reserve half if using extras), and toss; this is the basic Mexican salpicón:

003 toss with dressing

If using extras, add to the salad, drizzle extra dressing, and toss together:

It may be scooped onto a bed of greens, topped with avocado, and served with lime wedges, pickled veggies and corn crisps on the side:

006 salpicon at the table

For a vegan option, simply omit beef; the peas, corn and potatoes should provide enough protein for a full meal.  This salad is also gluten free, and any ingredient may be omitted, catering to diet restrictions or preferences.  Adding some pickled jalapeños, or a spoonful of their vinegary liquid, pleases those who favour spicy food, and promises to perk up even the most listless diner at the table.

Although it is getting cold around here, I thought of this salad because just recently, I ordered a Barbacoa bowl at the food court at the mall the other day, and it immediately reminded me of salpicón:

Mexican bowl at the amll

FUN FACT: In Mexico, salpicón is sometimes prepared with shredded chicken, but it is always a savoury dish; in Colombia and other South American countries, it may also refer to a fruit salad with a juicy dressing.  There are many videos on the internet demonstrating different versions of the sweet recipe, such as this one:

I am joining Tummy Tuesday hosted graciously by Mary @ Cactus Catz

I am sharing my recipe at Full Plate Thursday #457 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

I am joining Fiesta Friday #250 hosted by Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week  celebrating the milestone of 250 great fiestas with a crew of four co-hostesses: Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog., Jess @ Cooking Is My Sport, Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Judi @

21 thoughts on “Salpicón – A Versatile Salad

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