The science behind the perfect salmorejo

Researchers from Córdoba University visit 750 restaurants to try to standardize the recipe of this cousin of the gazpacho

Salmorejo with a classic ham and egg garnish.
Salmorejo with a classic ham and egg garnish.

For 10 years, a group of researchers from Córdoba University has been trying to establish a basic standard recipe for salmorejo that could be used by a quality brand, and thus gain broader recognition for this traditional tomato-based dish, which is similar to cold gazpacho soup.

The research began in 2007 at the university’s Food Science and Technology Department. Their work has allowed an association called the Gastronomic Salmorejo Guild of Cordoba to suggest a core recipe consisting of one kilo of tomatoes, 200g of Telera bread, a local specialty, 100g of extra virgin olive oil, a clove of Montalbán garlic and 10g of salt.

A survey carried out in 754 bars and restaurants confirmed that this basic recipe was the general departure point for the salmorejo that is served to the public. “The survey covered more than 22% of the census,” says research director Rafael Moreno. “That is a big enough percentage to offer a reasonable idea of the uses and traditions of the dish in the city.”

Although salmorejo is served fresh and thus linked in many people’s minds with summer, it is not considered a seasonal dish in bars and restaurants

Researchers found that the average salmorejo recipe uses a kilo of plum tomatoes (66%), generally unpeeled (44%), 108g of extra virgin olive oil (61%), 197g of dry, day-old bread (46%), 5.8g of Montalbán garlic (44%) and 9g of coarsely ground salt.

Other interesting data concerning the dish included the fact that 79% of establishments garnished salmorejo with ham and 66% with hard-boiled egg, while 28% served it with a dash of olive oil.

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Although salmorejo is served fresh and thus linked in many people's minds with summer, it is not considered a seasonal dish in bars and restaurants. In fact, 78% of eateries feature it on the menu year-round, not least because in 50% of cases, it is among their three top orders at an average price of between €5.50 and €6.

Published in the journal Nutrición Hospitalaria, the research also found that salmorejo without garnish is low in calories and cholesterol. It is also a good source of water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins and monounsaturated fats.

Homegrown variety

Researchers are now keen to find out about the homemade variety and are carrying out surveys among shoppers and on social networks.

“There is a wide range of answers,” says Moreno. “People add beetroot, peach, cucumber, onion, pepper and raw egg.”

Between 15% and 20% of homemade salmorejo also features vinegar. “Now we are going to find out why the homemade recipe is so diverse,” says the nutrition professor.

English version by Heather Galloway.


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