(Please click here to read about this series of reposts of original posts from May 24, 2010 to June 12, 2010)
In the rain forest of the Amazon basin in northern Brazil, acerola is easily cultivated, and flourishes in the humid heat of the jungle. The tomato, on the other hand, even though it is native to the Americas is just not happy in the steam bath that is the rain forest.
On the principle of make-do-with-what's-available, inhabitants of that region, realizing that acerola share a level of acidity, a texture of pulp, and even a range of colors, have created savory sauces made of acerola that can successfully be substituted in most recipes that call for tomato sauce, including things like pasta dishes, casseroles and stews.
Although for most readers of Flavors of Brazil, access to fresh tomatoes and/or processed tomato sauces is not a problem, I thought it might be interesting to include a recipe from the website of a Brazilian Martha-Stewart-style TV show called Mais Você just to demonstrate how it's made. I've not yet made acerola sauce myself, but will make a batch in the near future, and share the results here.
Chicken breasts with acerola sauce from Cordel da Vila restaurant in the Vila Madelena district of São Paulo.
RECIPE - Acerola Sauce
2 lbs. (1 kg.) fresh acerola
2 quarts (2 liters) water
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a large heavy saucepan or stockpot, combine the acerola with 2 quarts cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Drain the acerola, let cool slightly, then blend completely in a blender, in batches if necessary.
Pass the resulting acerola pulp through a fine sieve into a medium saucepan. Add the parsley, salt and pepper. (Other flavorings can be added or substituted. Anything that you might want in tomato sauce will work here). Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring from time to time, for approximately 10 minutes or until the sauce in nicely thickened.
Use the sauce to substitute for tomato sauce in any savory recipe.