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What Is Hogao?

J. Airman
J. Airman

Hogao is a tomato and onion based Colombian sauce that is sometimes also called criollo sauce. An essential part of any Colombian food smorgasbord, it is commonly used as a dipping sauce or as a condiment to season meat, especially red meat. The sauce can be used on almost any savory dish, and is popularly paired with steak, rice and many other basic foods to enhance their flavors.

A condiment found at nearly every Colombian meal, this flavorful sauce is similar to a cooked dipping salsa. Ingredients used in this dish are primarily tomato and onions, but it also contains cilantro, garlic and other spices and ingredients. The color of this food varies depending on the color of the produce ingredients and spices used, but it usually ends up a brownish-yellow color when preparation is complete. Sometimes, hogao is blended into a paste-like sauce, while other variations leave the recipe chunky with visible vegetable pieces.

Hogao is a popular sauce to pair with hogao.
Hogao is a popular sauce to pair with hogao.

It has many ingredients in common with pico de gallo, or salsa fresca, a Mexican condiment made from fresh vegetables. Like hogao, this condiment also contains chopped tomatoes, onions and herbs, but hogao is sauteed in butter to caramelize the ingredients, which gives it a sweeter flavor that is something like sundried tomatoes. Hogao sauce often contains several different types of onions. Spices common to this sauce include saffron and cumin.

Hogao is so important to Colombian cuisine that it is practically required fare at any authentic feast. Without this sauce, it is not possible to correctly prepare many traditional Colombian dishes. Hogao is one of the 13 ingredients needed to make a traditional bandeja paisa, a dish known for its wide variety of ingredients like avocado, egg and corn patties. When served, bandeja paisa ingredients are piled together as a mass of food on a large platter. Other main ingredients included in traditional bandeja paisa include rice, pork and beans.

Like its neighboring South American countries, Colombia has its own unique cuisine. Food types eaten with hogao are ample, but common ones in this country include egg dishes, soup and meat. Soup is an widely popular type of food that is eaten in Colombia for any meal, including breakfast, and this sauce is often poured into prepared soup for the diner to flavor it to his or her taste.

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    • Hogao is a popular sauce to pair with hogao.
      By: Brent Hofacker
      Hogao is a popular sauce to pair with hogao.