Picture yourself living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and having to order a meal. The first time I saw Pollo Con Wasakaka, a traditional and very popular Dominican dish, was on a menu in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I knew that “pollo” was chicken but what was a “wasakaka” and was it even something I would dare put into my mouth. I really shouldn’t have worried because it turned out that wasakaka is a savory parsley, lime and garlic sauce that is very similar to the Argentinean chimichurri sauce, and it’s often served with rotisserie chicken as well as being used as a dipping sauce for fried yuca and thick slices of fried sweet potato and it’s delicious!
I ended up ordering Pollo Con Wasakaka many times at small restaurant that was within walking distance of the Jaragua Hotel where my husband and I were living in Santo Domingo. The restaurant had an open air dining room that looked out at the busy traffic on Ave. Independencia, certainly not very atmospheric but it was very popular with the locals. That’s because the restaurant’s specialty was their delicious rotisserie chicken. The chicken had a hint of wood smoke, its skin was crispy and golden brown and the meat was juicy and tender. It was always served with wasakaka which gave the chicken a great flavor. You could order either dark or white meat and the chicken came with a choice of sides such as rice, beans, yuca, Russian potato salad, or tomato salad. It was a simple, inexpensive and yet delicious meal.
Thinking of our time spent in the Dominican Republic, I decided to make my own version of this traditional dish using chicken breasts which I grilled and served with a wasakaka sauce. If the weather is good where you live, head outside, fire up the grill and make pollo con wasakaka. If you don’t happen to have a grill, the chicken can also be cooked on a grill pan. If you really don’t feel like cooking, just buy a rotisserie chicken and make the sauce. It will take just minutes to put a tasty and typical Dominican meal on the table.
Pollo Con Wasakaka (Chicken With Green Sauce)
Serves two, adjust the recipe accordingly
- 2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- 1/4 c. fresh parsley, stems removed
- 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 c. water, optional (the sauce I had in the Dominican Republic was thinner than I make, Dominicans like to thin it with water)
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended.
Grilled Chicken Breasts
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 tsp. each of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper
Combine the oil, lime juice and the seasonings in a shallow dish and stir well. Add the chicken breasts to the marinade, turn to coat and then let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning once.
In the meantime, preheat your grill (set one zone on med. high and one on medium) for about 15 minutes until hot. Place the chicken breasts (presentation side down) on the high heat zone and cook for 3 to 5 minutes with the lid down, depending on how hot your grill is. Move to the medium zone for another 3 to 5 minutes until done and the juices run clear. The trick to getting good grill marks is to turn the meat as little as possible. When the chicken breasts are done remove from the grill. Let stand covered for about 5 minutes before serving so that the juices redistribute.
Serve the grilled chicken breasts with a drizzle of the wasakaka on top and serve the remainder of the sauce at the table.
Pollo con wasakaka is easy to prepare and delicious. The flavors of the fresh citrus, herb and garlic sauce is a great match with chicken as well as other meats and seafood. I can certainly see why many countries around the world have their own version of this sauce. It might be called green sauce, salsa verde, sauce verte, grüne soße, chimichurri, or wasakaka but each country’s sauce is similar in that it is prepared with fresh herbs.
Now as to being worried about ordering food you are not familiar with when you are in a foreign country, most of the time I’ve done just fine. That is except for when a chef came out of his kitchen to ask me, “does madame really want to order veal brains” but that is another story.