If you want to see a Colombian light up all you have to do is put hogao on the table and they’ll be happy. It’s as simple and easy as that. To this day, I have not met the first Colombian who does not know what hogao is or what it tastes like because we all grew up with it. Our mothers always made it for breakfast to serve it with eggs or arepas, or for lunch and dinner so we could add it to our soups, stews or beans. And it’s so essential that you cannot go to a Colombian restaurant, anywhere in the world, and not see it as part of the menu.
Hogao is a simple tomato and green onion sauce that cooks on low heat to let the flavors blend while the vegetables swim in their own juice. The word actually comes from the verb “ahogar” (to drown) and that’s exactly what you’re trying to do, letting everything cook slowly to get the best flavor and consistency. And unlike any other Latin sauces you may be familiar with, this one is not spicy at all. Like I’ve said in previous posts, Colombians are not big fans of spicy food and don’t usually add heat to their meals. If you are, then all you have to do is throw in a couple of hot peppers or maybe a small amount of pepper flakes, but it won’t be the traditional hogao that is prepared in Colombia.
And even though hogao is such a basic recipe and made all over the country, it still varies from region to region and from family to family. If you do a Google search on it, you will find recipes that call for all kinds of vegetables, oils and
seasoning. But to me, the best hogao is the one grandmothers have been making for centuries with what little they had, only the basics.
Feel free to serve this sauce to compliment any meal such as arepas, beans or empanadas. But let me tell you, serve it on French or Italian bread and it makes a fantastic appetizer.