Salpicon is a term used in French cooking to define a mixture of minced ingredients that are used to stuff canapés, roulades, rissoles, and croquettes. The mixture might also be used to stuff tartlets, croustades, timbales, and eggs. It is common for the ingredients to be bound with a sauce after they are diced and mixed and before they are used as a stuffing. The ingredients that are used in salpicon are commonly made up of a mixture of meat and vegetables. Salpicon sometimes incorporates fish.
Ingredients in a salpicon are commonly cooked before they are prepared as a mixture. In French cuisine, the mixture is sometimes used to create savory dishes and other times used to create sweet dishes. Savory dishes usually use meat and vegetables, as described above. Sweet dishes, however, are made with a salpicon of fruit and perhaps nuts. In these cases, it is common for the ingredients to be bound together with a syrup or cream instead of a savory sauce as with the meat and vegetable mixtures.
In addition to being used as a stuffing, salpicon is also sometimes used as a garnish. It may be used as a garnish on top of bread to make a kind of bruschetta or may be served along side entrees. For example, the mixture may be used on top of a piece of fish, chicken, or meat.
The term salpicon is also sometimes used to refer to a Central American shredded beef salad that is used to top tostadas and is sometimes rolled up in a tortilla. In fact, this kind of salpicon is used in a manner that is quite similar to the French version of the dish. The key ingredients in Central American salpicon are avocado, tomato, beef, onions, and chiles. There are a number of variations on this dish within Central America and South America.
As with the French version of the dish, the Central American version cooks a number of the ingredients before mincing them and creating the mixture. Some of the vegetables, such as the avocado, are added in a ripe but uncooked form to the dish. Also, as in French cuisine, the Central American version of salpicon is sometimes used as a garnish for meat, poultry, and seafood dishes. Many Central American versions of this dish call for lime juice, which adds a nice citrusy brightness to the mixture and to any dish that includes it as a garnish.