The joys of peruvian pepper sauce

March 23, 2008 at 7:40 pm (Dark leafy greens, Mexican & S. American, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, restaurant inspired, Sauce/dressing, Starches, unrated, Vegetable dishes)


ajiamarillo.gifI can’t recall if I’ve blogged about aji amarillo sauce before, but it’s worth a second mention in any case. This Peruvian sauce is simply a puree made from yellow aji peppers. It’s bright yellow, somewhat spicy, a little salty, and very flavorful. Actually, I’d describe it more as “piquant” than seriously spicy. The first time I had it was at La Feria in Pittsburgh. Although I enjoyed adding it to their various grain and cheese casseroles, and using it in place of butter as a spread for french bread, I was never really sure what to do with it at home. Then a few months ago Derek and I went to Madre, a tiny nouveau latin restaurant on the east side of Montreal. We weren’t all that excited about the experience (see our review), but there was one memorable dish with peruvian pepper sauce that Derek loved, and has been on my mind ever since: a duck “ceviche” with seared duck marinated in yellow pepper sauce, with onions, parsnip puree, and roasted corn kernels.

I finally found the yellow pepper sauce at the South American store on St. Laurent (and then later at the Mexican store behind Jean Talon market). The Mexican store also had the roasted salted corn kernels. Visiting Derek in Germany this week, I bought adorable French fingerling potatoes, fresh garlic, and a medium bag of spinach. I sliced five of the fingerling potatoes, and sauteed them in olive oil with a half of head of fresh garlic and a small red onion sliced into rings. Once the potatoes were almost soft I added about a 1/2 cup of yellow pepper sauce, and the spinach (leaves torn). After the spinach was wilted I sprinkled on some fresh thyme and a dusting of roasted corn kernels. I had meant to add mushrooms and white wine as well, in mimicry of the white wine and garlic saute from Kaya but forgot both. Even so, everyone really enjoyed the dish, even me! I couldn’t taste the thyme, and next time might try a more south american herb like cilantro. Also, I’d like to try using parsnips instead of potatoes. Either way, I’ll definitely be trying this type of recipe again, as well as looking for more opportunities to use this delicious yellow pepper sauce, even if I have to smuggle it into Germany from Montreal or the States.

Other ways I’ve eaten this sauce lately:

  • plain, as a dipping sauce for roasted brussels sprouts
  • mixed with yogurt and lemon juice as a dipping sauce for chickpea patties
  • as a flavorful addition to a sandwich, in place of mustard

If you have any other suggestions, please post a comment!

I’ve seen a large number of different brands of this pepper sauce: Goya, Dona Isabel, La Nuestra, various local Canadian brands.  If you can’t find it in the ethnic food section of a large grocery store, try to hunt down a South American store, or better yet a Peruvian or Bolivian store.  If you still can’t find the jarred aji amarillo pepper puree, here are instructions on how to make it yourself.

2 Comments

  1. Gretchen Noelle said,

    How wonderful that you enjoy aji amarillo! Thanks so much for linking to the instructions! Hope you are able to find other ways to enjoy the sauce as well!

  2. susan hoberman said,

    Thanks for the picture. That willhelp me find it at Central Market . I will also see if I can find a yellow Peruvain pepper plant for my garden(whatever that is?)

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