Ají amarillo, the aroma and flavor of heat

Ají amarillo

Native of the Andes, as most of our chili peppers are, Aji­ Amarillo (yellow chili pepper), has a passionate love story with Peru and its food since ancient times. Our ancestors relied on salt and aji­ as seasonings, and when the pre-hispanic man wanted to offer a sacrifice to the gods, he fasted avoiding sex, salt, and aji­ for a few days.

Aji­ Amarillo is almost mild when seeded and ribbed before cooking, with a meaty and crunchy texture, characteristic acidic and floral aroma, and a beautiful orange color. It can be eaten raw or cooked. In fact, just diced, sliced, or blended, it is the base for many of our traditional dishes. When it is cooked in water you will have a hard time breathing, so it is wise to open all windows and doors to avoid the cough and irritation in your throat and in your eyes.

I always admired the cooks in cebicheri­as or restaurants, because they are immune to the aji effects. Their hands can bear the heat almost miraculously while working with many pounds of the powerful veggie every day. I still wonder how they do it.

If you are in trouble after working with some aji­, just immerse your hands in regular milk for a few minutes. This really works. And NEVER touch your face, eyes or lips. But I doubt this will be a problem cause it´s hard to find it fresh outside of Peru. You will most likely find it frozen or in a paste. Either way, be very careful and adjust the quantity you use to your own taste, because it´s usually processed with seeds and veins, which can make it extra hot.

Interestingly enough, in Peru it has several names: Aji Amarillo, Aji­ Verde, Aji­ Escabeche, etc. We are working to standardize it and call it just by the most apparent name, Aji Amarillo.

 

Some recipes you can find with this ingredients: Causa, Papa a la Huancai­na, Ajide Gallina.

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