One of the main ingredients in Peruvian cooking is ají amarillo paste. And I don´t mean store-bought paste, even though you can find this product in many markets and stores. Cooks (both professional and home cooks) all over the country make their own ají amarillo -or ají panca or mirasol– paste on an almost daily basis, as it is a part of most of their recipes. There are those who don´t like to peel the chili peppers; others don´t blanch them and use them raw. I recommend that you blanch them because the peels will give the food a coarse texture and make it more acidic. If you don´t like the heat of chili peppers, blanch the peppers up to three times, changing the water each time. This will make a mild ají amarillo paste, but will keep the beautiful color and delicious flavor of these chilies. Use this paste in any recipe that calls for ají amarillo paste, such as salsa huancaína, ají de gallina, and causa.
Freeze this paste in ice cube trays, and keep them in plastic bags for up to three months.
1.- Start with ají amarillos, fresh from the market (or frozen if that’s all you can find).
2.- Cut them in half and discard the seeds and veins. To do this, protect your hands from the heat of the peppers with plastic gloves.
3.- Cook the peppers in simmering water for about 5 / 10 minutes.
4.- Drain the peppers and let them cool. Peel the ají -this is very easy to do, as you can see in the photo above.
5.- Transfer to the blender , add a couple tablespoons water or vegetable oil, and process until creamy.
Now you are ready to make most Peruvian recipes that call for this brightly colored and perfumed ingredient.