Huancaina sauce, the cheesy and spicy cream that serves as the topping for the traditional Papa a la Huancaina, is one of those culinary tokens that enhance almost any savory dish. Similar to Salsa Criolla, in Peru we use this sauce, which is famously perfumed and colored with the one and only aji amarillo from the Andes, in any and every dish of our liking. It can be found as a dip for fried yucca sticks, quail eggs, or chifles at every party. Pour it over a large plate of smoking arroz con pollo, mix it with arborio rice to turn it into a risotto, or with quinoa to make an original quinotto.
Pasta with Huancaina sauce has become increasingly popular in recent years, and is now served in many restaurants, almost always accompanied by steak.
If the result is too simple for you, then you’re probably not Peruvian! You can stir-fry any veggies of your choice and serve them on top. This will give you a colorful and full meal.
- 6 fresh ají amarillo (or use ½ cup ají amarillo paste)
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup queso fresco, diced (fresh white cheese)
- 4 soda crackers
- 1 pound penne or any other pasta shape
- 1½ cups milk
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Parsley leaves to garnish
- Slice the ají amarillo in half, take out the seeds and veins, and chop. You may blanch them to peel easily.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and stir for about 4 minutes. Add the chopped ají and cook for 3 extra minutes. Turn off the heat and cool.
- Transfer the vegetables to a blender vase. Add milk, cheese, crackers, and salt. Process until very smooth, adding a little more milk if necessary.
- Cook the pasta in a saucepan with salted boiling water.
- In the meantime, transfer the huancaína sauce to a skillet and heat over medium heat, adding the additional milk.
- Drain the pasta and combine with the huancaína sauce. Serve in four plates and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley leaves.