Ají Amarillo – The Aroma And Flavor of Heat

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.


  1. I have aji escabeche – is it almost the same as aji amarillo? It looks like it…


  1. […] – 4  tablespoons aji mirasol paste, or to […]

  2. […] when ready, a flavorful aderezo is added (aderezo is a mixture of chopped red onion, garlic, and ají amarillo, fried in a little vegetable oil). If you wish, you can also add one chopped tomato to the […]

  3. […] easy to prepare and will be ready in the blink of an eye.  If you are lucky enough to have fresh ají amarillo,you can learn how to make the paste for this sauce here . Otherwise buy it processed or frozen […]

  4. […] Start with ají amarillos, fresh from the market (or frozen if that’s all you can […]

  5. […] perfectly roasted turkey, gravy, lettuce, salsa criolla, and a varied choice of sauces: mayonnaise, aji amarillo, rocoto, huacatay, mustard, and the […]

  6. […] sauces are served at the same time. You may choose huancaina sauce, salsa criolla, rocoto or aji amarillo sauces, among many others. Some restaurants make a big event around their sancochados and their […]

  7. […] of seafood, or even chicken. Salsa criolla is always a side dish, and other sauces as well, like aji amarillo, rocoto, mayonnaise for the kids, or tartare sauce. This is a rustic dish, but depending on the […]

  8. […] the result of the fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cuisines, and the Peruvian touch is given by the ají amarillo, and sometimes by a bit of the even hotter chili pepper known as rocoto. The usual way of […]

  9. […] the beef for cheese slices, or simply making it without a filling. I love to serve this dish with ají amarillo sauce, with Huancaína sauce, or Salsa Criolla, but you can serve it plain and it´s equally […]

  10. […] preparation of raw fish marinated in lime juice, with the vibrant heat of aji limo, rocoto, or ají amarillo, the sweet contrast of sweet potato, and the crunch of our delicious giant corn, is nowadays […]

  11. […] every Peruvian loves, is a spicy and saucy melange of stir-fried beef bites, onion, tomato, and aji amarillo. The generalized enthusiasm for this dish is such, that it has resulted in a large number of […]

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