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Peruvian Huacatay Salsa - Aji de Huacatay

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Peruvian Huacatay Salsa - Aji de Huacatay

Peruvian Huacatay Salsa - Aji de Huacatay

Marian Blazes

Peruvian-style pollo a la brasa, or rotisserie chicken, often comes with intriguing little containers filled with various colorful sauces. One of the sauces is typically bright yellow and spicy, made with the fruity aji amarillo chile pepper. Often there is a mysterious green salsa as well, with a unique mint-like flavor that can be difficult for North Americans to identify.

The secret ingredient that that special green sauce is the Andean herb known as huacatay ("wah-ka-tay"), or Peruvian black mint. Huacatay is actually from the same genus (Tagetes) as marigolds. Though it's easy to grow, it can be hard to find fresh or dried huacatay in North America. But jarred huacatay paste is often available at Latin markets.

There are many secret recipes for this salsa. Some people like to make it with queso fresco cheese and evaporated milk, similar to the peanut sauce called ocopa that is also made with huacatay. Others leave out the mayonnaise and simply make a spicy blend of aji amarillo and huacatay. A bit of lime juice or vinegar is often added as well. Your favorite pollo a la brasa takeout place probably won't be willing to share their particular recipe, but it's fun to experiment and develop your own special version.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 3 scallions
  • 1-2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons huacatay paste
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

 
  1. Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Heat the oil in a small skillet and sauté the garlic in the oil over medium-low heat until garlic is fragrant and just starting to turn golden. Remove from heat and let cool in skillet with the oil.
     
  2. Coarsely chop the scallions.
     
  3. Add the garlic and oil to a blender or food processor, along with the scallions. Add the mayonnaise, aji amarillo, huacatay, and cilantro. Process until smooth.
     
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add more huacatay or aji amarillo if desired. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
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