One of the best dinners we had in Costa Rica was at a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant in the mountain town of LaFortuna. Chinese-Peruvian food (aka “chifa”) was fusion cuisine way before “fusion cuisine” was even a phrase, and was enthusiastically described by many folks we met across South America as a culinary highlight. The Peruvian Yellow Pepper is a beautiful yellow-orange chili pepper with a nice kick and a fresh and fruity flavor, and Peruvian cooks use it in almost everything. (I might try to grow it when we’re back in CA.)
- 2 yellow Peruvian peppers (ají amarillos)* or 2 tbsp aji amarillo paste
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- ½ white or yellow onion, minced
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp unsalted roasted peanuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare peppers: blanch in boiling water for 1 minute. Shock in ice water. When cool, peel. Cut open and separate seeds from flesh. Set aside both.
- Saute onions, garlic, ginger, peanuts, and turmeric in oil until onions are golden
- Add water and, if you like the sauce spicier, add some of the the pepper seeds (if using fresh peppers)
- Bring to a boil, and simmer to reduce, and cool.
- Puree onion mixture with pepper. Add a little more water if the sauce is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle sauce in stir-fry or use as a dipping sauce for grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and/or hard boiled eggs.
*Note on preparing the aji amarillo: As with all spicy chili peppers, handle with care! Consider wearing gloves, and be sure not to touch your eyes after cutting the peppers. Spicy peppers have a component called capsaicin which can irritate. If you can’t find aji amarillo (fresh or paste) or you could substitute jalapeño or serrano peppers, but obviously the sauce will be a different color with a slightly different flavor.