Friday, December 21, 2007

Aji Verde (Peruvian Green Chili Sauce)

Aji Chili Sauce 4

I am so, so susceptible to food cravings. After reading Dylan of Eat, Drink, and Be Merry's post about Pollo A La Brasa's wood-fired chicken with a photo of their aji verde (Peruvian green chili sauce), I had to have some then and there. Since it was at least a half hour's drive in either direction to the closest Peruvian restaurant, I set out to make my own.

I figured Alejandro of Peru Food would have a recipe and sure enough I found his green Peruvian hot sauce. His recipe included just the basics -- cilantro leaves, jalapenos, salt, oil, and garlic. I wanted my sauce to be a bit creamier and thicker so I added mayonnaise. If you want to be really authentic though, substitute the amount of mayonnaise in my recipe with oil and keep blending until the oil becomes "mayonnaise."

The aji pepper is a type of Peruvian chili pepper, but the word is also used in parts of South America for all peppers. Since I couldn't find aji peppers here, I substituted with jalapenos. I also tossed in several other varieties of chili peppers just for fun. Obviously, adjust the amount of chili depending on your spicy tolerance.

For some reason, when I ate this right away, it had a nice spicy burn on my tongue. But left overnight, it just became a mild green sauce. As it's a sauce, I'm just giving estimations to start with. Add more mayonnaise or oil to adjust creaminess and thickness until it's to your liking.



Aji Chili Sauce 3


Aji Verde (Peruvian Green Chili Sauce)
Adapted from Alejandro of Peru Food's Green Peruvian Hot Sauce

For several dipping bowls of sauce, you'll need:
1 bunch of cilantro
As many chili peppers as you can stand. The recipe generally calls for about 3 jalapenos.
1 clove of garlic
Salt to taste, about 1/2 tsp to start
Olive oil, about 1/4 cup to start
Mayonnaise, about 3 tblsp to start (Substitute with oil and blend until it becomes creamy if you want to keep this more authentic.)
1/4 cup water

Optional: Freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar if you want a bit of tang.

Some recipes call for cilantro leaves only, but I threw in the stems as well to add some liquid to the sauce. I know cilantro is an acquired taste, so substitute with iceberg or romaine lettuce if you want a neutral taste but want to retain the green color.

Halve and de-seed the chili peppers. Make sure you wear gloves or thoroughly wash your hands afterward. And don't rub your eyes!

Aji Chili Sauce 2

Puree all the ingredients in a blender, food processor, or hand immersion blender. It's like making Pesto, start with the basic portions and adjust according to your taste. What worked for me was roughly those amounts. Add mayonnaise for creaminess. You can add water too if the sauce appears too thick. I've seen some recipes that called for white cheese or nuts, but felt those were too strong in taste since the versions of aji sauce that I've liked were light in flavor, with just an undertone of spiciness.

Aji Chili Sauce 1

Looks like an avocado health shake huh? But that green is loaded with all these peppers.

Serve with Peruvian Roast Chicken and bread for dipping.

Enjoy!

*****
1 year ago today, Food Choices, Fu Lin Chinese Restaurant, and Burrito-Sized Egg Rolls in Salzburg.

14 comments:

  1. I too became interested in Aji sauce after reading about it in EDBM's Polla a la Brasa post. I'm going to have to try this out for myself.

    Interesting that the sauce lost its heat over night. I wonder why...

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  2. WC--have you ever had the cilantro-y green salad dressing at Wahoo's? I really like it and am wondering if this is close. Either way, this looks yummy, I'll try it next time I need a dip

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  3. Whoa, maybe there's something going on in Dylan's post because I also had a strong craving for Aji Verde!

    How long does it last in the fridge?

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  4. I've always wanted to make this. So does it taste like in the restaurants?

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  5. Looks close to the real deal...what's next, chica morada? ;-)
    I love that dipping sauce I put it over everything I eat. LOL

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  6. One Food Guy,
    I have no idea either! But the initial spiciness was pretty hot. My lips were numb.

    Mary Ruth,
    I've never eaten at Wahoo's actually! But I imagine this sauce would make a good salad dressing too.

    Christine,
    Umm, mine was only in the fridge overnight. I ate all the rest of it the next day. :P

    Elmo,
    I thought I nailed the recipe. :)

    Bill,
    I always get refills of this when I'm at Peruvian restaurants. :)

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  7. it may just be a version of an aji sauce that my neighborhood place uses, but i found that this recipe, while delicious, didn't have the tang of the sauce that i usually get at the restaurant. so - i added a little white vinegar - about 2 - 3 tsp or to your taste as well as a generous helping of black pepper. the vinegar gives it a nice kick!

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  8. Joy,
    Vinegar would be nice. I like tart! After posting this, I was thinking some freshly squeezed lemons would be nice. I think I'll add that to the recipe.

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  9. Interesting to see your adaptation!

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  10. Alejandro,
    Thanks for the base recipe. :)

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  11. This looks fantastic, and I don't think there are any Peruvian restaurants I can visit. Can't wait to make it!

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  12. Lisa,
    No Peruvian restaurants around? What a shame.

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  13. ALot of these peruvian aji recipes need cheese and nuts so id suggest you so with them because thats what adds the creaminess so u dnt necesarily have to use mayonaise cuhs after about a day the flavor is lost when using the mayonnaise, if u wnt it to last put it in a bottle and if u wnna keep it for some time add alot of spices cuhs over time the spiciness will be lost and dnt add anything that will spoil.( cream, cheese, mayonaise) and that way u can keep it in a mustard bottle and not have to refrigerate it.
    (im peruvian)

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  14. Corina,
    Thanks for the great tips. I did wonder about the nuts and cheese in other recipes.

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