Spicy! Get to Know the Peruvian Aji Amarillo: What is it and Recipes to Try

There are over 100 types of peppers in Mexico alone. But Mexico isn’t the only Latin American country to offer you a little bit of spice! 

The Aji Amarillo from Peru is sure to add plenty of heat to any dish. And you don’t have to take our word for it.

Read on to find out all about the Aji pepper and how best to use it in various Peruvian dishes.

What Is the Aji Amarillo Pepper?

Aji Amarillo peppers on stone table top
Aji Amarillo Peppers

The Aji Amarillo Pepper comes from Peru. In fact, it is part of their cuisine’s holy trinity, which also includes garlic and red onions.

It is a member of the capsicum baccatum family and grows all over Peru. This family of peppers makes up one-fifth of the country’s domesticated pepper families.

“Aji Amarillo” literally means “yellow chili” but this pepper isn’t always yellow. As it matures it turns bright orange. Aji Amarillo peppers measure between four and five inches in length and have a thick skin.

It measures 30,000 on the Scoville Heat scale. This is out of 50,000 so they are definitely hot! Although they still aren’t as hot as the Peruvian Rocoto peppers.

But these yellow peppers also have a balanced, fruity flavor. They carry hints of mango and even passion fruit.

You can buy Aji Amarillo peppers from Peruvian and Mexican markets. Or you can buy them online if you’re further afield! They are available in many forms; aji amarillo paste, dried, canned or fresh forms.

Plate of Peruvian Aji de Gallina
Aji de Gallina, traditional Peruvian dish

So how can you use these lovely yellow peruvian peppers? Aji amarillo is used in many traditional Peruvian dishes such as Parihuela, Aji de Gallina, Causa Rellena, Carapulcra and Papa a la Huancaina.

But here are a few other ways to use this versatile Peruvian pepper.

Aji Amarillo Pepper Dipping Sauce

Peruvian aji amarillo in white bowl
Peruvian Causa Ingredient, Aji Amarillo

This delicious sauce goes with almost everything and is a great base for any meal.

Puree three large chiles using enough water to keep the blender moving smoothly. Once blended, use a strainer to get rid of any last seeds. Or you can use half a cup of chili paste.

Add one tablespoon of feta cheese, one teaspoon of lemon juice and a pinch of sugar to your chili mix. Blend these together. You can add salt for seasoning but be sparing with it.

Meanwhile, brown four cloves of minced garlic over a medium heat. Once they are nicely brown, add the blended sauce and let this fry for a few minutes.

Finally, add fifteen ounces of kidney beans and reduce the heat. Leave this for fifteen minutes to bind the flavors together.

You can serve this sauce with chicken, pork or butternut squash. It honestly tastes delicious with anything! A garnish of cilantro ties the whole thing together beautifully.

Aji Amarillo Infused Rice

Here’s another great way to infuse your food with the delicious flavor of the Peruvian yellow pepper. And this recipe is simple yet impressive.

You will need ground, dried aji amarillo. This is also great because you can store it easily.

Choose your preferred rice and cook as usual. However, add a little dried Amarillo pepper to your water. This will help the rice soak up the flavor as it cooks.

After draining the rice, add a dash more Amarillo along with salt and lemon. You can taste test this to get it just right.

To complete the Peruvian dish fry up some red onions and garlic. Toss these in with the rice and you have the perfect Peruvian accompaniment for any dish!

Go Aji!

The Aji Amarillo is definitely one to add to your recipe book. So go ahead and enjoy its fruity, well-rounded flavor.

And for more ideas of amazing Peruvian recipes check out this list of the best Peruvian foods!

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