Sweet berry-like flavor with a hint of smoke…
The Peruvian aji peppers are so unique, even among their closest relations. For instance – the aji amarillo tastes like fresh tropical sunshine, whereas the aji panca goes to a deeper, darker place. It features a berry-like sweetness with a smoky undertone, and so it is with this aji panca paste. It’s used in many authentic Peruvian dishes and sauces to provide that wonderful sweet-smoke taste. But there’s so much more you can do with this chili paste. Try it with breakfast eggs or as a taco or burrito sauce. It’s also very good as the base for a steak marinade or simply as a steak sauce.
We love it, too, as a much milder alternative to chipotle paste. It’s sweeter and not quite as smoky, and at minimum half the heat to chipotle. If chipotle’s medium heat is not for you, the mild simmer of aji panca provides a delicious alternative.
Aji Panca Paste
- 1 pound aji panca chilies
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Preheat a large pot of water, bringing it to a boil. Place a large bowl of ice cold water to the side (for blanching).
- Remove the stems from the chilies, cut the peppers in half, then remove the seeds as well.
- In a frying pan or skillet over high heat (no oil), toast the chili halves for approximately 3 minutes.
- Remove the chilies from the pan and drop them in the boiling water. Allow the chilies to boil for 3 minutes.
- Remove the chilies from the boiling water and place them immediately in the ice cold water. Let them sit until all heat is removed from the chilies (1 to 2 minutes).
- Remove the chilies from the cold water and place them in a food processor with the vegetable oil. Process the aji until you reach your desired paste consistency,
- Place the paste into a sealable jar and serve immediately or - for best flavor - cover the paste and let it refrigerate over night to allow the flavors to meld.