A delicious Peruvian cheese sauce…
Peruvian huancaina sauce is a must for the delicious traditional potato dish papas a la huancaina. But this mix of queso fresco, sunny aji amarillo peppers, and onions has more culinary options that that. Use it as a veggie dip, as a side to salsa for Mexican and Peruvian meals, or pour it over cooked veggies as you would any cheese sauce.
Aji amarillo peppers provide a cayenne pepper level heat and a tropical-sweet undertone to the sauce. It’s a unique, summery taste making for one terrific alternative to typical (and often boring) cheese sauces.
In a small bowl, mash the chopped garlic into a rough paste.
Add the vegetable oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Heat the oil, then add the onion, aji amarillo pepper, and garlic. Sauté the mix, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and soft (approximately 7 to 8 minutes).
Pour the pepper, onion, and garlic mix into a blender (or a large bowl if using a handheld food processor). Add the evaporated milk, and blend the sauce until smooth. Crumble the crackers into the sauce and add the queso fresco, salt, and black pepper. Blend again to smooth (yet still relatively thick).
Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
No fresh aji amarillo? You can use aji amarillo powder (see it for sale at PepperScale's spicery) as a substitute. Start with one tablespoon of aji amarillo powder. You could opt for less (1/2 tablespoon) if heat is a concern.
Another option is to use one yellow bell pepper. The sauce will lose all heat (and the tropical-sweet undertone brought by aji amarillo), so it's not a recommended substitute unless absolutely necessary.