Secret Ingredients: Aji Amarillo

Yesterday, I did a post about how much the use of Mojo de Ajo has improved my cooking and so I thought I would talk about some other “secret ingredients” that have improved my cooking over the years.

In Terry Hope Romero’s cookbook Viva Vegan I learned about Aji Amarillo peppers, I soon found it at Fiesta and it’s been a staple ever since. Fiesta has both the paste and the peppers but I have stuck with the paste because it’s just so dang easy to use. Aji amarillo is a pepper that is mostly used in Peruvian food where, as I understand, they use it in just about everything. It’s from the family Capsicum baccatum which is full of peppers we don’t use a lot here in the states. The only one I’m familiar with is the Peppadew. I have heard that this family is easier to grow here because we don’t have the same pests, ours go after bell peppers and jalapeno, but I didn’t have much luck this summer. Actually, none of my peppers grew so it probably had something to do with me and my inherent laziness.

The pepper paste is good in all sorts of things, one of my early favorites was coating tempeh in it and then grilling with it as I learned in Viva Vegan. But, adding a bit to anything that could use a bit of fruity, delicious, spiciness like corn chowder and salsas is great too. I learned that in Peru they use it in cheesy sauce and, truly, that is where it really shines. One of my all time favorite recipes is the Mac Daddy from Veganomicon and when I added some Aji to the sauce it really took the dish to the next level. Like, best thing I ever had level. Like, I can hardly even look at this picture because I can’t stand to remember how good it was. Other changes we made to the Mac Daddy is using miso instead of mustard, a bit of lime instead of lemon, adding more flour, and using panko on top in the final baking. In the picture below I actually used some old flour tortillas and it was just wonderful. 

So if you see some around grab it and start experimenting. I bet it would be just wonderful in homemade queso.


10 thoughts on “Secret Ingredients: Aji Amarillo

  1. dimsimkitty

    I found some of the red paste ages ago (it has been open in my fridge for about two years… I should probably get rid of it…), but I am very keen to find the yellow one. There are a few recipes in Viva Vegan using the yellow one that I really want to try.

  2. ameyfm

    I have never seen Aji Amarillo in any store around here and I have pretty much been looking since I first got my paws on Viva Vegan. Maybe when I come to Vida Vegan Con I can finally pick some up in Austin!!!! I am so intrigued by your variation of the Mac Daddy… it sounds amazing.

  3. veganinbrighton

    Ugh, I already love that mac but the idea of upping the flavour profile with miso and breadcrumbs sounds amazing. I wish I could try the aji amarillo too but we both know that it’d turn out awfully!

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