Dubai chef Roberto Segura tells us all about aji amarillo
He says it's Peru's most important ingredient
Peruvian chef and F&B consultant Roberto Segura, formerly the head chef of Waka, tells us about the Peruvian chilli.
What is aji amarillo?
Aji means chilli pepper, and amarillo is yellow in Spanish, so we have yellow chilli as a result. It sounds simple, but is not simple at all, it actually is the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking, and I’m confident that without aji amarillo is impossible to have authentic Peruvian cuisine.
It’s flavour is spicy, however, you can also feel fruity hints similar to a grapefruit skin or passion fruit when used without seeds. I must say it’s not the most spicy chilli that we have and that’s why it's so versatile.
The growth of aji amarillo is relatively easy. Its origins are in the region of Áncash in Peru, and it needs the following conditions to grow: It takes around around 120 days, growth temperature 14 to 25 degrees at full exposure to the sun, and once the plant grows it reaches a height of up to 1.5 meters.
Uses in Peruvian gastronomy:
The aji amarillo is used in many of the dishes in Peruvian food, sometimes raw and cut in slices or brunoise, others peeled and seedless in sauces, and others in the form of a paste in the most important gravies.
One of the most popular dishes is called causa and is elaborated with a potato base mix with aji amarillo and lime. Another is the national dish ceviche with the aji amarillo as the star in the sauce. Another one is lomo saltado with the aji amarillo cut in thin slices and sautéd in the wok. You can also have it blended raw with onion, garlic, cheese, and bread to make the perfect huancaina sauce. However. you might find this chilli in almost 70% of our food, which is a lot considering we have more than 500 national dishes.
Uses around the world:
Many chefs not only in UAE market but around the world are getting familiar with the use of Peruvian ingredients, and of course I should mention quinoa, chia, cacao, mango, and asparagus as other Peruvian products that are being used in so many kitchens around the world. Aji Amarillo is no exception and in many of the dishes created by the 50 best chefs in the world you'll see this beautiful chili, even in non Peruvian dishes and that is the magic of this product. I,t is used by chefs all over the world from Australia to Ecuador, making it not only my favourite but the favourite of many chefs, home cooks and passionate young cooks to discover, taste, and experiment with this versatile product.
Where to buy it:
You can find it in Dubai as a paste in www.maxzi.ae, they also sell it whole seedless frozen.
The exportation of aji amarillo grows at 4% per year around the world, representing millions of dollars worth of chili and making this ingredient one of the best exports from Peru to the world.
Traditional uses include antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, and digestive benefits. Also it helps with problems of asthma, fever, and varicose veins.