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Peruvian Light Green Sauce - Ahi? (Aji?)

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Hoping you guys can help me with my quest. I just got back from eating an amazing lunch at this Peruvian resto in Stamford (Fiesta) and want to know what sauce was served with the bread.

It was light green in color and when I asked the waitress what it was, she said aji (spl?). If I had to guess, I think there might have been sour cream (lighter consistency), garlic, chili peppers (it was a little spicy), parsley and cilantro? It was served with the bread, but we ended up putting it on all the food ;)

Anyone know what I"m talking about? And do you have a recipe you'd like to share????


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  1. I am not sure but I think it has green aji's and tomato along with parsley and or cilantro. Don't think there is any dairy but again I can't be sure. A similar sauce is served in bolivia that uses the above mentioned ing. except it includes an herb called huacataya "black mint" instead of parsley or cilantro. In Bolivia it is called llagua.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bolivianita

      Bolivinita, I lived in Bolivia for 4 years and miss my llagua & saltenas! Do you know of a source huacataya in the US?
      Send me an email if you wish, it is in my profile.

    2. I doubt that this answers your question, but I found an interesting web page about Peruvian peppers when I searched the web:

      4 Replies
      1. re: Nettie


        Have you ever been in a Peruvian restaurant in Queens which is called PIO PIO. I used to live there and I realy like the green sauce, when I ask the name of the sauce, they never tell me. I thougt you might know it. They serve with chicken but you can use for every food. it is very hot ,and light green. I am noot living in NY anymore, I really miss that sauce. Anyone know what I"m talking about? And do you have a recipe you'd like to share?

        Thank you so much!!!!

        1. re: arhous

          Haven't been there but as most of these replies have mentioned, it probably contains huacataya "black mint". Stores that carry Peruvian groceries usually have the bottled sauce. You could give that a try and see if it matches the taste of that sauce you liked. If you need them, I have a link for an online source for Peruvian groceries.

          1. re: arhous

            lol yeah they keep that recipe a big secret! there are lots of recipes for the mystery green sauce on the internet, but i have yet to try one out. there is also a similar sauce at sophie's cuban restaurant. this is one recipe i'd like to try http://rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com/...

            1. re: arhous

              Arhous: Pio Pio won't give you the ingredients but they now sell it for $5 for a generous portion. They've expanded and now have a take out/eat eat store two doors down from the restaurant.

          2. I don't know the exact components of the green aji sauce you had but typically Peruvian chilis called aji amarillo (or another variety, aji mirasol) are blended with the "black mint" mentioned above, called huacatay in Peru, and often fresh (farmer's or Mexican-type) cheese. example: http://www.bigoven.com/recipe933
            Huacatay grows like a weed in my friend's backyard in Queens, planted from seeds brought from Peru; it either reseeds itself or is a perennial.
            Huacatay is also blended with a larger concentration of fresh cheese to make the sauce to cover potatoes for papas a la huacaina. (example: http://www.yanuq.com/english/buscador...


            If you don't have access to fresh huacatay, it can be found ground up in jars in Latin American markets. The same goes for aji amarillo. The supermarket chain Western Beef ( http://www.westernbeef.com/ ) has a large selection of Peruvian canned goods at their branch in Flushing, NY (on College Point Blvd). Frozen aji amarillos are available at some Latin American markets in Jackson Heights, Queens; I have gotten them at a large market on Junction Blvd and 37th Ave, along with a host of other Peruvian ingredients. Here's a source: http://www.adrianascaravan.com/conten...

            I have not seen fresh huacatay for sale although I haven't looked since we have access to an endless supply from the backyard!

            1. i wondered the same thing recently at a peruvian restaurant so i asked the server.

              its mayonnaise and jalapeno mixed together. no wonder its so good.;)

              1 Reply
              1. re: junglekitte

                Daisy Martinez (Daisy Cooks!) made some Aji a week or so ago on her show. She made it with Serrano Peppers, Garlic, Red Onion and lots of Lime Juice. She also talked about it for a while and mentioned that, like Sofrito, there are lots of different ways to make Aji. She said something to the effect that it is standard table sauce (like ketchup) in Chile. I got the impression that the term "Aji" is pretty broad. I also beleive that it just means pepper in Spanish, but someone else can speak to that.

                I made a batch similar to hers a last week and have really enjoyed it on pretty much everything but my breakfast cereal.

              2. I actually just took a cooking class that focused on Peruvian food. Aji means chile in Peru. We used Aji Amarillo (yellow chiles) in my class and made a sauce similar to what you seems to be talking about. We made a recipe with twist (it was a nuevo latino course) for the Huacaina sauce. Ingredients are:
                2 Tbs. olive oil
                1 small onion, minced
                2 tsp minced garlic
                2 1/2 tsp ground aji amarillo (if you can find whole dried aji amarillo you can grind it up in a spice/coffee grinder)
                1/2 tsp tumeric
                2 cups milk
                6 oz. crumbled feta
                salt and pepper to taste

                saute onions and garlic in olive oil until transluscent, add aji amarillo and tumeric, stir for 2 minutes, stir in milk and simmer 3 minutes. season with salt and pepper. transfer mixture to food processor and blend with cheese to produce a smooth sauce.

                This isn't quite the traditional sauce (aka the feta cheese) but i was delicious served with fried yuca! if you added cilnatro it might enhance it even more.

                2 Replies
                1. re: AnjLM

                  Just ate lunch yesterday at the Inka Kitchen Grill in Palmdale Ca (1st time for Peruvian food - delicious) and I encountered the "Light Green Sauce", wasn't quite sure what to do with it, so used it to cool down the spicyiness of the maindish. Upon inquirey, was told its made from Aji peppers, mayo, lettuce, and other spices which were not revealed. Lettuce as an ingredient (which I hadn't seen mentioned above) makes sense, given its light green color, and almost watery texture.

                  1. re: relaxed

                    For a recipe of what appears to be the Light Green Aji Sauce that JoLi described above to start the thread (with no tomatoes, cheese, milk, mint, oil, etc, as others seem to have misinterrupted) go to http://www.grouprecipes.com/print/?re...

                2. Back home in Peru there is always ají amarillo sauce (simply called "ají") on the table. We eat it with every savory food. My grandma will even put some in her soup (which, I think, is a bit excessive). To prepare it, we throw some ajíes in the blender (stem, devein, and boil until soft if you have low tolerance for hot foods) with a little oil. The more oil, the creamier. Add lime juice and salt. The green ají that you find in the US is usually a huacatay-based sauce, which we often eat with pollo a la brasa. Huacatay is the main ingredient for our second most famous sauce (after Huancaína), Ocopa, which we also serve on boiled potatoes and eggs. frankiii (see above) prepared Huancaína sauce using feta cheese. I tried feta too, and found that its sharp taste overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients. I have not been able to find Peruvian style queso fresco (so delicious and light!), so have turned to the Mexican version, sold in almost every supermarket in SoCal. The sauce turned out so much better! Of course it is never as good as it is at home...

                  1. hello: this might be too late, but the green aji that we usually eat in lima is called: Huacatay......Huacatay is an herb, here you can find it in gourmet markets and they called Black Peppermnt.
                    You mix that with the yellow pepper to add some heat, garlic, some saute onions and evaporated milk. and enjoy it.....we usually eat it w/ the Peruvian roasted chicken(pollo a la brasa).

                    1. Hi there! I see this is quite an old post, but I have an "aji" recipe to offer. I was lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with an extended family which included several Peruvian folks who were nice enough to show us how to make this addictive stuff using ingredients that we can find locally here in New Mexico. 10 jalapenos, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 3 small limes (careful to remove seeds, otherwise sauce will be bitter), 2 T extra virgin olive oil, salt to taste. Simply chop the stems off the jalapenos, add to blended - seeds and all - and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until a nice emulsion forms, if necessary add a few more drops of olive oil. ABSOLUTELY fantastic, we put it on everything except the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Hmmm...it might have been good on the cranberry sauce....

                      1. I use this recipe and it is SPOT on. Believe it or not, all ingredients are authentic, including the mayo.

                        2 heads romaine lettuce
                        2 bunches of FRESH cilantro
                        5 FRESH Jalapeno or Serrano chilies, seeded
                        1/4 cup mayonaise
                        1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil (I use vegetable)
                        1/3 of an onion
                        3 cloves garlic
                        1 tablespoon lime juice
                        1 tablespoon kosher salt
                        1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

                        Combine ingredients in a blender. Add small amounts of water if it sticks and gets too thick to blend

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Cremon

                          The sauce you are talking about is Chimichurri. Cremon....you are posting a recipe for a North American version of the sauce. Peru doesn't have Jalapenos or Serrano chiles and both are far to mild in heat for this sauce. I am going to Lima on Thursday and will post an authentic recipe once I arrive. Cheers.

                          1. re: latingringo

                            I've never seen a chimichurri that contained mayonaise or lettuce. Do they actually call that recipe above "chimichurri" in Peru?

                            1. re: hungry_pangolin

                              as i said...it's a North American version. If you search chimichurri online that's the same recipe you get off the american food sites.

                              1. re: latingringo

                                Doesn't it seem that the addition of mayonaise rather defeats the 'purpose' of chimichurri (i.e., a sharp, freah sauce)? As well, the version I learned (from an Argentinian) has parsley and thyme, no cilantro.

                                1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                  A restaurant here in Atlanta makes theirs with Mayonnaise. Probably a very Americanized version, but it tastes good. But I am anxious to see your authentic recipe from Lima. Please post it here when you get back. Thank you!!

                                  1. re: Cremon

                                    Hi Cremon, I was wondering if the restaurant you go to in Atlanta named "Contigo Peru"?

                                    1. re: la_Jorocha

                                      Yes, it is. They have two sites here but that is indeed the name of the establishment.

                            2. re: latingringo

                              latingringo..NO Chimichurri is from argentina and is not at all what they are talking about..Peru has a its own sauce. and aji is very much what it is. I am from argentna and I lived and have been to Peru over the years. so I know exactly what you are both referring to.

                          2. I'm glad you asked this question, I have a favorite Peruvian restaurant in San Francisco and my first time there I had a wonderful experience. Our host ordered at least a couple of every entree, appetizer, sides and dessert. We were a large group, I promise nothing went to waste. It seems that there are different recipes out there for this sauce (doesn't surprise me at all) with some including mayonaise, lettuce and or, fresh bread.
                            Yet here is another~ have fun with this hunt!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              Here's the recipe for the aji verde sauce in the flickr photo.


                              It's super simple, no cooking recipe.

                              1. re: Chile Head

                                Thank you for that! The photo is almost illegal! And I can't wait to try it.

                            2. Ok everyone, I just returned from Lima last night. As promised I have a couple recipes...one for Chimichurri and one for Huacatay. These are just the base recipes and I've found from talking to people that everyone has their own twist to the base recipes. Enjoy.

                              Olive Oil: 1/2 cup
                              White Vinegar: 1/2 cup
                              Red Onion: 1/2 cup diced
                              Garlic: 1 teaspoon diced
                              Parsley: 1/4 cup chopped
                              Oregano: 1 teaspoon
                              Aji Pepper Powder: 1/4 teaspoon (use fresh diced Aji peppers if available. Adjust amount to level of spiciness you prefer)
                              Salt: 1 1/4 teaspoon
                              Black Pepper: 1 teaspoon

                              Combine all ingredients and let rest for a couple of hours so that the flavors can infuse.

                              1 cup Yellow Aji Chili Paste (Aji Amarillo)
                              4 tablespoons crushed Black Mint
                              2 tablespoons chopped green onions
                              Juice from 1 lime


                              Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: latingringo

                                  I've seen this black mint in jars at Latino shops, but haven't tried it.

                                  Note this chimichurri is an adaptation of the Argentine sauce, with a strong parsley component. this is distinct from the OP's sauce that derives its light color and body from pureed lettuce, and also distinct from a simple aji sauce that highlights the local chiles (aji).


                                2. Hello... I know this message is old, but I am new to this site. I am Peruvian and have grown up on Aji. My family makes it red or green. The ingredients is queso fresco, which you can find at almost any grocery store, aji peppers or jalepenos, cilantro, evaporated milk and vegtable oil. Mix all the ingredients in food processor or blender and add oil to adjust consistancy. It is so simple to make and we constantly have some frozen at all times. We put it on potatos, rice, and even eggs. Enjoy.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: mlahman

                                    Thanks foryour input. Can you give us an idea on relative amounts of each item. Also interesting on the freezing.

                                    1. re: mlahman

                                      Hey MLAHMAN, Can you send me the exact amounts for your Aji Verde please. You have the real deal.

                                      1. I had a sauce, similar to what you described, at a Peruvian restaurant in the Chicago area. I believe the sauce had avocado in it. Kind of like an avocado llajua.

                                        1. I substitute extra hot red or green Hatch chilem of which I have an abundance. Different color, but it does the job!