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Peruvian Light Green Sauce - Ahi? (Aji?)

JoLi Dec 6, 2006 06:35 PM


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????


  1. bolivianita Dec 6, 2006 06:47 PM

    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
      Passadumkeg Jul 18, 2010 03:10 PM

      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. n
      Nettie Dec 6, 2006 06:59 PM

      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
        arhous Apr 21, 2007 10:42 AM


        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
          rworange Apr 21, 2007 04:48 PM

          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
            BoerumHill Apr 22, 2007 09:09 AM

            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
              Mike V May 25, 2007 10:45 AM

              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. k
            kenito799 Dec 6, 2006 08:03 PM

            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.asp?idreceta=73


            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. junglekitte Dec 6, 2006 09:51 PM

              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
                frankiii Apr 22, 2007 08:59 AM

                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. AnjLM Apr 22, 2007 09:08 AM

                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
                  relaxed May 25, 2007 08:46 AM

                  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
                    relaxed May 26, 2007 04:44 PM

                    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. b
                  beezees May 27, 2007 05:21 PM

                  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. p
                    pierostar Sep 20, 2007 07:24 PM

                    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. e
                      eglass Nov 26, 2007 03:08 PM

                      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. Cremon Jan 25, 2008 05:07 AM

                        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
                          latingringo Jan 25, 2008 10:25 PM

                          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
                            hungry_pangolin Jan 26, 2008 07:09 AM

                            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
                              latingringo Jan 26, 2008 11:41 PM

                              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
                                hungry_pangolin Jan 27, 2008 05:04 AM

                                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
                                  Cremon Jan 27, 2008 08:38 AM

                                  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
                                    la_Jorocha Jul 2, 2010 04:29 PM

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

                                    1. re: la_Jorocha
                                      Cremon Nov 22, 2010 05:48 AM

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

                            2. re: latingringo
                              dda21 Jul 18, 2010 12:59 PM

                              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. chef chicklet Jan 27, 2008 09:35 AM

                            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
                              Chile Head Jan 28, 2008 02:08 PM

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


                              It's super simple, no cooking recipe.

                              1. re: Chile Head
                                chef chicklet Jan 30, 2008 06:12 AM

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

                            2. l
                              latingringo Feb 8, 2008 05:55 PM

                              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
                                fame da lupo Feb 8, 2008 07:52 PM


                                1. re: latingringo
                                  paulj Feb 8, 2008 08:14 PM

                                  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. m
                                  mlahman Sep 5, 2008 02:20 PM

                                  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
                                    torty Sep 5, 2008 03:30 PM

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

                                    1. re: mlahman
                                      PhiPsi68 Sep 28, 2008 03:16 PM

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

                                      1. re: mlahman
                                        Cremon Jul 12, 2009 07:48 AM

                                        Thank you!!!

                                      2. j
                                        Jasper14 Feb 21, 2010 10:44 AM

                                        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. Passadumkeg Nov 22, 2010 08:35 AM

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

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