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NOT Chimichurri

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I made chimichurri sauce by getting recipes from internet but what I'm looking for is something called aji, I believe. When I lived in Quito, Ecuador for a few years, my parents' housekeeper made it and I never tried to learn the recipe. It was served on the side for meats and was not liquidy like chimichurri.

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  1. The chimichurri that I know is chunky, not liquid. Perhaps it's the amount of olive oil and vinegar you are using? The basic recipe has finely chopped onion, garlic, parsley and oregano as well as salt and powdered "aji" which I think would be like paprika. Maybe you can substitute fresh peppers for the powdered?

    1. Here's a thread on Peruvian style ají sauce,
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/348806
      Is that closer to what you're looking for?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thanks for the info. I'm pretty certain there was no lettuce, mayo or dairy. Just chopped green stuff - parsley and ???, maybe garlic, little vinegar and olive oil, finely minced skinny hot pepper. Don't know if there was mint and/or cilantro. I think it's very common in Ecuador -- anyone familiar with this style of condiment?

        1. re: walker

          I had some last week in Cotacachi with a barbequed meat platter that was advertised as chimmichuri sauce but it was unlike the garlic/parsley/lime juice/salt versions I've made at home based on Argentininan recipes. This was sort of a smooth, light green sauce the consistency of mayo. It was so salty that I had difficulty determing the other ingredients but my guess was that the green came from parsley not cilantro.

          1. re: walker

            all the aji sauce I've had has been quite liquid. Thicker than chimicurri, but not thick. Of course, not that I've experienced all aji sauces!

            Anyhow, the key for real aji sauce is, not surprisingly, aji peppers. They are yellow-y green, mildly hot and have a distinct flavor. Get your hand on those and you are set. Try seeding and deveining a bunch, puree with some water, olive oil, lime or lemon juice and cilantro. Add or take out ingredients until you get what you are shooting for. There are many, many different variations of aji sauce, so not sure which vareity you are shooting for. But those main ingredients are fairly common.

            1. re: adamclyde

              The pepper you are referring to is also known as Rocoto (Peru) or Manzano (Mexico).

        2. As you know, "aji" is the word used for any chili pepper in Ecuador and Colombia.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I was hoping to hear from YOU. Thought you'd have a recipe of it for me. If I can't find aji peppers, should I use serranos, which are easy to find here in San Francisco?

            1. re: walker

              If you look for Rocoto or Manzano you will find it pretty easy to find them. If I couldn't find either & wanted to replicate the flavor I might combine Bell Pepper, Habanero and a little bit of smoked paprika.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                walker, the combined population of Colombia eats one chili pepper every 14 days. I make my hot sauces at home.

                walker and EN, I liked the salsa macha in Huatusco (just back): take just about any dried chilis--including japonesas, saute in oil with a few garlic cloves, blitz in blender, and voila!

                As usual, I brought back several bags of different chilis, a gift of a liter of coffee farm honey, three kg of white and black maize tortillas, coffee, cheese, and more than a kg of added body fat!!! Mexico lindo indeed!

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Where you able to try any of the regional specialties I alerted you about?

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Yes and no! We were in the field, often fed by the grace of coffee farmers and others. I kept the list w/ me. Have some photos for you.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Great I look forward to them.... hope my paisanos treated you well.

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              My son spent five months in Ecuador recently and says that aji varied from place to place (within Quito); there's not one standard recipe. As for peppers, it was usually not very spicy. He found it quite bland. (I think he lost ten pounds in Ecuador because the food was bland and he ate less.) Anyhow, you will need to recall the aji you used to eat and experiment until you find something you like.

            3. I think what you are refering to is actually llagua (ya-hua) Its made with peppers (all peppers are ajis-I would use whatever your favorite is) black mint (huacataya) substitute parsley or mint, green onions and tomatoes in bolivia. what you are describing sounds similar. the rocoto is a very common pepper in andean countries but so is the aji panca. they have very different uses though as the panca is usually made into a much pastier condiment. ajis defitely vary from regiobn to region so you'll just have to experiment to get it about right.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bolivianita

                oh, chimichurri is an argentine condiment, very vinegary and not much spice at all.

              2. I lived in Ecuador for a couple of years and we had ají on the table for every meal. It's pretty much the same everywhere from the Sierra to the Coast to the Amazon so I suppose you mean ají de tomate de árbol.
                The problem is that I've never seen tomates de árbol in the US. Translates to "tree tomatoes." Sold in all the markets and they do grow on trees, not on vines like regular tomatoes. Different flavor/texture from regular tomatoes.
                The other ingredients were one or more varieties of the local onions, cilantro, ají peppers, lime juice, oil, salt. Sometimes chochos which are like Italian cici (?). Sometimes a little regular tomatoes was added in addition to the tomates de árbol.
                The only things we ever used tomates de árbol for in my household for were ají and juice (not my favorite) and I'm really not sure what to use for a substitute. I'll think about it. Been a while since I've made it...