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Magical Peruvian Green Sauce "Huacatay" Recipe

Please help! I have been searching for the Peruvian green sauce ever since I visited several restaurants in the Kendall area in Miami. The green sauce was served with the bread. It is absolutely delicious!

I have found numerous recipes with mayo, lime, jalepeno, lettuce, olive oil, mint and salt. These ingredients are not authentic as Peru does not use jalepeno or mayo in their cooking. I was told the authenic recipe calls for:

Huacatay - Peruvian plant
Aji - Peruvian Spice
Kosher Salt

Can anyone verify this recipe? Where can I buy the Huacatay or the Aji? Any help will be GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!

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  1. Keith, I'm assuming you're talking about "aji de huacatay". First - here's my recipe for it, we make it all the time in our restaurant:

    Ají de Huacatay

    1 rocoto pepper
    1 hot chile pepper (Peruvian aji amarillo is commonly used)
    1 cup of huacatay leaves
    light olive oil or another relatively neutral oil (corn, sunflower...)

    Puree the peppers and leaves together, adding oil until you get a smooth puree - it was less than a ½ cup. Add salt to taste.

    As to where you might find the ingredients in Miami, I can't help there, though it would be hard to imagine them not being available. Huacatay (which is, in English called "Amazon Black Mint") is used alot in Peruvian cooking and I know that there's at least a small Peruvian and Bolivian community in the area.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Casa SaltShaker

      THANK YOU SO MUCH, Casa SaltShaker! I am definitely going to try this recipe. I live in Southern California. I will see where I can get the huacatay leaves. Again, thanks!!!

      1. re: keithlca

        Latino groceries that carry Peruvian items usually have jars of huacatay 'pesto'.

        They also have aji - Peruvian chiles. There are 3 common types:
        rocoto - very hot, red, apple shaped (also called manzana in Mexican use)
        amarillo - yellow, medium heat
        aji-panca - dark red, mild (similar to the mild Mexican ones like ancho)
        They are available dried, jars of puree, and some whole canned ones.


        1. re: paulj

          Thanks for the info. I have no luck finding the Huacatay leaves or plant. Do you know where I can buy this plant or the seeds in Southern California?

          1. re: keithlca

            Have you done a search for online seat catalogs?

            Also this page might be useful

        2. re: keithlca

          there's this guy from Baltimore who sells huacatay seeds for about $7, shipping included. I think he gives you about 2 spoonfuls of seeds.
          I know huacatay grows just fine in California, I have a friend in SF who grows it in his backyard.

          1. re: peruseed

            Thank you so very much for the information! My friends got me some Huacatay seeds during their trip to Peru. Do you have any ideas how to grow them? Myself and several other people tried them without any success. Again, thanks!!!

            1. re: keithlca

              warm soil temperatures seem to be the key to germination: always use sterilized potting soil and grow under lights get started. Takes 11/2 to 2 weeks to germinate. the 24" spacing refers to garden planting, not seed spacing.

              Planting Depth:1/4"
              Soil Temp. for Germ.: 65-80°F
              Days to Germ: 6-14
              Avg. Spacing: 18-24"
              Days to Maturity: 105-120
              Full Sun
              Moderate Water

          2. re: keithlca

            Catalina's Market on Western just south of Santa Monica has it (in Hollywood.) They have most Peruvian spices there.

            1. re: magdazine

              Here's a link to the Yelp page for Catalina's Market. I bought a bag of Frozen Huacatay there as well as a jar of the paste:

              Los Angeles, California

          3. re: Casa SaltShaker

            huacatay is an annual Marigold, Tagetes minuta. If it goes to seed, it can evidently become invasive.

          4. I am sorry to say that both recipes are wrong, very close, but wrong.
            I am peruvian and the recipe is very simple
            Aji amarillo
            Huacatay leaves ( here is seattle we buy them frozen, don't use the paste becasue it has vinegar and different things added to it)
            evaporated milk
            cheese (feta)
            first you need a pan. you put there the aji amarillo without seeds or veins, then you add some peanuts ( natural not salted or anything) and then the huacatay leaves. you dont need any iol for this you just burn a little bit the 3 ingridients. when they are a little toasted, you put these in a blender adding the evaporated milk, a little bit of salt, pepper and the cheese. You start blending and then because it is going to be a little thin, you start putting crackers, regular ones ( no buttery or salty) until you see it taking a thicker consistency. then you try it and see if you need any more salt. This is the authentic recipe and it i snot a secret because this is how peruvians do it and we are more than happy to share it with the world!

            3 Replies
            1. re: chocdove

              ChocDove -
              Where are you buying these frozen? I live in South Seattle and have been trying to find some of the ingredients to make Peruvian food for a while now. I agree the paste is not as good. I'm also trying to find a good recipe for papas causas - in case you happen to have that in your back pocket too... ;-)
              thanks for your help!

              1. re: GrinPrincess

                I am Peruvian also and live in Seattle. Did you ever find huacatay? Thanks

                1. re: GrinPrincess

                  There is a store in north seattle called Plaza Latina. It is your regular hispanic store, the only difference is, this one is owned by peruvians so they have a huge vareity of peruvian stuff. I don't remember the address, but I am sure you can find it online somewhere.

              2. Hello dear friend.... I'm from Peru and I used to live in Miami.. that I know there is a place called "LA BODEGA" and is also a restaurant...(Kendall Drive) they have a little market with some peruvian stuff. It's so hard to find the fresh herb HUACATAY, because the plant couldn't grow up in this area, but I'm pretty sure you can find in JARS. The huacatay comes blended and definetly you have to make it with the YELLOW PERUVIAN CHILI PEPPER. Now I live in Palm Beach Gardens and I found a store that they have whole frozen yellow peruvian chili in little bags. To be honest with you I never tryed that sauce with bread like the way you tried before. I have a recipe calledd OCOPA A LA AREQUIPENA it's sort of like a PAPA A LA HUANCAINA. Well, that ocopa is so delicious (LIKE A DIP, but you have to eat it with boiled potatoes) and I'm gonna make it this weekend for my friends and family, I wish I could make it with fresh ingredientes, but that helps. The recipe is:

                3/4 cup of Whole Toasted Peanut.
                3 - 4 onces of Cream Huacatay (From the jar)
                2 - 3 onces of Oil.
                1 pound of White Cheese (Fresh white cheese)
                1 small onion chopped
                1 - 2 cloves of garlic
                2 yellow chili pepper without without seeds and veins.
                1 can of evaporated milk
                salt and pepper
                Boiled Idaho potatoes until tender,
                lettuce, Hard boiling eggs cut it in half, Olives.

                In a large hot pan, put the yellow pepper, peanut, onions, garlic. In a slow-medium heat let those ingredientes to get golden, stir ocacionally until the peanut started to get more than brown. Set a side. In a blender put: oil, with the milk and cheese. Blend the ingredients until gets creamy.... add the huacatay and the rest of the ingredients that you cooked in the pan.... blend all of them with salt and pepper as desired and served with the potatoes in slides and eggs, lettuce and olives.
                I tryed before this creamy ocopa like a dip, with corn, or hotdogs cutted in slides and my friends loved it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mperu

                  Inspired by this thread, and some other threads on Peruvian sauces, I just put together a light green aji sauce.

                  In the small bowl of a food processor (the type that comes with a mixer and/or immersion blender) I combined:
                  a small handful of dry roasted peanuts
                  a small handful of (stale) oyster crackers
                  2 pickled yellow peppers (from Chile)
                  large pinch of salt
                  2 scallions, coarsely chopped
                  some soft fresh Mexican cheese
                  2-3 leaves of Romaine lettuce
                  blend till smooth, taste, and adjust taste with:
                  a pinch of minced garlic
                  a splash of oil
                  a splash of vinegar
                  another pepper
                  blend, tweak some more.
                  Transfer to a storage container, and 'lick' the processor bowl clean.

                2. While finding the perfect ingredients is hard here in California, I make the following:

                  feta cheese, 1 cup
                  bunch cilantro
                  green onion tops
                  1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
                  2-3 serrano chiles, de-stemmed
                  water, only as much as needed to keep the blender running.


                  More chiles, more heat. Try other kinds for different flavors.

                  I use about a cup of feta, but usually eyeball it.

                  1. I have a recipe that I got from the waiter at a Peruvian restaurant in the LA area. He didn't give me measurements, but I have tweeked the amounts to my taste.

                    combination of cream and milk, about a cup and a half
                    1-2 aji amarillo chiles ( I get frozen)
                    1-2 tablespoons of Huacatay leaves (I get frozen, but the restaurant grew their own!)
                    Queso Fresco or other mild fresh cheese.
                    Thaw frozen and blend in blender.

                    I have never used peanuts but I bet it makes the sauce even better so next time I will try.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: zev khai

                      Hello Zev Khai

                      I live in San Francisco and I was wondering if you could tell me where you get the Frozen Huacatay leaves?

                      I am Peruvian and took my husban who is American to Peru and he just loved and Estofado de Carne en salsa de huacatay and he cannot stop talking about it. I know it is sold as a paste but it contains vinegar which changes completely the huacatay flavor. Thanks for your help!

                      1. re: vera_galil

                        Hello Vara galil:

                        Did you ever find out where Zev Khai buys the frozen Huacatay? or where to buy it ? I would really apreciatte help with that. Thank you!!

                        1. re: kathygrommesh

                          Hi kathygrommesh,
                          No.... unfortunately never got an answer :(

                    2. I realize that this a slightly dated thread, but the comment about 'not using mayo in their cooking' caught my eye. I have bought a Peruvian mayo; it comes in a handy soft pack with screw top. Great for packing in the picnic cooler.

                      Peruvian chef, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi includes a recipe for Mayonesa de Leche (Mayo made with milk) in his 'The Art of South American Cooking' (1991).

                      While mayo is not a part of Peruvian pre-Spanish cooking, it is just as much a part of Peruvian cooking as it is a part of Spanish cooking.

                      From a blurb promoting that commercial brand (AlaCena)

                      "Peruvians love their mayonnaise. They eat it with chicken, lentils, potatoes, corn, hamburgers--even on French fries. "

                      Including 'kosher salt' in a list of supposedly authentic ingredients is also a bit suspect.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: paulj

                        it's true! We Peruvian love mayoinnaise with everything especially with french fries!! When I came to the States and they would just offered me ketchup whenever I had a burger with fries I would always ak for mayonnaise and people looked at me like I was crazy!

                        1. re: vera_galil

                          Thank you so very much for everyone's input. I have been chasing this Huacatay recipe for nearly two years. I think it is called Aji Verde. Believe it or not, I was able to get some Huacatay seeds directly from Peru. The problem I am having now is the planting instructions. I live in Southern California and I have tried several times with no luck. My colleagues also tried with the same result. Please post a reply if you know how to grow Huacatay. Thanks!!!

                          1. re: keithlca

                            post your request on chowhound's "gardening" board.

                            1. re: keithlca


                              I just bought and already received 2 plants of Huacatay (also called Mexican Marigold or Tagetes Minuta) . I got them at Companion Plants at 7247 North Coolville Ridge Road, Athens, Ohio 45701, Phone 740-592-4643. I looked in Wikipedia and there is where I found the botanical name. It seems it is rather invasive. I paid $4.50 for each plant. Shipping is expensive, but if you want to grow it, it is easier than planting the seeds. Hope this helps.

                              1. re: keithlca

                                I have fresh huacatay growing and seeds if anyone is looking. tjlutze7@verizon.net After you plant it once and it grows and produces seeds you will have it growing every whereif you don't control it.Actually,it smells great out side.My wife is peruvian.I have Aji limo,aji amarillo,and rocotos growing also.I can't wait to see how they do.We are lacking bees.

                                1. re: tgardener

                                  Tgardener: I see your post is rather new, so, do you still have plants and/or seeds? I know it is a little late in the season but I would still be interested. Can you give me more info? Thanks

                              2. re: paulj


                                You are so right about Peruvians using mayo as a stapled sauce; just like North Americans like to use ketchup, or hot sauce in certain areas in CA , and throughout the west coast, Peruvians put it on top of steam or fresh veggies. Mayo to them is like ranch dressing is to us. Just as you mentioned on your post, Peruvian mayo does have a milk base...The mayo used is quite richer in taste and much thicker than the flavor we are used to here in North America. Peruvian mayo has a darker yellow tint to it; more of a dark beige compared to the creamy white we normally see. On my travels to Peru; no matter if it was the northern or southern part of the coast or sierra region, mayo was normally whipped up fresh for their customers or in some fast food joints, prepackaged just like ketchup and mustard. I enjoyed your post... Thanks a bunch... great observation.

                              3. Keith,

                                There's a Peruvian Shop that just opened in Glendale, CA: 1206 S. Glendale Ave. I'm sure you can get the ingredients you need there for Aji de Huacatay and other traditional Peruvian Dishes.


                                7 Replies
                                1. re: nh10

                                  Wow! Thanks for the info...I will stop by this weekend.

                                  1. re: keithlca

                                    Just wanted to know if you managed to get the ingreidants for the green sauce ?

                                    1. re: jingoist1962

                                      I finally got some Huacatay seeds directly from Peru, but have not been able to germinate the seeds successfully. I hope to stop by Glendale Ave to visit the Peruvian shop soon.

                                        1. re: keithlca

                                          That glendale store was not there.

                                          "Seeds of Change" sells the seeds, but they call it "nematocidal marigold".
                                          I got mine on Amazon.

                                          Growing great !!......about 3 feet tall by now.

                                          1. re: Freq Band

                                            Once you grow it from seed....watch-out....is is nearly a weed.
                                            It grows like a whirlwind, and re-seeds itself readily.
                                            From last year's flowering crop, I now have it sprouting in all nearby adjacent pots, soil, and cracks in the ground.
                                            Happy Days.

                                        2. re: jingoist1962


                                          Check out the following recipes for the huacatay (peruvian green aji sauce).

                                          I also suggest to visit the following weblinks; one of them shows you step by step some stapled peruvian recipees.
                                          Use freetranslation.com -- copy and paste --- then check out the other link for the conversion table.

                                          Provecho (Enjoy)!!

                                          SALSA DE HUACATAY
                                          (HUACATAY SAUCE):

                                          1 pound of fresh cheese
                                          ¾ cup of evaporated milk
                                          Huacatay leaves (handful; and add as needed

                                          Preparation: blend ingredients in the blender or
                                          in food processor; fresh cheese, the cream / evaporated milk and huacatay.
                                          Should be a cream base.
                                          Optional: you can add a tsp of "aji amarillo" ; it's a peruvian yellow chili/aji you can find it in international markets and latin markets. http://www.amazonasnaturalfoods.com/ also sells it.

                                    2. Frozen huacatay leaves from Peru Food Imports (http://perufoodimport.com/). Recipe is even included on back:

                                      1 lb fresh cheese, aka queso fresco
                                      3/4 cup cream or evaporated milk
                                      Black mint (huacatay) leaves, one 400g bag or about 14 oz by wt
                                      salt to taste

                                      Blend above in food processor until creamy. Add one tsp ground yellow pepper if desired.

                                      1. Since there seem to be several Peurvian's on this thread I am going to ask something else - i apologize for the hijack.

                                        I love Tiradito de Ají Amarillo and I would love an authentic recipe for the Aji Amarillo sauce. I have access to Peruvian ingredients.


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ldkelley

                                          Can you describe the sauce? Do any of the recipes online look like they would do the trick? Some seem to be a simple as a pure of aji amarillo. I use the dry ones some, and just a finished a bottle of passion fruit and aji amarillo salsa.

                                        2. Here is a Huacatay plant in eBay and some seeds.

                                          22 Replies
                                          1. re: Spcyllac

                                            Wow, those eBay seeds are expensive. Seedsofchange.com only $3.49 a pack:

                                            1. re: magdazine

                                              it has the right name but it doesn't look like Huacatay to me.

                                              1. re: Spcyllac

                                                This is Huacatay grown from seeds I brought back from Peru.Maybe they will help.
                                                I have more seeds now. I grow them here and they are organic.Not cheap but the real thing.

                                                1. re: tgardener

                                                  Interesting. Does it flower? They look very healthy. I have been buying bags of frozen Haucatay but I would like to plant some.

                                                  1. re: magdazine

                                                    Yes, they do flower just before the plant goes to seed.
                                                    Little white ones and then the plant dries out and dies.
                                                    Where the flowers dried out are the new seeds inside a little brown pod.
                                                    They drop to the grownd and the growing prosses starts all over .
                                                    I just drop my seeds where I want them to grow and they grow the only thing
                                                    I do is water them regular and feed them organic stuff maybe every 3 months.
                                                    They even grow where the wind blows them. I saw the picture you had .comparing them they are simular yet different. Compare them and see what you think.

                                                    1. re: tgardener

                                                      I have been following this post because I have been interested in Huacatay for a long time. I am Peruvian and my access to the plant is very limited in Seattle. Because of this thread I went and rescued an envelope with Huacatay seeds I bought in Peru last year. What intrigues me the most s the the envelope reads "Huacatay (Pazote chenopodium ambrosiodes). I did a quick search on the internet and it referes to it as used in mexican "and other Latin American " dishes. As I mentioned, I bought this in Peru in a very reputable store (packaged by Alabama S.A) but I have certain doubts about it being the Huacatay I am looking for. Any thoughts?

                                                      1. re: dahlia2

                                                        I looked for "tagetes minuta." I know that they are sometimes called "Mexican Marigold," but I think that is incorrect. Mexican Marigolds are "tagetes lucida."


                                                        My Mexican Grandmother never used Huacatay and as far as I know it isn't used in Mexican cooking.

                                                        If you got your seeds in Peru, I am guessing they are the real deal.

                                                        1. re: dahlia2

                                                          I agree with Magdazine.They probably are the real deal . Alabama S.A is a company in Callao , Peru

                                                          1. re: dahlia2

                                                            I am also from Peru and I love Huatacay Sauce. in any case, I don't think is Huacatay (pazote chenopodium ambrosiodes). I think that is Paico.

                                                            1. re: dahlia2

                                                              tgardener: whatever happened to your yello chilli peppers? Do you have them fresh for sale? I would accept them frozen too. Please respond to email: maria.martin@centurylink.com

                                                              1. re: LolyM

                                                                First try they were a great batch.Then 2nd they were lost to several days of below 32 degree weather here in West Central Florida.
                                                                3rd Grew some again and the heat burned them up .4th Now I have started some to plant in September.The weather has made a huge
                                                                change. I will win this challenge.So far the only thing that survives the weather is the huacatay.
                                                                Thanks for asking.

                                                        2. re: tgardener

                                                          I also got some seeds. Some of my Huacatay are growing right now. My mother brought them from Peru long ago. It grows in chicago and in mew Mexico. I still wating for my Aji Amarillo and Aji Panca.

                                                          1. re: Spcyllac

                                                            Very nice! I'm betting it will grow almost anywhere. I am waiting on aji limo and aji amarillo seeds also to come from Peru.I ran out.

                                                            1. re: tgardener

                                                              I got my aji amarillos seeds already. I am growing some of them in my garden.

                                                            2. re: Spcyllac

                                                              Aji Amarillo and Aji Panca is the same AJI. Aji amarillo becomes Aji Panca when after is left to dry and it acquires a deep dark red/brown color. El Aji Amarillo Peruano in some areas of Peru is also called "aji verde", they consider it green (even though is yellow in color) before the drying process that will convert it into the PANCA which is how they used it most of the time as the main ingredient to marinade and/cook caseroles.

                                                              1. re: LolyM

                                                                I have bought both dried aji amarillo and aji panca. One is a dull yellow with moderate heat. The other dark maroon with much less heat. I have also bought pastes for both.

                                                                1. re: LolyM

                                                                  Mine too, If you take all the seeds and veins out of the aji amarillo it has a nice sweet not hot flavor . The aji panca stays hot.

                                                                  1. re: tgardener

                                                                    My Aji Amarillo and Red Aji plants are doing really well. (I bought the seeds from Seeds of Change.) The red chiles are really big now but green. Do they get red on the plant or should I cut them green? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.

                                                                    1. re: magdazine

                                                                      Many peppers start off green, and turn red or yellow when ripe.

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        So I am guessing that I should just leave them on the plant until they turn red? How big should they be? I normally just buy the paste and wasn't sure when to pick them off the plant. I am pretty excited that I actually got the seeds to grow this year :)

                                                              2. re: tgardener

                                                                I have six healthy Huacatay plants for sale on ebay...

                                                                Melizzzard is my user name...

                                                                I also can give recipes if wanted. My boyfriend is Peruvian.



                                                        3. 100g feta cheese
                                                          20-25g huacatay (frozen)(you can use fresh too)
                                                          1 piece rocoto
                                                          70ml olive oil
                                                          juice from a half lemon
                                                          salt (if needed)
                                                          Blend them together.If it's too thick,add a little bit of water.