Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 15, 2008 04:06 PM

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!!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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 :(