Posts Tagged ‘peruvian cooking’

The Unknown Chile Peppers

Monday, June 28th, 2010

jungla de morrones

There’s a lot more to chile peppers than bell peppers, jalapenos and poblanos. If you are living in a place like us (Toronto), finding even a serrano chile at a mainstream grocery store can be a challenge. It’s really unfortunate, because there are other varieties of chiles out there, some of them being extremely versatile in food applications.

Two chiles that we particularly like for their potential are the amarillo and rocoto pepper. The amarillo, a member of the Capsicum baccatum family, is the most widely used chile pepper in Peruvian cooking, and if you’ve ever had Peruvian cuisine, chances are you have tasted it. It’s orange in colour and usually about 10 cm long.  Although not very spicy, this pepper is normally seeded and deveined before it is used in cooking. The dried version of this Amarillo pepper is called Aji Mirasol. It often comes as a paste. The food blog Serious Eats really likes the amarillo:

…aji amarillo is worth seeking out for its unique flavor, which offers a lot of fruitiness for its heat. It’s a different kind of fruitiness from other chiles like poblanos: less sharp and harsh, more full-bodied, and a lot more subtle. If there were a chile to taste like sunshine, this would be it. It may sound odd to use the word “comforting” to describe a hot chile, but for aji amarillo, it seems fitting.

Rocoto (Capsicum prubescens) is another Peruvian pepper worth considering. It’s got a lot more heat than the amarillo. This is a meaty pepper that comes in a variety of vibrant colours, from yellow to red. Made into a sauce, we really like it as a replacement for cayenne pepper based hot sauces. It seems to have a fresher, less strong taste, but with all the heat and spiciness. Try rocoto sauce on chicken wings instead of the usual hot sauces. It is excellent.

If you are a food manufacturer interested in incorporating a new and unique chile pepper into your applications, you might want to consider the amarillo or the rocoto pepper. We can provide samples in paste, dried or powdered format, and would be happy to discuss potential uses. Consumers in North America can find these peppers in various formats at ethnic grocery stores, and online. You might try searching for a Peruvian restaurant in your vicinity so you can sample the many dishes that use these chiles.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: A6U571N