Posts Tagged ‘Rocoto’

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.

Here’s something else worth trying: subscribe and follow Ingredient Hotline so you are always up to date on the latest in innovative, all natural ingredients. We’re even on Facebook!

Creative Commons License photo credit: A6U571N

The Ajíes of Peru

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
A mix of Fresh Rocoto (red) and Aji Amarillo (orange) with Limes (green)

A mix of Fresh Rocoto (red) and Aji Amarillo (orange) with Limes (green)

Peru is a remarkable country with various food products and ingredients to offer the culinary world.  Their unique geographic location as well as historical roots have all helped to produce a diverse array of flavours and dish selections.   From a diet rich in seafood, corn, potatoes, ancient grains and meat to a plethora of natural yet functional plants, fruits and herbs.  Ajies or Pepper varieties abound in Peru.  As other countries, the pepper varietals come in vibrant colours and range of pungency.  The more commonly used varieties are Rocoto, Amarillo, Mirasol, Limo and the Panca pepper.

Rocoto (Capsicum prubescens)

copia-de-img_0574-copia2This is a meaty pepper that comes in a variety of vibrant colours, from yellow to red.   It has plenty of shiny, black seeds.    It is one of the hottest peppers of Peru with scoville units ranging from 30,000 to 70,00o – it depends if the seeds are used in the recipe.

Aji Amarillo

The Amarillo pepper is most widely used in Peruvian cooking. Always orange in colour, even though it is called the green aji.  It is about 10 cm long.  Although not very spicy, this peper is normally seeded and deveined before it is used in cooking.   It is milder than the Rocoto and is a main component in making  Huancaina sauce.     Huancaina sauce is a creamy blend of goat’s cheese, evaporated milk, amarillo pepper paste, garlic and cumin.    The dried version of this Amarillo pepper is called Aji Mirasol.

The Aji Mirasol is often seeded, scraped and left to soak in water for 12 hours or more before it is pureed and used in a sauce.  It has a mild, smoked flavour and it is used to make Panca paste.

Limo Pepper

The Limo Pepper is very similar to the Aji Amarillo in shape, but its colour is almost always red.  It is used fresh in ceviches.

Fresh Limo Pepper

Fresh Limo Pepper