Aji chile: a star ingredient of aji chile sauce

Aji chile
Aji chile, also known as aji pepper or Peruvian hot pepper, is a chili pepper commonly used in Peruvian and other South American cuisines. It is about 2-3 inches long, with slightly wrinkled, thin skin. Its color varies from yellow to orange, red, or green, and it’s fruity, slightly sweet, and mildly spicy, ideal for ceviche.

What is aji chile?

Aji chile
Aji chile

Aji chile, or aji pepper, is commonly used in South American cuisine. It is the most important ingredient of ceviche, a dish made with raw fish marinated in lime juice and mixed with onions, cilantro, and other seasonings.

OriginThe Andean regions of South America
AppearanceYellow, red, green, or orange, small to medium, slightly wrinkled
Flavor profileFruity, slightly sweet
CuisinesBolivian, Columbian, and Peruvian cuisine
Heat Level30,000 – 50,000 SHUs

Origin

It is believed to have originated in the Andean regions of South America and is now widely used in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

Appearance

Aji chiles come in various colors, including yellow, red, green, and orange, and are generally small to medium in size, with a slightly wrinkled appearance.

Flavor profile

Aji chiles are known for their fruity, slightly sweet taste, with a mild to medium heat level. They add flavor and spice to dishes such as ceviche, stews, sauces, and many Peruvian meals.

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Cuisines

Aji chile is a popular ingredient in many South American cuisines, particularly in Bolivian, Columbian, and Peruvian cuisine. It goes in soups, sauces, salsas, and hot sauces.

It acts as a condiment in marinades for meats and seafood dishes, a rub for grilling meat, and a garnish for dishes like ceviche and salads.

Heat Level

The Peruvian chile has a heat level ranging from mild to moderately hot (between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville Heat Units). It has a flavor profile similar to a combination of bell pepper and habanero.

Some aji varieties have a mild heat level of around 1,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), while others can be pretty spicy, ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 SHU or higher.

Nutritional Benefits of aji chile

Aji chile peppers are a rich source of several essential nutrients, including vitamins C, A, and B6, and minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and copper.

Capsaicin gives this pepper its signature spicy flavor. It has been shown to have various potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-bacterial properties.

Main ingredients of aji chile sauce

Aji chile sauce
Aji chile sauce
  • Tomato
  • Cilantro
  • Aji pepper
  • Onions
  • Water

1. tomato

Tomato
Tomato

Tomatoes are common in many cuisines and add a sweet and tangy flavor. In aji chile, tomatoes provide a mild sweetness and a juicy texture that balances the spiciness of the aji pepper.

2. cilantro

Fresh cilantro
Fresh cilantro

Cilantro is an herb that has a bright and citrusy flavor with a hint of bitterness. It adds a fresh, herbaceous note to the aji chile and helps balance the peppers’ heat.

3. aji pepper

Aji chile
Aji chile

Aji peppers are the star ingredient of Aji chile. They are chili pepper commonly used in South American cuisine and have a bright, fruity flavor with medium heat. Aji peppers have a unique flavor, often described as a combination of citrus and floral notes.

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4. onions

Onion
Onion

Onions add a sweet and savory flavor to the aji chile and a crunchy texture. They have a slightly pungent and sharp taste that helps balance the tomatoes’ sweetness and the aji peppers’ spiciness.

How do I make Aji sauce?

The recipe for Aji can vary depending on the region, but here is a basic one.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2-3 fresh hot peppers (aji amarillo), seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of water

Instructions:

  1. Wash and chop all the herbs, garlic, and hot peppers.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor.
  3. Blend until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  5. Transfer the Aji to a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid.
  6. Refrigerate the Aji for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  7. Serve the Aji with your favorite dishes.

What is a substitute for Aji pepper?

Some of the best substitutes for Aji include:

Jalapeño peppersThese are commonly available and have a similar heat level to a wide variety of Aji
Serrano peppersThese are slightly hotter than jalapeños and can be a good substitute for spicier types of Aji
Cayenne pepperThis is a good substitute if you’re looking for a spicier flavor and heat

Red pepper flakes are a good substitute for dried aji peppers and can add similar heat and flavor.

Alexandra

Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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