We were introduced several years ago. One of the ladies in the church we attended in Bogotá was Peruvian, and she invited us over for a meal. Everything she prepared was Peruvian: from the papas huancaina to the mazamorra.
Just this past weekend, we got reacquainted. One of the ladies in the church we are attending in Pennsylvania is Peruvian, and she invited us to share lunch on Sunday. Everything she prepared was Peruvian: from the papas huancaina to the chicha morada. The chicken in the arroz con pollo was very flavorful, and everyone raved about the salsa criolla (an salad made from thinly sliced red onion).
One of the important ingredients in Peruvian cuisine is a yellow hot pepper by exactly that name, aji amarillo. The heat is pretty strong, but it has a pleasant touch of fruity-ness about it. It can be used for the sauce of potato salad, to give kick to the salsa criolla, or to marinade chicken for the grill.
Aji amarillo isn’t as easy to find as your jalapeño, serrano, and habanero. Most people won’t even know what you are talking about when you use the word “aji”. While you can find those three in the fresh produce section of your local grocery store, don’t be confused by the bags of multi-colored sweet mini peppers. They may be the right color and almost the right shape, but they aren’t aji amarillo. Your best bet is to look in the canned / bottled hot sauce section or in the Latin American section of the grocery aisle.
Even there, you probably won’t find this yellow Peruvian hot pepper. Only one of the Whole Foods Market stores in our area carry it—and that at a high price. A lady at one of the stalls at the indoor Flourtown Farmer’s Market tipped me off to an international grocery store that sells the aji in a pepper paste for a fraction of WFM’s price. Most of the product at Assi Plaza is oriental/Asian, but they do have a wealth of products from other regions across the globe.