Aji amarillo is a long, thin chile pepper cultivated in the Americas. Popular in Peruvian cuisine, it boasts hotter-than-jalapeño heat, fruity flavor and a yellow-to-orange hue.
Use it: Chop whole peppers and add them to peach, mango or tomato salsa. Use the paste as part of a citrusy marinade for ceviche. Aji amarillo shines bright in sauces, like that accompanying cheese- and guava-stuffed empanadas at Sanctuaria. Or keep it simple and just make Peruvian-style cheese fries.
Find it: Global Foods Market, 421 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.835.1112, globalfoodsmarket.com. Sold whole frozen, whole jarred or as a paste.
8 fresh yuca, peeled
1 cup queso fresco
2 whole aji amarillo peppers, seeds and veins removed
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ tsp. turmeric
Canola oil for frying
• Cut each yuca into 8 equal spears.
• Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the yuca spears. Bring to a boil. Add all of the yuca and cook for 30 minutes, or until the yuca reaches the consistency of a dense potato. Drain.
• Transfer the spears to a sheet pan and refrigerate until cooled.
• Meanwhile, prepare the huancaina sauce: Using a blender or food processor, blend together the queso fresco, aji amarillo, evaporated milk, 1 cup of olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
• Warm the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl in the microwave. Add the turmeric and stir to dissolve.
• Add the turmeric oil to the huancaina sauce. Stir and set aside.
• Heat the canola oil in a deep-fryer (or heat 4 to 5 inches of oil in a Dutch oven or large pot).
• Working in batches, fry the yuca until crispy. Drain.
• Sprinkle with salt. Serve with huancaina sauce.