Discover the Peruvian Aji Amarillo Chili

 

Puruvian FlagSituated High in the South American Andes mountain range Peru, South America’s 3rd largest country sits nestled between Bolivia and Ecuador. It is home to many Inca temples on the high inner plateaus of the Andes mountains and hosts the Amazon river on the lower inland tributaries. Beaches and Peru’s capital Lima are along the southern coastline of the Pacific Ocean.

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photo credit: Peruvian National Society

The world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, covers nearly half of Peru. Called the Selva in Spanish, this huge jungle, which also covers half of Brazil, is home to plants and animals that do not live anywhere else on Earth. Some scientists think there may even be Indian tribes there that have never seen the outside world, however a majority of Peru’s population live in or around coastal cities.

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photo credit: Peruvian state photos

The people of Peru are a mix of many different cultures including: Indians, Spaniards and other Europeans, descendants of African slaves, and Asians. Peruvian food and culture reflects the history and diversity of its people and the  broad spectrum of culinary ingredients can be seen as an influence from each individual culture. You might see dishes including soy sauce from Asian culture, pasta from European culture, peanuts from African culture and of course chilies and potatoes from native Indian culture. Whatever it might be modern Peruvian food is both flavorful and eclectic.

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photo credit: National Geographic

The Ancient Incas were among the first to inhabit Peru and were the first to grow native plants as food sources. Some of the early cultivation of potatoes happened in Peru. My favorite is the purple Peruvian potato. How is that for a tongue twister? The Aji Amarillo chili  was another staple that was first cultivated at the time of the Spanish conquest. At that time Incas cultivated almost as many species of plants as Europe or Asia. The Aji Amarillo is among the first chilies to be planted in Peru. Aji means chili.

The Aji Amarillo is dark orange in color, has sweet, spicy, and earthy flavor profiles, and is grown in all the aforementioned areas of Peru. It is grown and available year round. When dried the pepper turns a burnt orange-red color and retains its heat.

 

I chose to use the Aji Amarillo Chili to make an amazing chicken soft taco recipe using the medium heat of the chili toned down with the sweet and tangy flavors of pineapple. Substitute tofu or your favorite vegetrian protein instead of chicken. Below is the recipe and a photo journal to go with it. Don’t be alarmed that the recipe is somewhat long. Follow the steps and you will have delicious food in no time! 🙂

Peruvian Aji Amarillo and Pineapple Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

4 large boneless /without skin chicken breasts whole

1 large white onion chopped

7 cloves garlic

2 cups fresh pineapple chunks

1 package Aji Amarillo Peruvian chilies

2-teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano

1 teaspoon preferred salt

1 teaspoon ground black or rainbow peppercorns

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

2 cup bowling water

Garnish Ingredients

Corn tortillas

Monterey Jack cheese

Minced red onion

Minced cilantro

Lime wedge

This recipe can be made in a pressure cooker to cut down on cooking time. Feel free to cook on medium low heat until chicken can be easily shredded with fork in regular pan /pot with a cover.

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, pineapple and sauté for a few minutes.
  2. Add chicken and spices and cook till lightly brown. Do not burn spices. Add 1/2 cup of water. Cook for 20-25 minutes in your pressure cooker. In your regular pot cook for 45-60 minutes or until chicken can easily be shredded.
  3. Remove stems and seeds from chilies and toast on low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Place toasted chilies in bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let sit for 15-20 minutes or until they are soft and pliant
  5. Add chilies to blender or food processor with 1 cup of soaking water. Blend on low for 2-3 minutes. Mixture should be completely pureed with no skin or chunks left. Transfer to sauce pan.
  6. After chicken if fully cooked add it to a bowl and cover. Take pineapple mixture and half remaining liquid and put it into a blender or food processor. Make sure mixture is cooled off a little bit before blended. Blend for 1-2 minutes until everything is completely combined and in sauce form. Mix together with chili sauce on stove. Add teaspoon of honey, more salt and pepper to taste. Mixture should not be thin. It should be a thick creamy texture. Add more water if you want a more loose sauce.
  7. Shred chicken using 2 forks to pull apart. Add sauce a little bit at a time until chicken is fully saturated. You will most likely have extra sauce left.
  8. Garnish: Shred cheese, heat corn tortillas mince onion and cilantro.
  9. Put together your yummy taco. Use extra sauce as a garnish.

 

 

Happy Cooking from Sonoma Spice Queen! You can purchase dried organic Aji Amarillo Chilies at my spice shop as well as other spices mentioned in recipe . SSQ 407 C St. Petaluma, Ca 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE WORLD OF SPICE

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The world is vast and large. Countries, states, cities, land, mountains, hills, rivers, oceans populations, people, families, mothers, fathers, children, history, culture, FOOD! In all the world the number one commonality that joins together people and culture is FOOD! We all have to eat food. In every culture, people use food as a way to connect with others, as a way to communicate about time and history. Every people and culture celebrates life with their own traditions and renditions of recipes passed on from generation to generation. In this blog we will become cultural anthropologists as we study culture and create recipes from around the world using spices as our star ingredients.

 

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The tradition of using spices in cooking can be traced back as far as 2000 BC throughout China and Southeast Asia. There are references to spices, especially herbs in Egyptian tombs as they were used for embalming. Early cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Romans,  and many Asian cultures have been credited with the early distribution of spices around the world, with the Egyptian state of Alexandria being the first main trading center for spices.

The famed spice roads of the world have been known to be a cause of many wars and stories of thieves and heists run rampant through the regions. Passed down from generation to generation, these stories tell of a time when only the richest of the world’s citizens could afford to have a spice chest. Spices were always behind a lock and only the most trusted of servants had a key. In our modern world spices are readily available to most people on the planet. Whether it be a small Ethiopian tribe in the South Eastern part of Africa making their famed Berber spice for daily meals, an Indian family grinding spices for their own unique version of Garam Masala, spices made in a manufacturing plants for large conglomerate grocery stores, or small batch organic spices made by me the Sonoma Spice Queen; spices have changed the way we look at food in our daily lives.

Enter me: culinary adventure Wind McAlister and owner of  Sonoma Spice Queen a 100% organic spice company located in  Petaluma California. Through my love of cooking and cultural exploration I bring to you  organic, hand crafted, small batch spice mixes and rubs, that turn your everyday meals into culinary masterpieces. My goal is to awaken your palate while making everyday cooking easy to manage.SSQ_2Print6781

In this blog we will explore recipes from across the globe using my spice mixes and rubs as key ingredients as well as a plethora of individual spices and herbs. You can order from http://www.sonomaspicequeen.com or visit 407 C St. Petaluma Ca if you want to make your kitchen smell as yummy as mine!

Stay Tuned! In my first recipe blog we will learn about the Peruvian Aji Amarillo Chili ! I will provide a recipe for chicken and pineapple tacos using the Aji Amarillo as the base for our sweet and spicy sauce. Remember all of the recipes can be  made vegetarian, vegan or glueten free with only a little bit of tweaking to fit your dietary needs.

Happy Cooking!

Wind

Sonoma Spice Queen