Peruvian Huancaina Sauce

Believe it or not, there are 2 sauces on this plate. The one in this recipe is on the left.

Peruvians make some great sauces, or salsas. Here is one of my favorites. This is usually the sauce that accompanies the dish called papa a la huancaina. Its a type of cheese and aji (chili) sauce. You can use this sauce on alot of things. Spaghetti (I’ve used it with spinach pasta), meat dishes, ect. Try it at home or on the road.

Ingredients:

– 200/250 g of cheese, queso Parea (A queso fresco of your choosing, not too salty.) In Peru, ask for Parea.

– 1 garlic clove

– 1/4 of a small onion

– 1/2 of one can of evaporated milk

– 1 to 2 cups of vegetable oil

– Aji amarillo (=Yellow/Orange colored chili)

– 4 or 5 soda crackers

– salt and pepper to taste

Aji

The aji  is used in many Peruvian sauce recipes. We purchased enough for 2 kinds that use this aji. One being the Huancaina sauce. I’m sure with a little luck this aji (chili) can be found in specialty markets, organic or even Mexican markets. I grew up in Miami, never knowing if there are Peruvian markets there, but there were always a few Mexican or of course, Cuban markets.

What to do:

Cut your cheese into cubes and add to the blender. Rough chop your onion, and throw that in along with the clove of garlic. Cut and seed your aji, chop into slices. Throw them in the blender too, along with half your can of evaporated milk, some salt and pepper, and 1 cup of oil. Add the soda crackers too.

Turn the blender on low and let it rip. Add a bit more oil as necessary. This is one of those taste as you go along recipes. You might want to add more aji, or more salt. Taste and you’ll know. It should have that distinct flavor of the aji. If not, add a little more. The consistency should be thick but still a bit runny. If it’s too thick it might need more oil.

Ready to blend

When the sauce is just  how you’d like it to be, its ready to serve. You can make it traditional Peruvian style with potatoes and boiled eggs, or throw it on your favorite pasta, or with meat, or anything you can think of. I’ve seen it eaten on rice and tuna fish as well.

Queso Parea, right.

The only difference between this sauce and the next one we’re going to make using the aji, called Ocopa Sauce-is that the aji and onions are cooked, and instead of soda crackers animal crackers and peanuts are used. The sauce becomes much thicker and the flavor changes slightly. See if you can spot the thick sauce against the regular Huancaina in the first picture. Another tasty idea? Make both and mix them together, which is what I do!

Have you ever had Huancaina Sauce? Or Ocopa? Which did you like better?

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