Ají amarillo paste is a bright yellow/orange chilli paste from Peru. It’s aromatic, fruity and moderately spicy.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Table of contents
What is Aji Amarillo Paste?
Aji Amarillo paste is essentially ground up fresh aji amarillo chillies (chili peppers in American speak). The paste is an essential ingredient in Peruvian cooking and in Peru, is often made from scratch when needed. Just like one would grind onions, garlic and ginger to make a curry.
This paste is used to make so many dishes, like sauces, stews, salad dressings and so much more. I have a huge batch of this yellow ají paste from last year’s harvest (2021), so look out for recipes in the coming weeks.
Now as long as you have access to a Latin American store wherever you are, you can easily buy aji amarillo paste. And as I say all the time, you will definitely find it online, Amazon and Ebay are always good sources for specialist products.
However, if you love growing your own food, get your hands on some seeds, grow this favourite Peruvian chilli, and make your own paste.
Because nothing beats homemade!
Aji Amarillo Chilli Pepper
This fruity, slightly tangy chilli is a favourite of mine and I grow it every year for its flavour and colour. At 30 000 – 50 000 SHU, it’s a moderately spicy chilli and one of the most popular in Peru and the surrounding region.
When fully ripe, the aji amarillo takes on a bright orange colour, instead of the yellow that its name suggests.
- Aji = chilli in Spanish (correct spelling ají)
- Amarillo = masculine form of yellow
Aji Amarillo = Yellow Chilli Pepper
Aji Amarillo Paste Recipe
It’s a really, really easy recipe to make
An authentic aji amarillo paste doesn’t contain anything apart from the chillies and a little liquid (water or unflavoured vegetable oil). So no onions, no garlic, no herbs, nothing.
You may want to add a pinch of salt to it, but I suggest you refrain and add salt to the recipe you’re making it with. Unless you’re planning to enjoy the paste on its own, maybe for dipping your chips (fries) in or for drizzling over potatoes and vegetables. Then, knock yourself out.
This is how we make aji amarillo paste:
- Blanch the aji amarillo so you can peel them.
- Peel them (for a smoother chilli paste with no bits).
- Place in a chopper or blender with a little liquid and chop/blend to a smooth paste.
How to use Aji Amarillo Paste
It has so many uses, and I promise that I shall follow this post up with some recipes in the coming weeks. Some examples:
- you can use it when making Aji de Galina, that creamy, shredded chicken dish that reminds me of our coronation chicken.
- it’s also used to make aji amarillo sauce.
- flavour salad dressing – this I do a lot, as I love a kick in my salads.
- add it to soups and stews for a flavour and spice hit.
- along the lines of the sauce mentioned above, jazz up some mayonnaise for dipping crudités, flatbread and breadsticks or for making devilled eggs.
- it goes amazingly with seafood, whether as a sauce or a marinade, lime juice will add some zing.
And it makes a great foodie gift too for all Latin American food lovers and chilli heads!
Don’t have Ají Amarillo Chillies?
Well…, 2 options: buy it or sub the chillies.
The other option is to substitute these Peruvian chillies with a combination of scotch bonnets and orange bell pepper or sweet peppers.
The scotch bonnet is much hotter than this amarillo chilli, so you want to temper that heat by using some orange or yellow sweet peppers. Then just follow the instructions below. You get the same fruity flavour of the traditional aji amarillo paste, but of course, with a very slight difference in flavour and aroma.
If you’re in the UK, Waitrose and Ocado sell scotch bonnets.
How to Store?
As it’s a fresh chilli paste (even if we do blanch the chillies) with no acid added (citrus or vinegar), it doesn’t have too long a shelf life. In the fridge, it’ll last a week.
The best way to store your aji amarillo paste is by freezing it. I fill ice cube trays with it, cover and store up to 3 months.
I do this with most chilli pastes I make and also the Indian Fried Onion Paste. This way, I can defrost what I need, it’s just so convenient.
And that about covers it. Shall we get our aprons on?
If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!
And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood
More Chilli Paste and Hot Sauce Recipes
Aji Amarillo Paste Recipe
- 1 Knife
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 colander or sieve
- 1 food chopper or blender
- 1 jar with 250 ml (1 cup) capacity
- 1 spoon
- 20 aji amarillo
- 2 – 3 Tbsp vegetable oil or water
Fill your saucepan with water and let it come to a boil. In the meantime, slice your aji (chillies) lengthwise and discard the seeds and all the bits in the chilli (the capsaicin glands and the placenta). You want only the orange flesh.
Drop the aji amarillo in the boiling water, reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes to soften.
Drain and leave to cool so that you can handle the chillies. Then, using gloves, remove the skin of the chillies. They should come off easily, see image. Peeling the chillies gives you a smoother aji amarillo paste. Otherwise, your paste will be bitty.
Place all the peeled aji in the food chopper, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (or water) and blend to a smooth paste. Add more oil if you want a runnier paste. Transfer to a sterilised jar or ice cube tray and store as discussed in the post above.