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Peruvian Aji - Chilli Peppers
Aji, also known as pimiento chile, originated in the Americas and are cultivated for around 7000 years. Chili Peppers might have been the first spice with which ancient Peruvians seasoned their dishes and were found in many archeological excavations. Today there are around 300 varieties of chili peppers in Peru being an essential part of the local cuisine. Below find the most commonly used ajis.
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Aji Amarillo is the most frequently used chili in Peru and probably the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking. The fruits start off green maturing to a deep yellowish orange. Aji Amarillo has a fruity distinguished taste and a medium to hot heat. It's mostly sold fresh as a whole chili pepper or grounded and find its use in numerous typical Peruvian dishes like the famous Papas a la Huancaina, Aji de Gallina, Causa Limeña and many more.
Aji Panca is the second most common aji variety in Peru and frequently used in the Peruvian cuisine. It matures from green and yellow to a dark red burgundy color. Aji Panca has a berry like, fruity flavor and an aromatic, smoky taste with a mild lingering heat. It can mostly be found dried as a whole chili pepper, prepared into a paste or grounded. Today Aji Panca is often used to season seafood, rice dishes, soups and sauces.
Rocotos look a little like a small version of a bell pepper. But be careful, these peppers are extremely hot! Red, green or yellow on the outside they have black seats. Peruvians love their rocotos. They can be found stuffed with a delicious ground beef mixture as "Rocoto Relleno", simply grounded to use as a spice in soups and sauces, as paste or on the table of nearly every restaurant made into a powerful hot sauce used by Peruvians on virtually any food.
Aji Amarillo in its dried form is called Aji Mirasol. Used as a whole pepper or grounded it has like its fresh counterpart numerous uses in the Peruvian kitchen. While Aji Mirasol is used to prepare the typical Peruvian dishes as mentioned above, it's also a great spice to season any sauce or soup giving it a really unique flavor.
Aji Limo normally is a small chili pepper that can be found in different colors like yellow, green, orange, red and purple. Take care, Aji Limo is really hot! It's usually used to season Peru's national dish, the ceviche, or other Peruvian fish and seafood dishes.
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