One of the most interesting elements of Peruvian cuisine are aji peppers. The aji, also called the pimiento chile, has several unique aspects to it and that makes Peruvian food enjoyable to all your senses.
This pepper is tied to Peruvian food throughout history. It was first cultivated around 7,000 years ago and is thought to be the original spice used by the ancient Peruvian people. Remnants of the peppers were even found in several archeological excavations!
Another interesting aspect of the aji pepper is their common use. There are approximately 300 different types of chili peppers in Peru with most using aji peppers. Aji peppers encompass an extensive variety, with peppers coming all colors including yellow, green, red, orange and even purple. The various colors not only add dimension to Peruvian dishes, but also add subtle differences in Peruvian flavors.
The number one aji pepper used in Peru’s dishes is the Aji Amarillo, which is a yellow pepper. It has medium to hot heat.
Not all peppers are hot. The second most commonly used aji pepper, Aji Panca, has a fruity, berry flavor mixed with lingering heat with an underlying smoky taste. This berry, with its rich burgundy color, looks like it tastes. It is used most often to season seafood, soups and sauces.
Aji Limo, a group of chili peppers in a variety of colors, are smaller, but provide a big punch of hot heat. These are most often used in Peru’s most traditional dish, ceviche. They are also used with fish and seafood dishes.
La Costanera Restaurant uses aji peppers in many of its authentic Peruvian dishes. Guests to this Peruvian restaurant get an authentic Latin American experience in both dining and atmosphere when they visit La Costanera, which sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean outside San Francisco. Ancient cooking techniques mix well with Chef Carlos Altamirano’s contemporary flair, creating a dining experience to remember.