Food lovers may wonder exactly what it is about Peruvian food that makes it so special. It could be the fresh fish, or the spices like curry, or the richness of Italian and Spanish influences on its recipes. It could be the ancient cooking methods used by the Incas.
Yes, it could be all of that. However, most contend the key ingredient that makes Peruvian cuisine so special are the peppers. Many of the peppers used for this cuisines are local to Peru and are plentiful.
The most noted pepper used to create Peruvian flavors is the aji papper. The aji pepper is a pepper than includes hundreds of varieties. These peppers come in both a range of colors and tastes that are used to enhance both the taste and look of Peruvian food.
Some aji peppers have a rich, smokey taste while others are sweet or spicy. The aji amarillo pepper is named for its yellow color and its hot spice. It is considered part of Peruvian chef’s “holy trinity” of cooking, along with garlic and red onion. The aji amarillo is considered the most important pepper in Peruvian cooking and is used in many classic dishes.
The aji mirasol is a sundried pepper offering a sweet, fruity flavor with virtually no heat. They are mostly used in sauces, stews and soups and their flavor is further enhanced when they are roasted or fried.
The aji panca is a pepper falling into the smokey flavor category. This is red chili pepper has a mild, almost fruity, flavor with a smoke accent. It is mostly used to flavor skewered meat or in a paste for sauces.
Those who want to try Peruvian dishes in all their peppered glory should visit La Costanera Restaurant, located near San Francisco. This Peruvian restaurant uses authentic ingredients for its recipes, which are a fusion of both old and new cultures and represent the best of Peru!