Can't find fresh ají amarillo peppers? This post shows you how to make Ají Amarillo Paste using frozen or dried ají amarillo chiles. I've seen a few recipes/instructions for making the sunny yellow paste using fresh chile peppers, but I've never seen fresh ones in the US. If you're lucky enough to find them, the same method applies. I do buy both whole frozen and dried ají amarillo peppers at my local Latino foods market. This post provides another option for making your favorite Peruvian recipes!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Homemade Ají Amarillo Paste
In tackling this topic, I came across several posts that provide instructions for making the paste with fresh ají amarillo chile peppers. Unfortunately, the fresh chile peppers are far more difficult to find than the ají amarillo paste... So, not helpful, right? This post will accomplish the task with both frozen ají peppers and dried ají pepper.
Ají amarillo paste is the Peruvian ingredient that I use the most in Peruvian cooking. You'll find it in my Peruvian arroz con pollo, my ají de gallina, and my Peruvian baked cod with huancaína sauce. I try to keep commercially available paste in my refrigerator, but I sometimes run out or have to throw it out (because it has been open too long). I try to keep the frozen peppers in my freezer for salsa criolla and Peruvian meatballs, and I've discovered they make excellent paste.
The other option I wanted to try was the ají mirasol peppers. They're simply the dried ají amarillo peppers. The paste is a little more work when using the dried peppers, but it has a more intense, earthy flavor that I think would be really good in hearty dishes like this chicken stew and this chicken soup. I really like both of the resulting pastes, but I want to focus on the frozen peppers because they're pretty widely available.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- ají amarillo - This method works on fresh ají amarillo peppers as well, but I've never found them in the US. The frozen peppers are the next best thing. The resulting ají amarillo paste is nearly indistinguishable in a sauce or dish. The ají mirasol yields a paste with a slightly earthier and more concentrated flavor, and it is more time-consuming. The peppers are dried with their skins on, so the purée must be pressed through a sieve to remove the fibrous bits.
NOTE: I recommend not adding salt to the paste, and seasoning the dish rather than the paste.
- Parboil the ají amarillo peppers - Add the whole peppers to a medium saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Cool before proceeding. If you're using dried peppers, boil them for the same amount of time, but let them cool in the pan to allow them to soften.
- Remove the stems, skin, and seeds - Slice off the stem end. Using kitchen shears, make a vertical cut. Scrape out the seeds. The skins should be loosened, and fairly easy to peel. Use the edge of a sharp paring knife to help the process along. If using dried peppers, you may not have much to remove, but you will need to press the purée through a sieve to finish it.
- Purée the peppers. I use my small processor for this task.
- If you're using frozen (or fresh) ají peppers, you're good to go. If you've used ají mirasol dried peppers, you need to push the purée through a sieve. A spatula is helpful for this task.
🎥 How to Make Ají Amarillo Paste Video
Because this paste does not include preservatives, I would suggest no more than 5 days in the refrigerator. The flavor is very close to fresh!
You can freeze the paste in zip bags or airtight containers for a few months in the freezer.
Frozen peppers usually come in 15 or 16 ounce bags. Either will be fine!
The pepper paste will not have preservatives, and thus will not keep as long as a jar of commercial paste in your refrigerator. It keeps very well in the freezer.
Don't limit these delightful peppers to Peruvian dishes. You can substitute them in any recipe that requires a bit of hot sauce or puréed chile peppers.
This post doesn't include fancy photos or complex recipes, but if you're interested in cooking Peruvian food, I think it's valuable information.
How to Make Ají Amarillo Paste from Frozen or Dried Peppers
Frozen Ají Amarillo Peppers
- 15 ounces frozen ají amarillo peppers
Dried Ají Mirasol Peppers
- 4 ounces dried ají amarillo (mirasol) peppers
Frozen Ají Amarillo Peppers
- Add the frozen peppers to a medium-sized pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
- Rinse and drain with cold water to cool them off.
- Remove stems (if present), skins, and seeds.
- Add ½ cup to 1 cup water as needed to puree until smooth.
Dried Ají Mirasol Peppers
- Add the dried peppers to a medium-sized pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
- Allow peppers to cool in the pan to continue to soften.
- Remove stems (if present), and seeds.
- Add ½ cup to 1 cup water as needed to puree until somewhat smooth.
- You need to push the purée through a sieve to remove bits of skin. A spatula is helpful for this task.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
☀️ Recipes That Use Ají Amarillo Paste Substitute
I use ají amarillo paste in so many of my recipes... even some that are more fusion than Peruvian. If you make the paste, be sure to check these out!
- Peruvian Scallops
- The Best Arroz Chaufa
- Tacu Tacu Recipe
- Latin Mango Chicken
- Peruvian-Inspired Fish Tacos
- Shrimp in Roasted Goldenberry Sauce
- Tuna Causa Recipe
- Fresh Tuna Niçoise Salad
- Latin-Inspired Ahi Tuna Tartare
- Slow Cooker Peruvian Lamb Stew
- Peruvian Chicken and Rice
- Baked Cod with Panko and Huancaína Sauce