Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa

A bit spicy, a bit tangy, and a bit umami, this Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa will liven up the simplest of dishes! 5 ingredients – red chile (rocoto, Fresno, red jalapeño, etc.), tomato, red onion, lime juice, and vinegar… 3 days in an airtight container. A delicious Peruvian Ají Recipe!

Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa - red salsa in a turquoise bowl surrounded by veggie chips.

At the intersection of consumers’ growing interest in bold, spicy flavors, health and a desire to expand their horizons through food, fermented foods have re-entered the spotlight owing to their deep flavors and health halo as a longtime form of food preservation with related digestive benefits, according to the latest Culinary…

~~ foodnavigator-usa.com

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Rocoto Salsa and Fermented Foods

Fermentation and I have been friends for years. Hubby Mark and I got into making wine, and eventually home brew. It was only recently that I became interested in fermenting food. My first experience was with making kimchi for my Korean-Style Instant Pot Pulled Pork Wraps With Asian Slaw and Kimchi and Korean Street Tacos with Green Onion Kimchi.

Miso is a great “introduction” to fermented foods. If you’ve had miso, do you know that its luscious umami flavor comes from fermented soybeans and grains?

Fish sauce has become quite common in the kitchens of home cooks, and it owes its umami flavor to fermented anchovies.

I featured preserved lemons in my Easy Moroccan Preserved Lemon Yogurt Sauce with Fresh Herbs and my Grilled Potato Salad Moroccan Style. While preserved lemons are available commercially, they’re expensive. They can be made at home for a couple bucks, and ferment on your counter for 30 days.

Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa - in a glass jar with a red print napkin.

So let’s get to the point already? Fermented foods taste good.  😀 They’re easy to make. They will definitely elevate your cooking with the complex flavor they bring to a dish.

You may already know the health benefits of fermented foods… Most of us eat yogurt, right? Yogurt has been fermented with lactic acid bacteria (aka probiotics), and those probiotics increase healthy bacteria in the intestines, boost immunity, and can help heal health issues (ie. leaky gut and IBS).

I have for a number of years battled my own GI issues, and in that context, I have looked to include more fermented foods in my diet.

Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa - red pepper salsa in Cuzco, Peru.

In Cuzco this summer, we enjoyed dinner at KusiKuy. Their house made salsa was fantastic (especially with yuca frita!). Our server graciously gave us a description of the ingredients and process. As you can see in the foreground, the restaurant does hand chop the ingredients. I use my food processor to achieve the finer consistency that we prefer.

This Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa is super easy to make, requires only a few minutes of active time, followed by 3 days fermenting time. It will keep in the refrigerator longer than it will take you to eat it! TRUST ME.  😀

How to Make Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa

Salsa Ingredients


  • 1 large red onion, cut in chunks
  • 2 medium red chiles (rocoto, Fresno, red jalapeno)
  • 10-12 ounces tomato(es), I use Cherub or similar grape tomatoes
  • 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoon good white vinegar, I like white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Salsa Steps

  • Prepare the vegetables – Stem and seed the chiles, and cut into smaller pieces. Cut the red onion into several chunks. If using whole tomato, cut into several chunks.
  • Process until consistent (preferred) texture is achieved.
  • Add the vinegar, lime juice, and salt, and pulse just to combine.
  • Scoop into an airtight jar. Place in a sunny location for 3 days, then store in the refrigerator.

Pairing Red Pepper Salsa

Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa - a festival on the streets of Cuzco!

Serve as you would your favorite salsa. We love it as one of 2 or 3 salsas with Peruvian meatballs, or with Seco de Cordero. Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa may be your new favorite salsa!

Note: Unless you’re in Peru, you may not find fresh rocoto chiles. I used red jalapeño for this batch, but Fresno chile is another perfect option. I think the Fresno chile with its hint of sweetness is more similar to the rocoto. Red jalapeño is just jalapeño left longer on the stem. I prefer fresh chiles for this salsa, but you can substitute rocoto chiles in a jar with good results.

What if any fermented foods do you enjoy? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa - a scoop of salsa on a chip with 2 beers in the background.
Yield: About 2 cups

Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa

Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa - a turquoise ceramic bowl of Peruvian red pepper salsa on a tray with veggie chips.

A bit spicy, a bit tangy, and a bit umami, this Fermented Peruvian Red Pepper Salsa will liven up the simplest of dishes! 5 ingredients - red chile (rocoto, Fresno, red jalapeño, etc.), tomato, red onion, lime juice, and vinegar... 3 days in an airtight container. Delicious!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion, cut in chunks
  • 2 medium red chiles (rocoto, Fresno, red jalapeno), cut in chunks (see notes)
  • 10-12 ounces tomato(es), I use Cherub or similar grape tomatoes
  • 2 limes, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoon good white vinegar, I like white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Add red onion, chiles, and tomatoes (all similar sizes) to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until desired size is achieved. We like it fine rather than chunky.
  2. Add the lime juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Pulse to combine.
  3. Serve with anything you'd serve with your favorite salsa - tortilla chips, yuca frita (fried yuca and my personal favorite), veggie chips (homemade or commercially packaged), on a burger or rotisserie chicken, etc. Enjoy!

Notes

I've mentioned 3 options: rocoto, Fresno, red jalapeño. This is kind of a "to taste" recipe, depending on your heat level preference. I used 2 red jalapeños, and it was fairly mild. This is more about flavor than heat.

We've enjoyed this salsa on so many things! I took the photos with homemade veggie chips - beet, sweet potato, and red potato. I buy a rotisserie chicken for lunches and quick meals, and it's a great condiment for the chicken. Of course it's good on tortilla chips. My favorite is yuca frita or fried plantains!

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Nutrition Information:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 40

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6 Comments

  1. I made this with homegrown rocoto chilies. I used 4 chilies and it was way too hot so I added about10 ounces of roasted red peppers from a jar and decreased the salt since the sweet red peppers had salt. Incredibly great sauce! Going to make it again today.

    1. Hi Krista! Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback… I’m jealous you have homegrown rocoto chiles! Yes, I handle really hot food, but rocotos are on the edge for me. I may try adding some roasted red peppers next time.

  2. You’re right. This could easily become my new salsa. It’s going to be interesting to taste how the fermentation process alters the flavor of what looks like a normal salsa. A very inspiring little salsa.