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Aji Amarillo Sauce

Learn more about aji amarillo chiles here ยป

You can buy aji chiles fresh, canned, or in paste form, and can use any of those in this recipe. But I like having dried chiles on hand; you can use only what you need instead of opening up a whole can or jar, and unlike fresh chiles, they last forever. Dried chiles are sweeter with deeper, concentrated flavors compared to their fresh counterparts. Drying also enhances aji's sweet, warm, back-of-the-tongue flavor.

The paste this sauce is based on can be used like any other chile paste and is a key component to Peruvian green dipping sauce. If you use pre-made paste, this recipe uses about half a cup. You can customize this sauce to put on or in just about anything: pork, chicken, fish, rice, potatoes, squash, or greens. I enjoy it with kidney beans, which are rich and meaty, but still bland enough to let the chile's subtle flavor and heat come through. Aji amarillo sauce is often thickened with a salty cheese, mayonnaise, evaporated milk, or even crumbled saltines. I like the cheese to play off the mild beans, but if you were serving this with something like roasted chicken, you may want to substitute something creamier instead.

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