Aji Chile Pepper Stats
Length: 4 - 6"
Width: ½ - 1 ½"
Scientific Name: Capsicum baccatum
Other Names: peruvian puff pepper, pimiento chile
Scoville Range: 30,000+
Aji Chile Pepper Origin and History
The aji pepper dates back thousands of years to the Moche culture in Peru. In the wild the plant is most common in the mountains of South America, especially Bolivia. Aji is a mainstay of Peruvian cooking. Although it can grow in the southern United States, it is uncommon in super markets in this country, but is increasingly available at specialty markets.
Aji Chile Pepper Description
Aji fruits are typically orange or red and sometimes yellow or purple, and average 40 pods per plant. Shapes vary, but they are typically elongated or tapered. They have white or green flowers with green or gold corollas. Aji plants are more tolerant of cool weather than many other pepper plants.
The subtle bouquet of this hot spicy pepper varies among the many cultivars. Aji limo, for example, has a clear citrus flavor with the aroma of lemons and limes and a strong hint of citron. Aji amarillo is a yellow chile with a distinguished fruity taste sometimes described as grassy. Aji mirasol is the dried form of Aji amerillo. Aji panca has a berry-like fruity flavor and an aromatic, smoky taste.
In South America "aji" may be used as a general term for peppers, regardless of the type.
Aji Chile Pepper How to Serve or Use
Aji pepper infuses food with a unique fruity taste. Papas a la Huancaina, tamales, ceviche, arroz con pollo, and many other South American dishes use aji chiles. Aji de gallino (chicken in a spicy yellow chile pepper sauce) is a traditional Argentinean dish. Peruvian causa combines aji amarillo sauce and potatoes with tuna, crab, or chicken in a layered dish.
Aji is a major ingredient in chimichurri, a condiment widely used in dishes in Argentina and Uruguay. Argentinean cuisine uses chimichurri as a sauce or marinade with grilled steak, fish, or chicken. The basic ingredients are fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, oil, vinegar, and chile pepper flakes, but there are many regional variations.
Aji peppers are also dried and ground into colorful powders, used fresh in salsa and salads, made into paste, or pickled. Often times cooks reconstitute dried aji chiles when they cannot find fresh ones.
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