mercredi, novembre 08, 2006

Luis entertains

So I had one of my neighbors in the residence over for dinner. She had helped me figure out the nearest hospital when a student had a rather blood-spattered accident, so I thought I'd invite her for a bit of food. I had prepared some papas a la huancaína (see below for my own recipe) and a slightly altered version of my ají de gallina, using a turkey leg and nutmeg instead of a hen and tumeric. For crudités (French for an appetizer made of raw vegetables) I cut up a cucumber, salted lightly, and then drizzled some mint-infused olive oil that I had bought from Oliviers & Co a few weeks ago. Also, I made some brown rice (from Camargue) with some stock and sautéed onions&garlic, as well as the mango salsa from the day before; the nighttime spent soaking in lime juice softened up the mangoes a bit, but they were still far too fibrous for my taste.

Overall, it went well (although I think I prefer my traditional ají de gallina recipe). I was totally expecting my guest to find the mango salsa inedible (even I found it very spicy) and the huancaína sauce too spicy. Me and another American friend here have noticed that French folks are surprisingly conservative and total spice lightweights; they're happy to eat "adventurously" within a Gallic frame (i.e. stinky cheese? sure! organ meats? of course!!), but unfamiliar foods are always "spéciale," which is a french euphemism for "I hate this, but I can't say so politely." My guest, however, was a total trooper and distinguished herself by eating everything on her plate. Although she needed a lot of rice to dilute the mango salsa, she ate it all. She brought over a bottle of Normandy-style apple cider that went surprisingly well with the food.

And now, for the recipe:

Papas a la Huancaína


  • 3 - 6 ajíes rocoto or mirasol/amarillo. In a pinch you can substitute jalapeños (less spicy) or habañeros (VERY spicy). Either way, you can always reduce the spicyness levels during preparation (see step 1).
  • 1 Red Pepper (sweet). This is optional, but gives flavor and a beautiful pink finish.
  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and quartered
  • a couple of cloves of garlic
  • 500 grams of queso fresco or something similar. I've had good luck with ricotta and braccio/brousse (Corsican). You can also use mascarpone, but that makes it really, really rich.
  • 1 - 3 tablespoons of aji or rocoto paste.
  • a handful of soda crackers
  • olive oil


Essentially, the recipe is this: soften vegetables in boiling water, drain, blend with cheese and spices, serve. Here's the detailed version:

  1. Put onion, red sweet pepper, and hot peppers into a few cups of water with a bit of sugar and boil. This will remove some of the spicyness, so you have several options for managing spicyness. If you want to preserve the spice of your hot peppers, only boil until the onion is transparent. If you want to really tone down the spice, you can boil for a few minutes, dump the water, and boil again. You can do this three times before you start losing a lot of the flavor as well. If you don't like raw garlic, you can toss in the garlic cloves to boil with the mixture. Watch out for the fumes from the boiling water! Some of the spicy chemicals will become airborne.
  2. Drain, leaving a little bit of hot water, and add cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and hot pepper paste. If you didn't boil the garlic, add it now. Fold together with a spatula to soften cheese.
  3. Transfer to blender or use hand blender. Blend to desired consistency.
  4. If the sauce is too runny, add a couple of crushed soda crackers and a bit of olive oil. Continue until the sauce is good and thick.
  5. Serve over slices of potatoes, either cold or hot. I prefer to have the sauce good and cold and serve it over freshly cooked potatoes.
  6. If you want to be really peruvian, garnish with black olives and half of a hard-boiled egg.

1 commentaire:

::Alejandro:: a dit…

Luís, so glad my blog could help.


Peru Food