Recipe: Aji Roja (Mild Red Chile Sauce Peruvian-Style)

Aji Roja

Aji Roja (Peruvian-style red chile sauce)

This is one of two sauces I served with my anticuchos. It’s got a mild chili/smoke flavor and invites generous squirting onto tacos or alongside grilled meats. This is possibly the inspiration for the “Tacolicious” sauce which is popular at Bay Area taco stands. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

3 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Half a medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves
¾ c plus 2 T vegetable oil
½ c dried chile de árbol, stemmed (or another medium-hot dried red chile)
½ c water
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 t Kosher salt*

Method: broil onion and tomato under low heat (in the middle of the oven, or in a toaster oven), turning occasionally, until nicely charred with most of the liquid evaporated. This will take about 20 minutes. First the tomatoes will put out a lot of liquid, but it will gradually cook away. Meanwhile, sauté garlic in 2 T oil until brown but not burned; add the chiles and cook till darkened a bit, about 10 minutes. Transfer roasted vegetables, garlic and peppers to a blender; add vinegar and water and allow to macerate half an hour or so, then add salt, grind to a paste and macerate some more. Now blend in oil pouring slowly so it completely emulsifies with the vegetables. Serve immediately; leftovers will keep a couple of weeks in refrigerator.

*A gremlin initially made me write 1 T, now corrected.

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