Bolivian Aji de Fideos is a delicious spicy pasta dish with meat, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and aji (spice) of your choice. A typical feature of this dish is that pasta is toasted separately then incorporated in the sauce and finally cooked together.
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What is Aji de Fideos?
Aji de Fideos is a traditional Bolivian pasta dish, originally from Cochabamba. Dish is a made with meat and tomato sauce, mixed with other vegetables. Then pasta is cooked together with the sauce instead of the sauce being poured on the pasta. This requires a bit of a precision so you don’t overcook the pasta.
The below recipe is my adaptation to US ingredients. I know in Bolivia aji and some other ingredients are a bit different but this is the closest I can get to authentic taste:). I’m married to a Bolivian so I know I have come close to the Bolivian food when he approves.
As per my kids, they love pasta in any shape and form and this is one of their favorites:)
Recipes Notes, Ingredients and Process Pictures
For step by step instructions please see recipe card below. I tend to add here all the extra notes and tips that can help you make a successful dish. Let me know if you have any questions:)
Here’s a view of the ingredients I used to make this recipe, except the oil.
- Meat – Usually I buy meat chunks at my grocery store, they’re already cut for stew. It’s the closest I can get to what I need for this recipe. Then I cut them myself in smaller cubes, for example the chunk size you see in the picture it’s exactly how I bought it in the store then I cut that in 4 smaller cubes.
- Spice – Bolivia and the Andean region overall has so many spices from chilis called ajis. Usually people buy them dry and use them in cooking or make them into a paste. Since I can’t find exactly what I need here in Miami, I use a paste version that I found in the International Section of my grocery store.
- Less Spicy – if you want a very mild spice but a flavorful dish, use Aji Panca. Shop around for different brands, I only have 1-2 choices locally but online there are more.
- Spicier – if you want both the flavor and a much stronger spice use Aji Amarillo, again you have the choice of more brands online than in stores usually.
Usually I use 1 big potato for this pasta dish, but in the absence of 1 big potato I used several small ones. Feel free to use 1 big potato, 2 medium ones or several small ones. I usually don’t weigh this ingredient but estimate and eye-ball it a little bit.
Same for tomatoes and red pepper. I tend to use 3 medium size tomatoes or 5 smaller ones.
Step By Step Pictures
Hope these pictures help clarify some of the directions in the recipe card below.
Start by seasoning the meat with salt and pepper (after you’ve cut it).
Brown the meat in olive oil, cook thoroughly and keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. I prefer using high heat and stir often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. However, you can also use medium-high heat, it will just take a little bit more time!
Once meat browns, add hot water (about 2 cups) then lower heat to medium. Cover the pot.
Get a skillet, add oil and once hot add chopped onions & minced garlic. Saute onions until they become translucent.
Add diced tomatoes and red pepper to the sauteed onion & garlic.
Once tomatoes are cooked and softened, add aji paste of your choice as well as bouillon. Mix thoroughly, then add chopped parsley.
Let sauce simmer for few minutes.
Finally transfer sauce to the pot where meat is cooking. Add sauce from skillet to the pot. Return skillet to the stovetop, add diced potatoes and while scraping the bottom of the skillet saute the potatoes.
Transfer the potatoes to the pot where meat & sauce are cooking.
Finally, add dry pasta to the skillet and start stirring it like you are sauteing. This is called tostar la pasta in Spanish, which means toasting the pasta. Continue doing this for a minute or two then transfer the pasta to the pot where everything is cooking.
Bolivian Aji De Fideos – Spicy Pasta Dish
- Medium pot
- 1 lb beef chunks for stew (about 450 grams) dice them in bite site pieces
- 1 large potato, or few smaller ones
- 1 red onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 5 campari tomatoes or 3 tomatoes on the vine
- 1 sweet red pepper
- 1 tbsp aji panca or aji amarillo Aji is used for both flavor and spice so see recipe notes to decide which to use. You can replace aji with any chili paste of your choice but then you'll have to play around with the quantity until you get the results you want.
- 1 tbsp Better than Bouillon Chicken base
- 1 lb penne pasta (about 450 grams)
- salt/pepper to taste
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup fresh chopped parsley part used for cooking and part for garnish
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- Dice meat chunks in bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
- Saute meat well until brown in a medium size pot in 1-2 tbsps of olive oil. Add 2 cups of hot water and let it cook in medium heat.
- Chop onions, tomatoes and red pepper. Mince the garlic.
- Get a skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Start sauteing onions and minced garlic. Once onions become translucent, then add diced tomatoes and red pepper.
- Stir the sauce occasionally, keep heat medium.
- Add aji (spice of your choice). I prefer aji panca for a family dinner or aji amarillo when I'm cooking for just my husband and myself. Aji panca is not spicy but aji amarillo is.
- Add bouillon as well, mix well then add chopped parsley. Leave few tbsps of parsley on the side for garnish at the end.
- Lower heat, cover skillet and let sauce simmer for few minutes. Then transfer sauce to the pot where meat is cooking. Mix and stir well. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. If sauce is too thick, then add another cup of hot water. You want the sauce to be very thin at this point because you'll boil the pasta in it.
- Return the skillet to stove top. Add diced potatoes and start sauteing while scraping the skillet. The bits and pieces of sauce left over will give the potatoes a great taste.
- Transfer the potatoes as well to the pot, mix once and let it cook.
- Finally add the pasta to the skillet. If skillet has no more oil left, you can add 1 more tbsp of oil. Saute the pasta but don't let it burn. This process is called tostar la pasta in Spanish.
- Pour the toasted pasta into the pot where meat is cooking. Mix and let cook for 10-12 minutes. Make sure all pasta is covered in sauce.
- While pasta is cooking, steam the frozen peas and chop the remaining parsley.
- Serve the pasta with meat and sauce in a deep dish. Garnish with peas and parsley. Enjoy:))
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