Last week I posted my recipe for Peruvian Lomo Saltado and I was surprised at all the messages I got about the Green Sauce that was on the side of the dish. So here it is my friends, my version of Peruvian Salsa Verde. One of the questions I got the most was if my aji verde contained huacatay? And yes, yes it does!! When I first found huacatay paste at my local grocery store, it was like finding gold. Now, if you are lost on what I’m talking about please don’t skip over to recipe, I’ll walk you over all this terminology and what this amazing Spicy Green Sauce is and where it comes from.Jump to Recipe
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What is Salsa Verde (Aji Verde)?
Salsa Verde or Aji Verde is a spicy green sauce, mostly used in Peru as a side salsa to spice up meats, grilled food and many other dishes. The salsa has so many versions in Peru as well as in United States where Peruvian cuisine is becoming more popular lately. My recipe below is as close to authentic as I can get in Miami because of the ingredients needed for this sauce.
Peruvian Salsa Verde usually has aji amarillo (spicy yellow chile), huacatay (black mint), cilantro, jalapeno and mayonnaise. The other ingredients seem to vary from recipe to recipe or from chef to chef according to their preference.
What is Huacatay?
Huacatay or Black Mint is a plant used as a condiment in the Andean countries of South America, mainly Peru and Bolivia. The plant is used fresh, dried or in paste form. My mother in law tells me that in Bolivia you can find bunches of fresh huacatay in almost every farmer’s market. People usually buy it fresh and hang the bunches of this plant at home to let it dry a bit, then use in their cuisines. My mother in law makes a delicious huacatay chicken that I hope I can learn how to make soon and share with you all:). I found several brands online that sell Huacatay paste in United States. My local grocery store only carries the 1st one so I can’t compare to the other 2 and give you a review. Just wanted to let you know that there are options out there.
Peruvian Salsa Verde Recipe and Variations
I love, love, love this green sauce. It gives any food a kick of spice and a wonderful taste. In most Peruvian restaurants I’ve been to, the salsa is served on the side so people can add it to their food as desired. I definitely do that at home, but I also use it as a dip with chips sometimes. I’m sure that’s not the traditional way, but I enjoy that combination as well. Last week when I was cooking Lomo Saltado, I was using some of the extra french fries and dipping them in spicy aji verde while cooking & dancing in my kitchen:).
Some Variations of Salsa Verde
My recipe below is a tried and true recipe that even my Peruvian friends say is as authentic as it gets. However, I also wanted to present you with some variations so you can have options.
- In most US markets you can find aji amarillo paste and in some places actual aji amarillo. Please keep in mind that below recipe uses paste since I can’t find actual yellow chiles.
- Some people add crackers to salsa verde and blend it to create a thicker sauce. I don’t personally do that.
- I also saw some recipes that use cheese, either local cheese in Peru or white cheese. In all the restaurants I have been to, none of the salsa verdes I tried had cheese so I personally don’t add any cheese to my recipe.
- Some people replace mayonnaise for Greek yogurt or thick milk cream.
- I don’t add the following ingredients, but I have seen versions with them so wanted to bring them up: lettuce, green onions, spinach etc.
- I took the pictures of the salsa as soon as I blend it, that’s why it has air bubbles in it. If you use a bigger blender there will be no air bubbles. Also, letting it chill for few minutes in the refrigerator before serving will also make the bubbles go away and the salsa will smoother when served, more creamy like.
Spicy Green Sauce (Peruvian Salsa Verde with Huacatay)
- 2 jalapenos
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro should be about 1-1.5 cups chopped
- 1 lime I use about 1-2 tbsps of fresh lime juice, so you don't need the whole lime
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 0.5 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp aji amarillo paste
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1.5 tbsps huacatay paste
- pinch salt
- 2 tbsps water (optional if you want a runny sauce, not too thick)
- I use a small blender for this sauce. Start by cleaning jalapenos, chopping cilantro and mincing garlic. When chopping cilantro I remove any large stems but I'm not too picky, I just chop as fine as I can on a cutting board.
- De-seed the jalapeno, wash well and chop in large pieces.
- Blend mayonnaise, lime juice, jalapenos and garlic first. Make sure it's a fine blend. It took me about a minute or two to get a very smooth consistency.
- Then add aji amarillo, huacatay, olive oil, salt and chopped cilantro. Continue blending until all the cilantro has been blended and there are no large pieces. If the sauce is too thick, add 2 tbsps of water, blend few more seconds and add to a serving bowl.
- You can chill before serving.
- This portion as described above is about 4 servings for us because we really like the sauce. But I have also noticed people who will not have as much as we do. However, if you have a large party double up the recipe!!
- You can adjust the level of spiciness to your liking. This is very spicy!! It has both jalapenos and aji amarillo, so that’s to be expected. If you can’t handle too much spice, cut the qtys in half. Huacatay is not spicy so no need to cut that.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save the below image to Pinterest. Thank you very much:)
Additional Salsas & Dips Recipes
Check out my other salsas and dips recipes below:
- Chimichurri Sauce (Keto BBQ Condiment) – Argentinian
- Bolivian Llajua – Tomato Salsa
- Albanian Sour Cream Dip – with Walnuts & Garlic