Aji Amarillo is a variety of chilli pepper which originates from South America. Despite being relatively unheard of in the UK, these peppers have long been an essential ingredient in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine. In fact, rock carvings from the Moche civilization show that these peppers were highly regarded almost 2000 years ago.
Rico Picante are relatively new to the chilli industry, but their authentic Peruvian sauces have already received several accolades. Today I will be reviewing their Amarillo sauce which landed a gold, 1 star award in the 2011 Great Taste Awards.
As I pick up the bottle, I can’t help but feel that I should be wearing sunglasses. The sauce is bright yellow and its vibrant colour conjures up thoughts of warmth and sunshine. The label is also very striking and my attention is instantly drawn to the Rico Picante and Great Taste logos. The mosaic border which adorns the top of the label is a nice touch and helps make the product look very enticing.
Taking a moment to admire the rest of the label, I notice that the product name isn’t immediately obvious as the light text on a yellow background is a little difficult to read. There is also a “Peruvian Chilli Peppers” emblem which makes the front of the bottle look a little cluttered. Both of these are minor criticisms and the overall presentation of the product is very good.
Aji Amarillo (70%), Vinegar, Vegetable Oil, Water, Garlic, Salt and Citric Acid
Bottle kindly provided by Rico Picante.
As I remove the cap, the familiar citrus tones of the Amarillo chilli emanate from the bottle. There is also a hint of garlic, but the chilli is the dominant aroma.
The sauce pours easily from the bottle with no coaxing required. I try a small spoonful at first and take time to savour it. I am promptly greeted by the delicate flavour of the Aji Amarillo chilli. There are undertones of garlic too, but they are nothing but complimentary. With such a high percentage of chilli making up this product, I would be disappointed if the subtleties of this chilli had been lost. Fortunately, the balance of flavours is superb.
The Aji Amarillo chilli registers around 40,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, so this sauce is pleasantly warm. I think the medium rating Rico Picante have given this product is appropriate.
During the past week I have used this sauce habitually. It works equally well as both a table sauce and a cooking ingredient. A few months ago, I remember seeing a recipe on Saturday Kitchen which called for the use of Aji Amarillo paste. At the time I was unable to source any, but this sauce would make a perfect substitute. The Rico Picante website also has some great Peruvian recipes including Tuna Ceviche. Personally, I am looking forward to mixing this with some mayonnaise to make a dip for some prawns or crayfish tails.
A 150ml bottle of Rico Picante Amarillo will set you back around £3.50, but I consider this to be good value given the high chilli content of this sauce. You can purchase Rico Picante products from Fortnum & Mason and several online retailers including ChilliPepperPete, Scorchio and The Devils Garden