For me, food and family are intrinsically connected. Many of my most vivid memories as a child revolve around, you guessed it, eating. Born and raised in Peru, I really had no choice at all but to fall in love with food. Cooking and sharing meals with family and friends is central to our culture, and perhaps a reason why food blogging is a natural extension of myself. I may also just be extremely biased and think Peruvian food is the best ever and want you to eat a lot of it all the time forever. I am out of control.
I mentioned sharing. This potato salad you definitely need to share. I mean, look at it, it’s huge. Hey! Here’s another fun fact about Peruvians: we don’t know how to make only a little bit of something, only a whole lot of something, plus more just in case. Modesty is not in our nomenclature.
Papa a la huancaina is a cold potato salad often served as an appetizer or first course at parties. The potatoes are first boiled, peeled, and then sliced before being scattered over fresh lettuce leaves and doused with glorious, spicy, aji amarillo cream sauce. Hard-boiled eggs are cut into quarters and black olives are sliced in half before getting strewn on top. Papa a la huancaina is a delight to eat– it’s unbelievably creamy from the tenuity of the potatoes and the richness of the egg yolks; every bite yields readily in your mouth.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 10 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
- 7 hard-boiled eggs, separated
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 aji amarillo peppers (2 seeded, 1 whole)
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 8 red-skinned potatoes, boiled, peeled, cut into 3/4" slices
- Iceberg lettuce
- Black olives, halved
- Set a small frypan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the yellow onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Let cool cool slightly.
- In a blender, add the onion and garlic mixture, queso fresco, 1 hard-boiled egg, 3/4 teaspoons salt, aji amarillo peppers, and evaporated milk. Puree until absolutely smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Taste for seasonings.
- To serve, arrange iceberg lettuce on bottom of platter. Scatter sliced potatoes over the lettuce and pour huancaina sauce all over. Dot with sliced hard-boiled eggs and black olives. Enjoy!
This is a little on the spicy side. If you'd prefer, you can leave out the seeds from the aji amarillo when you blend it up. Give it a taste and if you want to make it spicier, add some of the seeds in at that point and give it another whir. This way, you can adjust to your palate.
Aji amarillo peppers can be found at Latin American markets. I like to use the whole, frozen kind. You can also use whole, jarred or jarred in paste form. If you're using aji amarillo in paste form, use about 2 tablespoons for this sauce.
// More Peruvian foodstuffs: