Peruvian Ocopa Antigua de Arequipa (8 servings)
2 lbs. medium potatoes
1 lb. onion, diced
6 yellow ajis
1 Huacatay sprig (Tagetes minuta, or mexican marigold), no substitution
1 lb. Anejo cheese
1 cup milk
1/2 lb. toasted peanuts
4 Mirasol chiles
oil or lard (not too much)
Boil the potatoes. Fry the mirasols, trying to toast them well but
not burn them, same thing with the onions and yellow ajis. Put
everything into blender, adding the cheese and thinning a little
with the milk. You don't want it runny, but a medium-thick sauce.
Coarsely chop the peanuts, in a mortar, food processor or even the
blender. Add it to the sauce along with the huacatay, blend well,
correct the seasoning with salt, and add oil to taste. Serve the
thick sauce over the potatoes.
Notes: The combination of the chiles with the peanut and cheese is
enhanced with the distinguishable taste of the huacatay, and again,
there are no substitutes IMHO, for this herb.
My understanding is that in Peru they use a yellow potato that
isn't widely available here. Since I don't have garden space to
grow it anyway (too many peppers), I substitute Yukon Gold potatoes,
which my local grocery store carries.
Aji means simply "chile pepper", but the specific variety called
for, aji amarillo, usually refers to C. Baccatum, var. pendulum.
This is a moderately sized pepper, 4"-6" in length, with a fruity
taste and a clear, searing heat. Yellow habs or scotch bonnets
could be substituted if you don't have ajis.
Huatacay can be obtained from "Seeds of Change" or "Richter's".
In other cookbooks I've seen turmeric called for as a substitute,
but this imparts only the yellow color, not the taste, of the real
The step where you fry the onions and peppers is the one to watch
out for...this is when you're likely to fumigate your house with
chile gas, so be prepared to cry.