Andean Yellow Chile and Epazote Salsa (Salsa de Ají Escabeche y Paico)

Dora Asmat, a cook who keeps the archaeologists at Huaca de la Luna well fed, makes this spicy sauce at her small restaurant Don Merce, in the town of Moche. Asmat cooks outdoors, and the main feature of her kitchen is the batan (stone mortar) that she inherited from her grandmother. Growing beside it is epazote, an herb most often associated with Mexican cooking; in Peru, it is called paico.

Andean Yellow Chile and Epazote Salsa (Salsa de Ají Escabeche y Paico)
This Peruvian salsa makes good use of epazote, a pungent, astringent herb—popular in Latin cooking—that mellows to add an earthiness when cooked.
Yield: makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 13 cup water
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 14 large fresh epazote leaves
  • 8 fresh or frozen ají escabeche (yellow Andean), Holland, or banana chiles, seeded, deveined, and chopped
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Put water, lime juice, epazote, and chiles into a blender; purée until smooth. Transfer salsa to a bowl, season with salt to taste, and serve at room temperature spooned, if you like, over halved boiled potatoes (such as Yukon Gold).