Ají Molido

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This South American paste can be used as a substitute whenever fresh chiles are called for. It will keep for two weeks or more in the refrigerator; for longer storage, increase the vinegar and reduce the amount of olive oil. For a red paste, substitute 15 dried New Mexican red chiles, soaked in water. For a green paste, substitute 10 New Mexican green chiles, roasted, peeled, and chopped. For a much hotter paste, add 5 habanero chiles. All chiles should have the seeds and stems removed.

Ingredients

20 fresh yellow ají chiles, or substitute yellow wax hot or jalapeño seeds and stems removed, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree in batches to a fine paste.

Pique de Vinagre y Ajíes Bravos (Bird Pepper Vinegar Pique)

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Here is a classic pique recipe from Puerto Rico. As usual, the longer 
the chiles steep, the hotter the sauce will be. It should be stored in a
bottle with a sprinkler cap so the amount of sauce can be controlled as
it is sprinkled over grilled fish, poultry, or even into salads. Note:
This recipe requires advance preparation.

Ingredients

1 cup cider vinegar
10 to 20 “bird peppers” (chiltepíns), or any small, hot chile, fresh or dry
4 cloves garlic, halved
10 whole peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 sprig fresh oregano, cilantro, or mint (optional)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and allow to steep in the 
refigerator for at least 24 hours to blend the flavors.

Miguel’s Peruvian Ají Sauce

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I grow a lot of Peruvian ají chiles in my garden every year, and I 
always put aside a large bag of them to take to Miguel, our computer
wizard friend from Peru. On my second or third trip to Miguel's (it was
a bumper harvest of chiles), he was having a late lunch with this ají
sauce over his rice.

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
4 or more fresh ají chiles, seeds and stems removed, minced, or
substitute jalapeños
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Instructions

Heat the oil in a small skillet, and when it's hot, add the chiles and 
the garlic, lower the heat, and stir constantly to avoid burning the
garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Simmer for ten minutes
and then serve warm over rice or pasta.

Salsa de Ají (Ecuadorean Fresh Chile Sauce)

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This is a basic but classic Latin American salsa recipe collected in 
Ecuador. Although this recipe calls for the use of an electric blender,
one can follow the traditional method of using a mortar and pestle.
Ecuadorians are very fond of putting beans in their salsa. The most
popular beans are the lupini, which are large white beans about the size
of lima beans. Just add the cooked beans directly to the salsa. Use this
salsa as a dip for chips or as a topping for grilled meats.

Ingredients

2 large tomatoes, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
4 large, fresh ají chiles, seeds and stems removed, chopped or
substitute yellow wax hot or jalapeño
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste

Instructions

Combine the tomatoes, onion, and cilantro in a bowl.
Place the chiles, water, and 3 tablespoons of the tomato and onion
mixture in a blender or processor and puree until smooth.
Add the chile puree to the remaining tomato mixture and mix well. Salt
to taste.

Garlic Mushrooms (Champinones al Ajillo)

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Mushrooms are a popular tapa ingredient all over Spain and they are fried, gilled, marinated, or stuffed. Another popular ingredient is Spanish garlic. Prized around the world for its flavor, it is abundantly used in Spanish cooking There are many variations of mushrooms and garlic but the following with chile is one of my favorites. White, button mushrooms are traditionally used, but any mushroom, such as a sliced portobello or cremini mushroom, are a good substitute. If you have access to wild mushrooms, they are wonderful in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil, virgin Spanish oil preferred

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper

  • ½ pound mushroom caps, rinsed and drained

  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chile

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

In a heavy frying pan over high heat, heat the oil, add the garlic and saute until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and continue to saute for an additional minute.

Add the mushrooms, sherry, lemon juice, and chile. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms are browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the mushrooms either hot or at room temperature.