Aji Mirasol is a mild Peruvian pepper whose name means “looking at the sun.” It has a unique sweet, fruity flavor with a mild lingering heat and is often used in sauces and salsas.So how does this pepper differ from one of a similar name– the Aji Amarillo?
Aji Mirasol is the sun-dried version of the aji amarillo pepper, offering a distinctly fruiter flavor than its fresh counterpart.
Where are Aji Mirasol and Aji Amarillo Peppers Grown?
Aji mirasol and aji amarillo peppers are one and the same, with the former being the name given to the Aji pepper after it has been dried in the sun. Aji peppers are native to Peru, mostly grown on trees along the southern coast, where it can receive the most direct sunlight. Therefore, anyone who wishes to cultivate aji pepper will need to provide the plant with warm conditions and ample sunlight for it to thrive.
What Does Aji Mirasol Tatse Like?
The flavor of an aji mirasol pepper is unique and not one you would typically expect from a chili pepper. Ahi mirasol peppers are often described as having a fruity taste that is similar to peaches or apricots; the process of drying the peppers in the sun subdues their natural spiciness and concentrates this signature fruit flavor. Once cooked, the flavors of the aji mirasol pepper open up and become even more pronounced.
What Does Aji Amarillo Taste Like?
A fresh aji amarillo pepper has a flavor profile just as enchanting as it does when dried– juicy and tropical with a slight kick of heat. The aji amarillo is comparable in flavor to a scotch bonnet pepper, though it is significantly less spicy.
How to Use Aji Mirasol
Since aji mirasol peppers are dried, the recipes that call for them will be slightly different than those that include fresh peppers. Some of the most common uses of aji mirasol include:
- Rehydrated and added to salsas
- Toasted along with other spices as part of a soup or stew base
- Ground into a paste or powder
- Added to a marinade for grilled meats
Using a dried chili like the aji mirasol typically involves rehydrating the pepper to some degree unless you intend to grind it into a powder or use dried flakes of the pepper as a condiment.
How to Use Aji Amarillo
Aji amarillo is the crisp, juicy, fresh version on the aji pepper. This one doesn’t require rehydrating and can simply be chopped or sauteed. Some dishes that use fresh aji amarillo include:
- Fish ceviche
- Peruvian potato salad (Papa la Hauncaina)
- Fresh salsas
- Peruvian seafood soup (Parihuela)
The applications of aji amarillo are limitless, try adding it to any recipe that needs a fresh crunch and medium heat.
Where to Buy Aji Mirasol and Aji Amarillo
Though these peppers have a unique flavor that is difficult to pin down, they are not an ingredient that’s difficult to track down. Aji amarillo peppers are sold fresh in the produce section of most supermarkets, and you can find aji mirasol peppers in either dried or paste form in the Latin foods section of major grocery stores.
How to Store Aji Mirasol
Dried peppers such as Aji Mirasol are shelf-stable and can be used for up to four years depending on the conditions they are stored in, though they are best when used within 6 months. Aji Mirasols need to be kept in an airtight container or ziplock bag in a pantry, cupboard, or freezer.
How to Store Aji Amarillo
Since aji amarillo is fresh produce and therefore not shelf-stable, it will need to be kept in either the refrigerator or freezer to maximize their shelf life. Aji Amarillos can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to six months.
Aji mirasol and aji amarillo are the same pepper, the former being a sundried pepper and the latter being fresh. The process of drying the aji pepper accentuates the uniquely fruity, peach-like flavor of the pepper and tames its heat, leading to different culinary applications. Aji peppers can be bought at most supermarkets and have shelf lives of up to four years if purchased dried, making them a fantastic ingredient to pick up next time you’re looking to add an exciting kick to your meal!