Create this Salsa de Aji Límo and friends will be asking for the recipe at your next party.
This pepper is extremely spicy, but when it’s tempered by cooking in sweet-flavored salsas, such as this Salsa de Aji Límo, the lemony taste is dynamite.
PHOTO: ROB CARDILLO
Let me begin with two warnings: Always wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers; and while cooking them, do not breathe the steam or get it in your eyes. Hot peppers contain volatile oils that can burn sensitive skin. Having said that, the intense heat in ‘Aji Límo’ cooks out and mellows. It is one of those rare peppers that when raw is extremely hot, but once cooked it cools down and releases all sorts of intriguing, subtle flavors. The resulting Salsa de Aji Límo is a bright saffron yellow or rich pumpkin gold, depending on the sweet peppers you use. If you can the salsa in jelly jars as I do, remember that the flavor fades after about six months. You might consider freezing it in small batches, but again, do not keep it for more than six months.
4 ounces fresh ‘Aji Límo’ peppers, seeded and chopped
8 ounces any sweet yellow or orange pepper, seeded and chopped
2 mangoes, pared, pitted and chopped
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups shallot-flavored vinegar (see Note later in instructions)
1/2 cup shredded zest of lime
Combine the peppers, mangoes, sugar, salt, ginger, mustard and vinegar in a deep stew pan and cook until the peppers are soft (about 25 minutes). Purée to a smooth batter consistency in a food processor, then return it to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil and skim off the foam. Cook 15 minutes, then add the lime zest. Pour the salsa into hot, sterilized jars and seal, or serve freshly made at room temperature. Salsa de Aji Límo yields 5 cups.
Note: Shallot-flavored vinegar is an important ingredient because it imparts a subtle “warm” acidity to many dishes. It is easy to make: Fill a clean wine bottle one-third full of peeled shallots. Add white wine vinegar (about 3 cups). Infuse 10 days before using. Strain out the shallots and return the flavored vinegar to the bottle. Cap and store in a dark, cool place until needed.
Read more: Learn more about the history of Aji Límo peppers and how to cultivate them in How to Grow Aji Límo.
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