Ají panca is an ingredient you’ll see a lot of in Peruvian cuisine. It’s usually used as a paste or as a powder, also. Here I teach you how to make your own ají panca paste, ideal to make lots of and freeze for then you need it. It will freeze up to a year without a problem.
Ají panca paste (panca chili paste)
If you’ve never tried ají panca (panca chilli), it’s reaaally good. It has an intense red colour, it’s not spicy if cleaned, and it has a slightly smoky flavour, like paprika. It adds a special flavour to Peruvian dishes. I use it on my ají de gallina, fish escabeche, shrimp chupe. You’ll find it on several other Peruvian recipes as well! Ají panca paste is really easy to make. I like to make a lot and then freeze it. You can freeze it in ice cubes, in a container or in reusable bags. It lasts up to a year frozen, but only 3 days refrigerated because it turns to vinegar quickly. If you live outside of Perú, you can usually get these ingredients in Latin shops or even on amazon.
Panca chilli paste or ají panca chilli paste is part of the trilogy of chilis often used in Peruvian cuisine. They are: yellow chili (ají amarillo), mirasol (ají mirasol) and this one, the panca. The panca paste adds a very special flavour to dishes, don’t opt out of it if a recipe asks for it. If you like this recipe, you should also check out my ají mirasol paste recipe and my ají amarillo paste recipe.
Ají panca paste, like other pastes, is usually added with the sofrito. A typical set of ingredients would be onion, garlic and one or several chilli pastes. Sautéeing the chilli pastes makes them more intense and brings out the flavour even more. I even used this paste in a Fusion recipe: my Peri-Peri Sauce using Peruvian chillies.
- 200 g dried ají panca
- Vegetable oil 50-150ml
- Dried ají panca comes in two options of presentations: whole or clean. If it's whole, you want to chop off the tips, open it in half and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and veins.
- Place the chili in a pot and cover it with water at room temperature.
- Place the pot over medium-high heat and let it boil for 10-15min for the chilis to soften.
- Drain the water and place the chilis in a blender or food processor along with 50ml (about 5 tbsp) of vegetable oil.
- Turn on the blender or food processor and add more oil a little at a time, just enough for the blender or processor to turn the chilies into a paste.
- Remove from the blender or food processor and freeze in ice cube trays, containers or reusable bags. You can freeze it for up to a year.