Latin American tagged posts

Happy Halloween: Papa a la Huancaína Soup

This mildly spiced cheese and potato soup is my twist on the classic Peruvian dish, Papa a la Huancaína (sliced cold potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce). My soup has just enough heat to gently warm your bones – but not enough heat to awaken the bones of the dead – on a chilly Halloween night. Add more aji amarillo if you’re feeling devilish.


Papa a la Huancaína Soup

Serves 6

Aji amarillo peppers are orange-fleshed, medium-hot Peruvian chili peppers, which are prized for their unique fruitiness and imported from Peru. Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow. Look for frozen aji amarillo chili peppers or jarred aji amarillo paste in Latin American grocery stores. Check my Grocery Store Directory to find a Latin American grocery store in your area.

Queso fresco is a Mexican fresh white cheese. You can find it in Latin American grocery stores and sometimes in regular grocery stores, such as Paul’s nofrills at Bristol Road and Creditview Road in Streetsville.


Local Dairy in Ingersoll, Ontario produces queso fresco under the LaVaquita brand name (photo not shown), using authentic Latin American recipes and techniques. It is made from fresh milk that is delivered daily from local farms in the Oxford County area. The nearest store where we can find LaVaquita Queso Fresco regularly is the Sobey’s on Queensway, beside the Ontario Food Terminal. Local Dairy also produces other Latin American dairy products (Queso Oaxaca, Queso Duro, Queso Chihuahua, and Crema, all under the LaVaquita name) and Indian dairy products. I was lucky enough to sample their delicious cheeses and dairy products recently, at the Delicious Food Show. I hope we will find Local Dairy products in our neighborhood stores in the future. Next time I am in my local grocery store, I’m going to ask if they can bring in Local Dairy products.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)

4 yellow aji amarillo chili peppers, defrosted (or 1/2 cup jarred aji amarillo paste)

6 medium yellow-fleshed potatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon coarse salt

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 cups water

3 cups grated queso fresco (Mexican fresh white cheese)

1 (370 ml) can fat-free evaporated skim milk or 2%

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lime, cut into sixths

Garnishes: chopped pitted sun-dried black olives, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro


  1. If using whole aji amarillo peppers, seed and devein them; roughly chop.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, potatoes, and chopped peppers (if using aji amarillo paste instead of frozen peppers, don’t add it yet); season with thyme and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Sauté until onions are softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add water (and aji amarillo paste if using in place of the peppers); bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Carefully transfer soup to the large bowl of a food processor; add cheese and then process until smooth.
  6. Return soup to pot. Add evaporated milk.
  7. Bring soup to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until cheese has melted a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with lime wedges and garnishes.

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Latin Love Affair: Olive’s Shrimp Tacos

Move over beef tacos, there’s a new dish in town. My Shrimp Tacos are easy, healthy, and packed with refreshing flavour. Succulent pre-cooked shrimp are briefly marinated in cilantro, mint, lime, garlic, aji amarillo paste, sugar, and salt – a mouthwatering melody of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. Served in a soft tortilla spread with avocado purée and a lick of lime juice, they are everything I want in a shrimp taco. My son named them his new favourite food. Olive to make my son happy!


Aji amarillo paste is a simple blend of orange-fleshed, medium-hot Peruvian chili peppers, which are prized for their unique fruitiness. Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow. Although very common in Peruvian cooking, aji amarillo peppers can be hard to find here. I was thrilled to find aji amarillo paste (sold in jars)


and the much sought-after, frozen, whole aji amarillo peppers (imported from Peru) in Latin Super Chicken Rotisserie – a little Latin American grocery store that also sells Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, located at the corner of Queen and Britannia, in Streetsville. I confirmed by phone that the stores Rincon de Espana in Port Credit and El Tropical in Oakville also carry aji amarillo paste.


Olive’s Shrimp Tacos

Serves 3 to 4

If you can’t find aji amarillo paste, Tabasco sauce is an adequate substitute for this recipe.

Marinade Ingredients:

1 lime

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 large clove of garlic

1 teaspoon aji amarillo paste (Peruvian yellow hot pepper paste)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Taco Ingredients:

454 g (1 lb.) frozen cooked, peeled shrimp 61/70

1 avocado

2 green onions, finely sliced

8 medium soft flour tortillas

1 lime, quartered

Optional garnish:

Extra coriander sprigs


  1. Defrost shrimp according to package directions; drain. Remove tail shells and discard. Place shrimp in a paper-towel-lined bowl, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour to drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, grate the lime zest into the bowl of a small food processor. Juice the lime and add to the zest; add remaining marinade ingredients and then process until well-blended.
  3. Pour out 1 tablespoon of marinade and set aside in fridge for later use with the avocado. Pour remaining marinade in a large, re-sealable Ziploc bag and seal. Refrigerate until 1 hour before eating.
  4. One hour before eating, place shrimp in marinade bag. Squeeze out the air and seal tightly. Massage the marinade into the shrimp until evenly coated. Place in the fridge and marinade for 1 hour.
  5. Just before serving, warm tortillas in the oven as per package instructions.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado into a purée. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon reserved marinade and stir thoroughly. Spread ⅛th of the avocado puree on one half of each tortilla.
  7. Dump marinated shrimp into a colander set in the sink and drain briefly. Place about ⅛th of the shrimp on top of the avocado puree. Sprinkle with green onions and fresh coriander sprig, if desired. Fold other half of tortilla over.
  8. Serve with immediately with lime wedges.

You can find aji amarillo paste at:

Latin Super Chicken Rotisserie
17 Queen Street North A5,
Mississauga, ON
L5N 6A1
Telephone: 905-369-0420
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from  11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. & Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.


El Tropical
391 Kerr Street,
Oakville, ON
L6K 3B9
Telephone: 905-845-9262

Rincon De Espana Inc.
550 Lakeshore Road East
Mississauga, ON
L5G 1J3
Telephone: 905-274-2109

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