Aji (pronounced like a sneeze — ah-hee)

Joe just loves spicy foods so when we found that many of the restaurants here in Salinas make a fresh red pepper sauce he was thrilled. I started making my own version right after we moved here. It is a close reproduction of that found at D’Hugos and is added to almost everything I make.

This morning the Salinas Mercado had some beautiful red chillies that screamed for me to take them home. So I did.

What I taste when I have used this condiment is very spicy red chilies so I keep the seeds in. Garlic, onion, cilantro and vinegar complete the sauce. Some days I mix everything together and pop it in the refrigerator. Today I decided to heat the vinegar and add the chili mixture allowing it to come back up to the boil and then jar it. We will see if this makes it hotter – Joe is the tester and the final say on if it hot enough.

9 thoughts on “Aji (pronounced like a sneeze — ah-hee)

  1. What I love to eat when I was there in Salinas at Laostra Nostra is the Cazuela de Camaron. It would be great if you could duplicate that one too and publish the recipe here. Thanks!

    • Rolie
      I do not know Laostra Nostra where is it located? I have had cazuela several times and just did not find it very appealing so I would like to try your suggestion and see. My friend Birty who runs the Lov n Oven Restaurant in the Doral building has wanted me to try hers many times but I just did not want to give up her Corvina Encocado to try something that I have had and did not like. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Let us know if it passed the “Joe” test. Do they have scotch bonnet or habanero peppers in Salinas? Thanks for sharing the recipe!


    • Hi Bob – well after I let the jar sit for about 3 hours I had Joe make a taste test, “Not so hot I taste more vinegar than heat” is what I got but when I tasted one itty bitty piece my mount burst into flames. I think it is plenty hot! We will see with the next sandwich that he has what he thinks and that could be this afternoon because I am baking bread this morning. As to scotch bonnets or habanero peppers I have only found nice green fresh jalapenos at Hippermart and pickle them for Joe as well. Joe and I have a game that we play, wait 6 months and something that you ordered from the US that was not found here will be on the store shelves. It may not be on the shelf for long and once gone you may never see it again! Have a great Sunday!

  3. Hi Nancy, your jar of aji looks quite tempting! I come from the land of Calypso and hot sauce so “spicy” to me is like very mild. Our “spicy” sauce in Trinidad is often made from scotch bonnet peppers that originated in Africa, and they are hotter than most peppers around the world. Over the years, our hot sauces from the Caribbean have blended these peppers with other ingredients to make them milder and tastier. One of the more successful companies doing this is Matouks. It makes all sorts of seasonings for meat, picked stuff, etc. and their flavor is incredible. I bring a few bottles of Matouks whenever I go to Ecuador and they all love it. There are several companies in the US selling it also. Check out this link:

    I will bring you one the next time I visit.


    • Leon, thanks for your comment. I would love a jar of the Matouks, this may finally satisfy Joes need for heat!! ha ha I tried to find a rating for the five sauces that are made, I would say Joe would love the hottest one they have. When living outside of Atlanta we had a Caribbean restaurant near Marietta on 41 we loved going there, never knew what we were eating but what different spices and flavors, just yummy…

  4. Pingback: Morning Update – Sunday, July 24, 2011 « South of Zero

  5. The photos look good enough to make me salivate! Do you take special precautions in handling the chilies? I’ve heard they can easily cause temporary skin and eye problems if any gets near your face. Or are these chilies not that extreme hot variety? Great post! Thank you.

    • Hi Sharon, Most times I do wear gloves, this time I didn’t but did most of the chopping in the food processor. Any chilies not handled properly can cause “the big hurt” don’t think about touching your eyes or nose or any part of your face as it will go numb but these did not seem to be particularly hot. But I should have worn gloves, my hands even from that little bit of contact were a bit tingly for a few hours… I do know better but sometimes you just don’t think!!!

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