Recipes, Traditional Food

Outstanding Peanut and Cheese Uchukuta (Hot Sauce)

Ingredients for First Grinding (Walter Coraza Morveli)

For the mother’s day feast of huatia, earth-roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes accompanied by tallarines al horno (oven-baked fettuccine) and a pork cutlet, as well as baked guinea pig, my comadre doña Mercedes made up this wonderful uchukuta (hot sauce).  It was frankly one of the best I have ever tasted.  It was characterized by a complex and layered flavor, that is nutty and rich, with that amazing edge of piny sharpness of the rocoto.

To figure out how she did it and a recipe I asked her and then spoke with her son who helped her throughout the process.  This is what I came up with.

This makes an all purpose table sauce but is especially good on earth-baked potatoes (as we had it), in soups, and on grilled meats.

Ingredients:

1 sprig fresh huacatay, or bottled or frozen huakatay if the fresh is not available. (Huacatay, also pelled wakatay, is available in Peruvian and Latin groceries in the United States.) 

Homemade Uchukuta (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Homemade Uchukuta (Walter Coraza Morveli)

1 sprig of cilantro

1 sprig Italian parsley

I clove fresh garlic, peeled

1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted peanuts (best if home roasted)

1 rocoto or chile manzano, seeded and sliced.

1/4 lb. mild farmer’s cheese such as paneer or other such. 

salt to taste.

Preparation:

This sauce is best made in a mortar and pestle. In Cuzco it is made on a batan, a long flat rock with a largish rocking piece, although you can use a Mexican molcajete that is well broken in or some other good mortar and pestle. These will give it the proper textures. 

To make it this way, place all the ingredients, sliced if wanted, on the mortar and grind until a paste is obtained in which flecks of the greens rest.

You might wish to first grind the garlic with the salt, add the pepper and the peanuts, then the greens and the cheese, working at each stem to obtain a paste, although not a completely smooth one.

Otherwise you can work with a food processor. Add all the ingredients cut into workable pieces and pulse until you obtain a paste in which spots of the greens are still found. 

Depending on your ingredients you may need to adjust the recipe to get the exact right combination that pleases you by adding a little more or a little less of any given element.

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