Peru is a hotbed of peppers. They come in many varieties and are used in many ways, sometimes even in marmalades and jams.
The rocoto is one of the classic hot peppers of Peru, although it is a member of the capisicum pubescens species while most of Peru’s peppers are either capsicum chinense or capsicum baccatum. It comes in a rounded shape and has different sizes and colors.
Within Cuzco the rocoto is much consumed. Every day it finds its place to tables in houses and restaurants as part of the hot sauce, whether ground or simply minced and combined with minced onion and lime juice. This picante, or uchu, as we call something spicy like this, is just basic to our food and out way of life.
Besides being an important condiment, it is also the key ingredient in two dishes that symbolically stand for Cuzco, our stuffed rocotos and our suflé de rocoto (rocoto soufflé). Besides representing our city and region, these dishes are exquisite. They can be served as main dishes alone or can be sides to other dishes from our city.
You can also make a wonderful and surprising marmalade from our rocotos, although not many people yet do. It seems strange to many to take this very hot fruit and turn it into a dessert, though some people do so.
In older times, however, it was common. This is just one of many foods that seem to have been lost in modern days. Few people seem to remember it now.
stick cinnamon, sugar, and rocotos.
First, clean the rocotos of their seeds and veins, then rinse them in abundant water. Then bring them to a boil three different times in fresh water, to help remove the heat from the fruit. Drain.
Now add two cups of water along with stick cinnamon. Boil for fifteen minutes and then remove the sticks of cinnamon. To the water add the rocotos as well as sugar. Let them boil for fifteen minutes. Finally, once it has completed that time, let the concoction chill until it thickens. You now have a delicious marmalade of rocoto.
Some commentary. You might wish to add some chancaca with the sugar for flavor. You may also wish to remove the skin from the rocoto, either before adding it to the sugar or once it is boiling and the skin separates you may remove it.
Enjoy this delightful and unusual dish.
The rocoto, or locoto in Bolivia, is not commonly found outside of the Andes because the fruit does not ship well. Nevertheless, you can purchase frozen rocotos in Peruvian stores wherever they are found or in Mexican stores you can often find a very similar pepper, the Mexican Chile Manzano.