Uchucuta Sauce

At our first breakfast in Cusco, Peru, when staying at the Hotel Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, there was lovely display of a green sauce with little clay cups for self-serving. I love just about everything green, and I’m addicted to condiments, so I put some on my eggs. I started small not knowing the heat level (see the little blob of green on my egg?!

What was especially nice, for me, was that a recipe was propped up next to the sauce.

It turned out the sauce was fairly mild, so during our time in Peru pretty much everything I ate got slathered with this stuff!

I took a photo of the recipe to I could recreate it at home. I had no idea how challenging that would be. The main ingredient is sachatomates, also known as tamarillos. I happened to have taken a photo of a tamarillo tree in Cuzco, without knowing what the fruits were. And, in a hotel room in Cartagena there were tamarillos in a bowl.

I recently discovered that another name for these are tree tomatoes, and ordered a box from Tropical Fruit Box, out of Miami, Florida. They sell quite an assortment of fruits! (What’s trending now are pink pineapples!) But, when I compare the photos, are they the same fruit?

My other stumbling block was finding green rocoto chile peppers. When you google their images, this is what you get: Only red.

When I looked for the peppers on Amazon, I found only red sauces, no green.

Obviously this is a green sauce, so I’m not going to add a red chile pepper paste to it, but I bought some just for fun. (It’s super hot!!) I decided instead to substitute jalapenos.

The next problem is huacatay, pronounced “wah-ka-tay.” It’s also known as Peruvian black mint. Since I didn’t have any of this mint, I bought a jar of the paste.

I have cilantro, peanuts, and salt and pepper, so I moved on with this Peruvian salsa, fingers crossed. Here is the recipe provided at the hotel’s restaurant.

Uchucuta Sauce

4 sachatomates
1 green rocoto chile pepper
100 grams cilantro
100 grams Peruvian black mint
100 grams peanuts
Salt, pepper

Peel, de-seed and dice the sachatomates.
Boil and dice the chiles.
Grind all of the ingredients until they form a sauce.
Leave the mixture thicken for 2 hours.

My first issue with these sachatomates/tamarillos/tree tomatoes, is that they cannot be peeled with a normal peeler, so I sliced them lengthwise in quarters, removed the seeds, and did my best with my knife to gather the flesh only. You can see that the flesh is thin.

I then boiled the diced jalapenos for a minute, as per the directions, weighed out the cilantro and peanuts.

I placed the fruit flesh in the food processor jar, along with the drained jalapenos, then added the cilantro and a tablespoon of the mint paste.

Then it was the peanuts, salt and pepper. I pulsed away, not wanting to make it too smooth, although I’ve since seem some photos of Uchucuta that looks like green soup!

In the recipe, a batán is recommended, which to me must be an equivalent of a molcajete, so I used mine to make the salsa a little smoother and greener.

This is what one looks like. Photo from Cuzcoeats.com

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I made eggs and potatoes, which are eaten with uchucuta sauce, also known as uchukuta. Meats are also recommended for this condiment.

After tasting the sauce, it was so mild that I added another jalapeno, and it was still mild.

But it’s good! I just wish I had some mint, even if it isn’t Peruvian black mint.

And, it turns out, that these hard-to-find sachatomates aren’t even that important to this sauce. Oh well. Was this still fun? You betcha.

It’s been so long since we were in Peru that I don’t know if the taste is the same, but I doubt it. And in other recipes, I see feta cheese, and no sachatomates. Interesting.

I have about 30 more sachatomates to eat. They’re good, really tart, but good vitamin C to last the whole pandemic!

My friend took some and turned them into a salsa, which was delicious!

59 thoughts on “Uchucuta Sauce

  • Well, I don’t know if I will ever make this condiment but I sure did learn a lot from reading your post. I definitely would try the condiment if I could buy it ready made.

  • Mimi, I experienced tamarillos in New Zealand, but not in a salsa. I remember we scooped out the flesh and ate it spread on toast and sprinkled with sugar. I think I’d enjoy tamarillos far more in your Uchucuta Sauce. We have a Peruvian restaurant in nearby Copenhagen, that I’ll see if they serve this ounce the travel quarantines are lifted and we’ve had our jabs…

    • Oh how exciting! The food in Peru was outstanding! Tamarillos that I had were very tart, but kind of addicting. I can see the flesh on toast with sugar.

  • Really fun post! Haven’t heard of this sauce (or of tamarillos) — always love learning new things. There are so many variations on “green” sauce in the world, aren’t there? This looks like a good one. Thanks.

  • What a fascinating recipe! The sauce is so intriguing and I think it would be interesting to go on an ingredient scavenger hunt! We do have so many international markets here in the greater Los Angeles region, and I’m suspecting if I give it some time I can source even the hardest things to find. And thank you for introducing me to the Tropical Fruit box. I’m very curious about that as well! :-)

    • Oh, you live in LA?!!! I’m so jealous. I remember going to some of those markets when I was younger. Certainly a wonderful source for Asian and Mexican ingredients. The Tropical Fruit Box company has just about everything. Like Harry and David, but devoted to tropical fruits. I want to use them for gifts.

  • The word sachatomates would have also confounded me. But I know about tamarillos as a friend of mine grows them. You certainly went to a lot of effort for this sauce. We are not as lucky as you with such diverse ingredients :)

    • I use Amazon a lot! But I still wasn’t able to get the fresh chile peppers and black mint. Oh well!

  • To peel the Tamarillos – like Tomatoes, drop them into some boiling water for a few seconds and the skins peel easily.

    The sauce sounds intriguing and would love to make some. Interesting reading. How nice that they supplied the recipe as well. :))

      • I have done it to make chutney without all the skin. Also for sweet pies where you don’t want a mouthful of skin. :))

  • Love the research you did to make this sauce! That seems like a fun project to me too–I’ve never even heard of half of these ingredients! Glad your end result was tasty. :)

  • Such a beautiful foods for us. They are so new and would love examine sauce closely and taste it. Thank you for sharing. Have a nice day.

    • I wish I could have found them green, but the red chile pepper paste was outstanding! Super hot! Can you find black mint? checking out your post…

  • Not something I would make – too many different ingredients that I would have to buy! Very interesting though… You have a garden so you could always grow your own black mint from seeds even in containers. The Chefs Garden sells it but rather pricey – I didn’t look further to see if any plants were available. I love mint(s) of all kinds and it would be an important ingredient in your sauce.

  • I always enjoy reading and learning about other cultures’ cuisines and it would be a dream come true to visit Peru someday. I’ve not heard of this condiment, but it sounds delicious and I’d heap it on top of everything too! Love the heat!!

    • Peru, and more specifically, Machu Piccu, has been on our list forever, and it was truly magical. Cusco was fascinating as well, plus all the other areas we visited in Peru. I miss traveling so much. Yes, one could really put it on anything and everything!

  • Peru is on our travel list Mimi. I once stayed in a hostel when hiking in Scotland and the owner had hiked extensively around peru and taken many photographs of the scenery and people which made me had to add it to our travel list. Hopefully one day when we get there I’ll be on the lookout of this Uchucata Sauce too!

    • I hope you get to Peru soon, although you appear to be a young man! Many years left for you, but a very important destination. I think my husband and I discussed Machu Piccu the first time we met, or so it seems. Really glad we finally got there. But Peru ended up being so much more than Machu Piccu!

  • What an interesting post, Mimi! First of all, I appreciate that the hotel had the recipe right there for everyone to see – like you, I probably would’ve snapped a photo in order to make the recipe again back home. As far as all of those unique ingredients, it seems like you did a pretty good job of recreating this one! Sometimes it’s really fun to take on projects like that, and it looks like you were rewarded for your efforts here!

    • Rewarded to an extent, but not completely satisfied. I’m waiting on black mint and rocoto chile pepper seeds in the mail, so later this year I can try again! Thanks, David.

    • Oh goodness how exciting! It’s impossible to forget that name! Was the restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental?

    • Thanks, Raymond. I just started some black mint seeds yesterday. Fingers crossed that they’ll do well, and then I can try the recipe again!

  • This was so informative and it looks absolutely delicious! I’ll definitely be looking up the version with feta that you mentioned, because I imagine I’d be hard-pressed to find some of these ingredients in Dubai!

    • Oh, well who knows! I’ve just planted black mint so at the end of summer I can hopefully make a better version!

    • Presently I’m growing baby black mint, but the rocoto pepper seeds haven’t sprouted yet. If they do I’ll buy more tamarillos and make another attempt!

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