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?! I went back for more.
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.
1 green rocoto chile pepper
100 grams cilantro
100 grams Peruvian black mint
100 grams peanuts
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
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!