On my reentry bucket list in these last months is to learn some recipes that my family loves. I have learned many recipes in my time here, mostly from Manuela. But today, Etelvina made a special trip to our home to show me her ways in Ocopa (a creamy spicy, yellow sauce). Ocopa is used in a dish called “Papa a la Huancaína.” You can read the origin of the plate at this link. Arequipa has its own twist on the dish. It is typically served as a starter, but when using big potatoes (which is what I used today), it is very filling. When I say that my family loves this dish, ALL of us ask for more sauce. At the end of the meal, the kids are always drinking up their extra ocopa like they would the milk from a bowl of cereal.
Etelvina brought all the ingredients for the ocopa (the sauce), and I had to provide the rest. The rest includes boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, and purple olives. I bought all of my ingredients in the bodega one block from my home for under 2 dollars. Man, I love Peruvian bodegas. 🙂
So… I give you the step by step directions for making Ocopa and then how to assemble a plate of Papa a la Huancaína.
- 5 ají verde (and yes, I know they aren’t green)
- 2 dientes (teeth) of ajo (garlic)
- saltine crackers and animal crackers
- 1 large onion
(This recipe is enough for 10 large potatoes)
1. Lavar aji verde. Clean the peppers very well.
2. Sacar semilla de aji. Remove all the seeds and “guts” from the peppers. This removes the spicy.
3. If cooking for people that like spicy food, leave the peppers alone. If cooking for children, rub the halves together very well under water to remove the spicy. Cut away any excess “guts.” Frotándole.
4. Freírlos. Cut the ajís and place them into a hot skillet coated with oil. Add the garlic and huatacay. Fry them until their are golden. Freír hasta se doren (doraditos).
5. While frying, remove shells from peanuts. You only need a half-handful of peanuts.
6. Remove Aji mixture into a bowl. Add peanuts (maní) and crackers (saltine and animal).
7. Cortar cebolla. Cut up the onion and fry in the same pan as the peppers. Allow to get black specks and soften.
8. Poner todo en la liquadora. Put everything in a blender.
9. Add water until all the ingredients are covered. Also add about 1 tsp of salt.
Blend away! The color will go from this…
Somebody is hungry and happy about Vina’s cookin’…
10. Taste test. If you want it thicker, add more crackers. Add more salt or garlic based on your taste preference.
And now, prepare the Papa a la Huancaína: place a large lettuce leave to the side of a plate. Put the potato down. Pour the ocopa over the potato. Lay the egg halves and olives in front of the potato, and lay a tomato slice on top of potato. Wah-lah!
Finally, enjoy with some Peruvians that you have come to LOVE. We love you so much, Etelvina and Arelí!!!!!!!! We will cherish afternoons like this!