Flank Steak Tacos with Spicy Aji Amarillo Sauce

A fuji armadillo wha-wha-what?

Do not fret my friends, I shall explain.

Aji amarillo, or yellow pepper, is one of the most popular ingredients in traditional Peruvian cuisine. And for all intents and purposes, it will be more of an orange-lookin’ pepper by the time you actually cook with it. As the pepper matures, it deepens in color.

Like so.

These pretty little things have a medium spice to them; I would say they’re spicier than a jalapeno but milder than a serrano. You can find aji amarillo in a variety of ways, such as, frozen, canned, or already mixed into a ready-to-use sauce. I usually prefer to seek out the frozen kind so I have more flexibility in terms of how I want to use them. If you’re lucky enough to have a latin american grocery store in your neck of the woods, you will most likely find aji amarillo there.

For this recipe in particular, I used frozen aji amarillo peppers which I thawed and then seeded and chopped. As with any hot pepper, have caution when handling these. So, try not to play around with your eyes, face, or any other sensitive areas on your body for that matter. Eww. Moving on.

You can definitely make this spicy aji amarillo sauce in advance. It should keep in your fridge for about a week. Here’s how I did it:


1 1/2 aji amarillo peppers; seeded and chopped roughly

1/2 C. mayonnaise, preferably homemade

1/2 lime; juiced

1 T. heavy whipping cream or half-and-half; to thin sauce

S & P


Place the aji amarillo, mayonnaise, lime juice, and salt and pepper into a blender. Mix. Once the aji amarillo is pretty well incorporated and the mixture has turned a slight orange, add the heavy cream/half-and-half. Mix again. Taste for seasonings. Store in refrigerator for later.

For the tacos, I really wanted to do more of a “carne asada” kind of approach to it. I found a nice looking flank steak at the market and knew that it would go great with the flavors I was planning to incorporate it with. This is how I made the tacos:


For the marinade –

1 – 1lb. flank steak

1/4 C. red wine vinegar

1 T. worcestershire sauce

1 garlic clove; minced

1/2 aji amarillo; seeded and chopped

3 T. cilantro leaves; washed. Roughly chop 1 T. of it for marinade, reserve the rest for garnish

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

For the tacos –

1/4 C. diced red onion

1 lime; cut into wedges

1/4 C. shredded cotija cheese

Corn tortillas

In a rectangular glass dish, combine the red wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, garlic, aji amarillo, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Place the flank steak in the dish and spread the marinade all over it, making sure it’s well coated, flipping it around so it gets on both sides. Let the steak marinate for 2 hours in your refrigerator, turning it over once in between.  In the meantime, you can start prepping your ingredients for your toppings and let them hang out in the fridge as well. That way, they’re ready when you are. Always a good thing.

Two hours have passed and it’s time to eat! Get your flank steak and cut it into bite-size pieces. On a large frying pan or griddle set over medium-high heat, cook the flank steak until just slightly pink in the middle. Flank steak can get real chewy real quick, so you definitely want to make sure and not over-cook this meat. Once everything is cooked, you can quickly warm your corn tortillas on the pan to “revive” them. They taste so much better when they’re warm.

Top your tacos with the spicy aji amarillo sauce, cotija cheese, red onions, and cilantro. Squeeze some lime juice for extra zing. Eat.

Buen provecho!



*I wrote an article for Living in Peru regarding this recipe. You can find it here.


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  • JasonOctober 26, 2010 - 8:46 pm

    I must say… These were oh so delicious. I was in the mood for ground beef tacos, but my lil’ lady had this lil’ idea. They turned out great!ReplyCancel

  • RitaOctober 27, 2010 - 12:22 pm

    Mmmm…. my Mexican husband would appreciate this… yummy! 😛 The problem is that I don’t know where to find amarillo peppers… 🙁ReplyCancel

    • steph@nieOctober 27, 2010 - 3:30 pm

      If you can’t spot them at the market, you can try them over at

      I have no affiliation with them, and I haven’t tried their products yet, but the reviews for them look good. I plan on buying a few of their things to test them out. So far, they seem to have the biggest variety of Peruvian products compared to other Latin American food websites.

      I hope you get a chance to make the tacos!ReplyCancel

  • RitaOctober 28, 2010 - 4:32 am

    Wow! The site is amazing! I’m going to show my hubby! he’ll be really curious… 😛 Here in my home town there’s a few shops selling products from Latin America (piloncillo, for instance) but not that much. My mother-in-law brings us something from Mexico when she comes back from her vacations but it’s never enough!!ReplyCancel

    • steph@nieOctober 29, 2010 - 9:05 am

      Oh awesome! So, I’m wondering..what’s your favorite Mexican dish? Does your hubby cook for you often? 😛ReplyCancel

  • RitaOctober 30, 2010 - 5:56 am

    Mole poblano… I’d eat it every day of my life. The point is that it’s too complicated to prepare. My mother-in-law bring some canned mole from Mexico when she comes back from her journeys but it’s not the same thing. You know, here in Italy it’s impossible to find all the different kinds of chili peppers needed for mole. As for my hubby… I cook for him… he’s not a great cook, poor me… 😛ReplyCancel

  • MichelleJanuary 29, 2011 - 8:51 am

    I know I’m a little late to the game, but I just found your website and am loving it! I’m not sure if you are on the eastside or westside of the state, but you should be able to find some Latin American food in both. Eastside has the Honeybee Market in downtown Detroit and there are a couple of shops in Sparta on the westside. Anywho, I’m off to read some more!ReplyCancel

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