Did you know that the Criollo pepper is the most used pepper in Ecuadorian cooking? From the Andes to the Pacific coast – all habitants love this hot pepper. The name comes from the old Spanish word for mixed, and this pepper is just that: never completely red, never completely green; hot, but not too much. It comes as no surprise that the chili is also a key ingredient for any tasty hot sauce!
The Criollo pepper is long, thin-fleshed, and extremely popular. In fact, Ecuadorians just call it ají – which is Spanish for chili pepper. It is one of South America’s staple chilis, like Ají Amarillo (also known as Escabeche). The amount of heat you get is medium: it won’t blow your head off, but it doesn’t shy away from giving you a little kick!
Whilst the Criollo pepper is one of the lesser-known types of hot pepper worldwide, it is wonderfully versatile. It forms the backbone of Ecuadorian cuisine and even shines in other Latin American countries. Many ají (hot) sauces in Ecuador contain the Criollo pepper as a base. These sauces combine the chili with fruits, nuts, or even seeds. The sauce mixes increase the fragrance of the Criollo, letting each unique recipe take advantage of the pepper’s versatility.