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  • Writer's pictureCecilia Tupac

Peruvian Rocoto Relleno Recipe: Arequipa Stuffed Spicy Peppers

How to make Peruvian Rocoto Relleno

One of Peru's most emblematic dishes, Rocoto Relleno is a delightful blend of spicy rocoto peppers filled with a savory beef and cheese mixture. This beloved recipe is popular for good reason – it's absolutely delicious!

Discover the history behind this fascinating dish and learn how to make a mouthwatering Rocoto Relleno at home, sure to impress your friends and family.

What is Rocoto Relleno?

Rocoto Relleno is a cherished dish that features rocoto peppers as the star ingredient. Although they resemble bell peppers in appearance, rocoto peppers are significantly spicier and are known for their sweet and fruity flavor.

To prepare this dish, the inside of the pepper is hollowed out and filled with a savory mixture of beef, onions, garlic, and various herbs and spices. The stuffed peppers are then topped with "queso fresco," a type of fresh cheese that melts beautifully during cooking.

Rocoto Relleno is typically served with "Pastel de Papas," a creamy potato gratin that perfectly balances the dish's textures and flavors.

How Hot are Rocoto Peppers?

Many first-time tasters of Rocoto Relleno are concerned about the heat of rocoto peppers, and for good reason! Rocoto peppers, also known as Capsicum pubescens, are native to the Andes and have a much higher heat level compared to typical chili peppers, ranging between 100,000 to 250,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). For comparison, here are a few other commonly used chili peppers and their respective heat levels:

  • Bell Pepper: 0 SHU

  • Poblano: 1,000 - 1,500 SHU

  • Jalapeño: 2,500 - 8,000 SHU

  • Serrano: 10,000 - 23,000 SHU

  • Cayenne Pepper: 30,000 - 50,000 SHU

  • Rocoto Pepper: 100,000 - 250,000 SHU

  • Habanero Pepper: 100,000 - 350,000 SHU

  • Carolina Reaper: 1,400,000 - 2,200,000 SHU

While not as intense as the Carolina Reaper, rocoto peppers are still quite hot and should be approached with caution, especially for first-timers. Despite their spiciness, rocoto peppers have a sweet and fruity flavour that complements the salty beef and cheese filling perfectly.

Origins of Rocoto Relleno

Peruvian Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Rocoto Relleno is a beloved Peruvian dish that can be found in restaurants throughout the country. Its origins trace back to the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa, the former capital. Rocoto peppers have been cultivated in Peru for thousands of years, but the dish itself is believed to have been influenced by the Spanish Conquistadors, who introduced new culinary traditions during the colonial period.

The fusion of Spanish culinary techniques with Peruvian ingredients has led to a variety of unique Peruvian dishes. Although the exact origins of Rocoto Relleno are unknown, it remains a quintessential Arequipeñan dish that is loved by both locals and tourists.

How to prepare Rocoto Relleno

If you're ready to make Rocoto Relleno at home, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the Rocoto Peppers: Remove the tops, seeds, and veins of the peppers. Boil the peppers in salt, sugar, and vinegar to reduce their heat, repeating this process 1-3 times.

  2. Make the Filling: Season the beef with salt, pepper, and cumin, and brown in a pan. Remove the beef and set aside. In the same pan, fry chopped onions on low-medium heat for about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic paste, aji panca, and aji amarillo paste, and cook for another 5 minutes.

  3. Re-add the Beef: Return the beef to the pan and add toasted peanuts, raisins, black olives (optional), and parsley. Once cooked, transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool.

  4. Stuff the Peppers: Using a spoon, fill the peppers with the beef mixture until full. Place the stuffed peppers in a baking dish, cover with cheese, and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

  5. Serve: Enjoy your Rocoto Relleno with Pastel de Papa or a side salad.

Rocoto Relleno Recipe

Ready to start making these delicious Stuffed Peppers? Watch the video below from Chef Cecilia Tupac on how to make a delicious 'Rocoto Relleno con Pastel de Papa'.

Rocoto Relleno Ingredients:

  • 8 Rocoto peppers (1 litre of water,1 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt).

  • 500 gr of beef

  • 2 large onions

  • 2 tablespoons of toasted peanuts

  • 1 heaped teaspoon of aji panca paste

  • 1 tablespoon of garlic paste

  • 1 tablespoon of aji amarillo paste

  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree

  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin

  • 1 teaspoon of oregano

  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley

  • Raisons to taste

Pastel de Papa:

  • 500 gr of potatoes

  • 200 gr of cheese (ensure it is a cheese that melts, such as cheddar)

  • 3 egg whites

  • 150 ml of fresh milk

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 teaspoon of aniseed


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