Chef Anne McAllister was back in my kitchen recently. My latter born asked to spend a Saturday afternoon cooking with her as his birthday present. They worked as a team to put together a menu. My son wanted a “Peruvican” theme, a blend of Peruvian and Mexican cuisine. Other than a few frenzied moments when fruit was being dipped in dark chocolate, I think my youngest actually learned quite a lot – though he is quite the chatterbox and I worry sometimes that generous hearted Chef Anne will never get a word in edgewise. One of the things they made together was an Ahi Tuna & Salmon Carpaccio. Anne drizzled Mexican Crema on the Salmon (I use Mexican Crema all the time – you can find it at Costco and in the dairy section of your grocery store – it’s like sour cream but a bit thinner and not quite so sour). She spread this Panca Pepper Spread directly on the raw, thinly sliced Ahi Tuna. We fell in love with the spread immediately. I am going to post some other recipes that rely on this. The easiest one would be to serve it dolloped on scrambled eggs with some melted cheese on a Sunday morning. Perfect. I found the panca peppers at a local Mexican grocery store. The brand name is Dona Isabel and the product is called “Panca Especial.” They aren’t at all spicy, rather they are smoky and full of flavor. The closest comparison that comes to mind is chipotle chilies in adobo – but without the heat. If you can’t find pancas –substitute canned chipotle chilies in adobo. The end result will have more heat – which may be your preference anyway.
Panca Pepper Spread
- 1 pint fresh, mild pico de gallo salsa
- 3 tablespoons panca pepper puree (straight out of the jar)
- ¼ cup packed cilantro
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
Place all of the ingredients in your mini-chopper or blender. Process until smooth. The spread will keep in your fridge for a week.