The Fresh Peruvian Mint Sauce That's Endlessly Versatile

The most popular herbs to use in most homemade dishes include basil, mint, parsley, and cilantro, according to MasterClass. These edible plants add tons of flavor to various dishes and can be used in a fresh or dried form, even though most experts recommend going with the fresh option. And in Peru, aromatic herbs are so important that they play a key role in the country's delicious cuisine. Some of the most popular herbs in Peru are cilantro, oregano, and basil (via Lima Easy). However, some herbs native to Peru consist of chincho, along with paico, which is a crucial ingredient for a traditional Peruvian dish called pachamanca.

But have you heard of the native Peruvian herb called huacatay, also known as Peruvian black mint? You probably haven't if you haven't been to Peru, but it would be a shame to miss out on this unique ingredient. After all, huacatay belongs to the marigold plant family, and its leaves have an intense aroma of anise, while the flavors are complex and reminiscent of tarragon, basil, and licorice (per Specialty Produce). With such unique flavors, it's no wonder that huacatay is also used to make an endlessly versatile sauce.

Add it your carrot soup, among other items

The cuisine of Peru has many different sauces, but two are a bit more popular than others. The first one is called aji verde, and it's made with a mixture of jalapenos, aji amarillo paste, oil, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, and mayo (via International Cuisine). This sauce is most commonly used with a roasted chicken dish called pollo a la brasa. Aji huacatay, on the other hand, consists of huacatay paste, garlic, oil, scallions, mayonnaise, and aji amarillo paste. 

But how can we get our hands on some huacatay? Fresh or dried huacatay is not found that easily outside of Peru, but huacatay paste, on the other hand, can sometimes be found in Latin grocery stores (via Lima Easy). The paste is typically packed in jars, and it's made with a mixture of Peruvian black mint, salt, preservatives, and citric acid, according to My Recipes. The flavors are best described as slightly minty, grassy, and vegetal, so it's unsurprising that huacatay sauce can easily be used as a replacement for cilantro. The Peruvian mint sauce is highly versatile and can be added to anything from marinades and hummus to pestos, salsas, and aioli. And if you're feeling adventurous, add a bit of the sauce to any carrot soup or spread it over pizza dough for a brand-new explosion of flavors.