Men’s Health magazine


The One Cheese Dip That’s Worth Making

This spicy Peruvian sauce is simple, spicy, and surprisingly delicious

It’s one of the easiest recipes out there: Melt cheese, add salsa, and serve hot. You can go a rogue and add ground chorizo, a few chilies, or even some beer to the mix. But as long as that dip is warm you’re good to go.
Except that the best cheese dip in the world isn’t served warmed, but chilled.

“That’s un-American!” you say.
Well, yeah. Salsa de huancaína is the Peruvian version of chile con queso. You make it with aji Amarillo (a spicy yellow chile pepper) and queso fresco (a crumbly white cheese). Peruvians puree the ingredients to create a creamy, custard-like cheese sauce that they serve on just about anything—boiled potatoes, French fries, fried yucca, quinoa, chicken with rice, etc. And you should too.

Every restaurant has their own version, but few recipes can compete with Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez’s zesty and creamy sauce. Martinez is owner and chef at Central Restaurante in Lima, currently ranked the number-one restaurant in Latin America and number four in the world on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Skeptical of this dip? You won’t be after your first dunk.

Salsa de Huancaína
Recipe by Virgilio Martinez, chef and owner of Central Restaurante in Lima, Peru

What you’ll need:
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup chopped deveined, deseeded aji Amarillo* (or banana peppers)
1 ½ oz queso fresco (or ricotta)
¼ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it:
1. In a skillet over medium, heat the oil. Add the red onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook, stirring, until the onions turn translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain any excess oil from the mixture.
2. In a blender or food processor, add the strained solids, queso fresco, and cream. Puree until the sauce takes on a custard-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper and serve chilled. Makes 4 servings.

*You’re starting to see this pepper pop up as a paste in some good grocery stores. You can also order the paste online. But if you use the paste, start with a tablespoon or so and then add more if you want things spicier. The paste is potent!