Ecuadoran salsa is known as salsa de ají, shortened to just ají. The longer name is ají de tomate de árbol—and therein lies the problem, says MakingSense. Tomate de árbol, otherwise known as taramillo, is a South American fruit that’s extremely difficult to find in the United States, even if you look in specialty shops. A few Ecuadoran restaurants in Chicago and New York pay farmers to grow them specially, says AnneBird, but good luck finding them if you’re just a home cook. You might have some luck in areas with substantial communities from Ecuador and other Andean regions, says MakingSense.
In addition to the almost-impossible-to-find, irreplaceable tomates de árbol, ají is made from small, hot, thin ají peppers, white onions, salt, lemon juice, cilantro, and oil. Water is sometimes added as an extender, and the salsa may be adulterated with regular old tomatoes because they’re cheaper than tomates de árbol. The consistency is described as a thin relish or liquid—it’s puréed, not chunky. Ají is delicious on bread and, really, on everything. Hopefully, forward-thinking markets and CSAs will start hooking us up with tomates de árbol.
Board Link: Ecuadorian Salsa?