Appetizers/ ColdApp

Huancaina (Peruvian Spicy Cheese Sauce)

What better to go with a spicy cheese sauce than plantain chips.

I’m always on the look for new dips or sauces to make and this one is great. This recipe has been made twice in two weeks, once for lake trip and once when my son came for his 20th class reunion.

One of the most famous sauces in Peru is Huancaina (wan-kay-eena) served with cold sliced potatoes, raw vegetables or fried plantain chips. I vote for the plantain chips.

Several years ago we dined at a Peruvian restaurant in Washington, DC. Cute little place with all the pictures on the wall hanging crooked and there was actually a reason for that and it had something to do with feud with either Mexico or Spain but I don’t remember. Like I said it was years ago.

So, back to the restaurant. Back then we probably ordered something pretty safe and the waiter asked us several times if we had tried this or that and when we said no, he brought samples out for us to try; one being tongue. Instead of the usual oil with bread to dip it in or bread and butter we were served this pink (this recipe isn’t pink) butter type mixture with bread to spread it on. I never forgot what he told me was two of the ingredients — saltine crackers and milk.

I hadn’t thought about this sauce for years until recently when it was served to us one night at a South American restaurant and once I found out the name of the sauce I went in search for the recipe and found several recipes all with basically the same ingredients.

Finding already prepared plantain chips was not easy. I thought I could pick them up in the chip isle — not there, then in the bulk section they only had spiced ones (wouldn’t work), so I decided to make my own. Never made them before and they were pretty easy. The hardest part about making the plantain chips was getting the peeling off. They are NOT as easy as peeling a banana. You can see in the pictures below how I went about getting the peeling off. I also watched several videos on YouTube on frying plantain chips. (Note: the one thing I learned from doing the chips the second time is DO NOT use ripe plantains. I had a very hard time getting them crispy and they were really hard to slice on the mandolin; so buy really green ones.)

If you read the grilled Peruvian chicken recipe and decided to order the aiji pepper paste then you can get two uses from the jar. Why not order all the spices you need for the chicken dish which was delicious and then you have the pepper paste that you can use to make this appetizer to go with the chicken.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: It’s ice cream season again and this Banana Pudding Ice Cream would be perfect with the Peruvian Chicken and this spicy cheese sauce/dip above.


Still can’t believe this dip has saltine crackers in it. I ended up adding some garlic also.


Simply throw everything into your blender or Vitamin and in seconds you have a spicy cheese sauce/dip.


Cut the ends off the plantain.


Cut a section of the peel and then using a sharp knife remove the remaining peel.


Using a mandoline, slicer or by hand, cut the plantain as thin as possible. Mine were about 1/16″.


Fry the plantain slices in 350° oil for about 4-5 minutes.


You will know when the chips are done because the bubbling of the oil will calm down.


Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Salt while they are fresh out of the oil. When cool, store in airtight container.


Huancaina Sauce (Peruvian Spicy Cheese Sauce)
Pronounced wan-kay-eeba and served with plantain chips is wonderful.
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  1. 3 Tbsp. aji amarillo paste
  2. 1/8 c. chopped onion, marinated one day in malt vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  3. 3/4 c. queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  4. 1/4 + 1/8 c. cotija cheese
  5. 1/4 c. saltine crackers, crushed
  6. 1 tsp. salt
  7. 3/4 c. evaporated milk
  8. 1/2 c. corn oil
  9. 2 small cloves garlic, peeled
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put everything in blender and blend until smooth. Serve with fried plantain chips. Chill until ready to serve then serve room temperature or chilled.
  2. To make plantain chips: Cut a section of the peel out with a knife trying not to go to far into the plantain. Then use your knife to cut away the rest of the peeling. It will not be easy like a banana to get the peeling off.
  3. Use a mandolin or slicer to cut very thin (1/16") slices of the plantain. Drop slices into 350° oil and fry until the bubbles subside. Remove to paper towels to drain and then when cool store in airtight container. Do not crowd in pan as they will start to stick together.
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