My mom once served beef heart anticuchos to our unsuspecting dinner guests who were smiling and savoring the Peruvian kebob appetizer for the first time. Their smiles, however, quickly faded when she innocently and proudly asked “Do you know what you are eating?”
To Peruvians, beef heart is a dish of the people, as even the poorest can get an anticucho from a street vendor. But since it may not appeal to everyone, this recipe uses beef tenderloin. The key, as always, is the spice — in this case aji panca — a red hot pepper paste typically used in meat dishes.
You might recall that last week’s Ocopa recipe used aji amarillo — a yellow hot pepper that I have not been able to substitute. But for today’s recipe, I am comparing aji panca paste from Evergreen Market to ancho chili powder from Whole Foods. Otherwise, the marinade is identical and is based on a recipe by Tony Custer in The Art Of Peruvian Cuisine.
While grilling the beef on the stovetop, I instantly recognized the smell of the pungent smoke from the vinegar soaked beef being seared. When they were done, I was very surprised that the ancho chili anticuchos tasted very similar to the aji panca anticuchos, however the aji paste marinade had a more uniform consistency. Now, if only I could walk down the streets of San Francisco and find an anticucho vendor — that smell, that first bite… for that, there is no substitute.
- 1 pound beef tenderloin or top sirloin
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons aji panca paste or 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 8 skewers for grilling the beef
- Cut the beef into bite size pieces and mince the garlic.
- Mix vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, cumin, pepper, and aji panca in a bowl.
- Add the beef to the marinade, toss and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Skewer the beef and cook on a grill pan over high heat, about 2-3 minutes each side.
- Serve immediately.
8 skewers, served as an appetizer.
Be sure to marinade the beef for at least 2 hours before cooking. If I am going to serve the anticuchos for a lunch time appetizer, I sometimes prep the dish in the morning or even the night before. Also, I find that a tender top sirloin works very well as may be more economical than a tenderloin.