A friend recently asked me where they could get some Peruvian spices like aji amarillo, and my impression was that just about any Latino market on Mission St. in San Francisco would carry them. But to be really sure, I decided to walk the Mission St. strip from 16th to 24th and contrary to what I had thought, there were very few markets that had any Peruvian spices.
My first stop was a market called “La Mission” at the corner of 17th and Mission St.— it looked promising, but looks can be deceiving, they had zero Peruvian spices. 0 for 1. Next up was a market called “El Ranchito” — bingo, they had both aji amarillo and aji panca. 1 for 2. At the corner of 18th was a large Asian market that had an aisle marked “Latino Grocery” — but none from Peru. 1 for 3.
A few markets later I hit the Mother lode — Evergreen Market at 2539 Mission St., directly across from the Foreign Cinema. They had several shelves of spices, including ajis, corn, potatoes, grains, and even chocolates. The only other market that had some Peruvian spices was Lucero’s at Mission Market, 2590 Mission St.
Probably the most interesting thing I learned was that there are 3 different companies that make aji amarillo and aji panca paste: Amazonas, Inca’s Foods, and Mi Peru. Their labels also say that Amazonas and Mi Peru are importers based in California while Inca’s Foods is based in New Jersey.
If you live near San Francisco, I strongly recommend that you stop by Evergreen Market for Peruvian spices. Otherwise, a quick Google search shows that you may be able to get Peruvian spices online through sites like Amigo Foods based in Florida or Amazon.com which carries Aji Amarillo.