Causa Limeña

Peruvian, Uncategorized

Causa LimeñaCausa is the layered potato and seafood salad you see above.  A signature dish from Peru there are endless ways to compose and present this dish.  You can make this as gourmet or as humble as you want.  While we’ve made a simple Causa here, you need only be limited by your imagination.  I’ve seen huge family sized Causa (that you would cut into slices like a cake) to mini ornate appetizer sized Causa – Causa with layers of mashed purple potatoes and any number of different fillings and sauces.  Google Causa for some inspiration and have fun making your own version of this classic Peruvian specialty.

Our take on Causa captures three classic Peruvian ingredients – First – the Peruvian potato – Peru is famous for their hundreds of varieties of potatoes and as a result there are many dishes that revolve around their endless varieties. A classic Causa would use the yellow potato of Peru, but as we couldn’t exactly pick those up at No Frills – we grabbed a bag of mini golden gem potatoes and peeled them to help create a uniform color.

The second essential component in Causa is seafood – while we have simplified (and economized) our Causa with Tuna – this dish is easily adapted to include the best fresh seafood you can find. From fresh crab meat, to baby shrimp or prawns.  Depending on the occasion, you might want to elevate the seafood portion.

The final must-use ingredient is Aji Amarillo (Yellow Pepper). We have used this ingredient in other posts – Papas a la Huancaina and our favorite – Salteñas. We pick ours up at the South China Seas Trading company in the Granville Island Public Market. The yellow pepper has a great flavor and depending on preference you can adjust the amount to create a milder or stronger intensity.

Presentation of this dish is key, so use some sort of a mold. We’ve used tart rings to create our layers but you can also use the tuna can if you remove the bottom of the tin as well (be careful of the edges)

This recipe will make 4-6 Causa 


  • 1 pound bag of yellow fleshed mini potatoes (larger ones if you can find them) peeled, and boiled until you can pierce the potatoes with a fork easily. / 1 libra de papas pueden ser grandes o pequeñas, peladas y hervidas hasta que estén blandas.
  • 2 tbs Aji Amarillo / Yellow pepper
  • 4 tbs Lemon Juice / jugo de limón
  • 2 Cans of Tuna / atún en lata
  • 1 Red pepper / Pimentón rojo
  • 1/2 Onion / cebolla
  • 1/4 cups of mayonnaise / taza de mayonesa
  • 1 Avocado / palta
  • Salt and Pepper to taste / sal y pimienta al gusto
  • Olive Oil / Aceite de oliva

Instructions / Instrucciones

  • Peel and boil potatoes, then rice or mash in a large bowl / Pelar las papas y ponerlas a hervir en una olla grande

Ricing potatoes

  • Mix the potato with the aji amarillo, taste as you go until it is spiced to your liking. Add 2 tbs of lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix everything together.  Add Olive oil as needed until you’ve formed a smooth potato ‘dough’ / Mezclar las papas con el aji amarillo. Agregar 2 cucharadas de jugo de limón y sal y pimienta al gusto.  Agregar aceite de oliva, así será más facil amasar la papa.

Mixing the potato 'dough'

  • Finely dice the red pepper and the onion, add them to a medium bowl and mix together with the canned tuna. Add the remaining lemon juice and the mayonnaise and mix well. / Cortar el pimiento rojo y la cebolla en cuadritos y colocarlos en un recipiente junto al atún, agregar el jugo de limón restante y la mayonesa, mezclar bien.

Tuna salad

  • We assembled our Causa with a base layer of potatoes, topped with a layer of avocado, another layer of potatoes, a layer of tuna, one final layer of potatoes and finished with a spoonful of tuna on top and garnished with an avocado slice / Colocar como base la papa y encima la palta, agregar encima otra capa de papa y en la parte superior colocar el atún y para terminar otra capa más de papa. Puedes colocar una rebanada de palta y un poco de atún encima como decoración.

Assembling the Causa


Causa… provecho!



Bolivian, Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Snack


Here is our recipe for the beloved Salteña.  We make ours with chicken, potatoes and peas but you can switch the chicken for beef and pair it with beef broth for an equally delicious variation.  We worked hard on this one! we hope it helps…

A salteña is what you see above, it is the image in our header, it is our favorite food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Salteñas are immensely popular in Fabio’s home country – Bolivia, they are probably as close as you will get to a Bolivian national dish as they are one of the only foods that are enjoyed in all corners of the country.  Also, no one has ever tried a salteña and not loved it… probably…

The appeal of the salteña to me is that it is so many things at the same time… To start with it is a sweet pastry, and it is filled with a sweet and spicy broth made with aji amarillo (yellow pepper) and the filling has chicken, potatoes, veggies, a slice of hard boiled egg and either an olive or a few raisins.  Comfort food at its finest. 

After countless batches of trial and error, this is our version to share with you.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Provecho!

The recipe as typed below makes 18 large salteñas.  The recipe for the filling and the dough can easily be halved to make 9-10 saltenas – this is the quantity shown in our photos.

Ingredients (filling)

  • 3 Chicken breasts / pechugas de pollo
  • 1 Potato / papa
  • 1 Green onion / cebolla verde
  • 1/2 Yellow onion / cebolla
  • 1/4 cup peas / arbejas
  • 2 tablespoons yellow pepper paste (or more if desire to add more heat) /
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin / cucharilla de comino
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano / cucharilla de oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt / cucharilla de sal
  • Pepper to taste / pimienta a gusto
  • 1 tablespoon sugar / cuchara de azúcar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vinegar / cucharilla de vinagre
  • 1/4 cup butter / taza de mantequilla
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley / cuchara de perejil picado
  • 4 cups chicken stock / tazas de caldo de pollo
  • 1 packet of gelatin /paquete de gelatina sin sabor


Dice the potato and add it to a pot of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, you don’t want the potatoes to be soft or they will fall apart in the broth, they will still cook a bit longer once they are added to the rest of the ingredients.  After 5 minutes, drain the potatoes and set aside / Cortar la papa en cuadritos y agregarlos al agua hirviendo por 5 minutos, las papas no deben estar tan blandas esto es debido a que van a seguir ser cocinadas luego.

Boil the chicken breasts in a pot of water until they are completely cooked through, let cool and then shred the meat into small pieces.  Set aside / Poner las pechugas de pollo a cocinar hasta que estén listas, luego desmenuzar el pollo y poner de lado.

shredded chicken, diced potato, onion, green onion, peas and spices

Shredded chicken, diced potato, white onion, green onion, peas, parsley, and spices (cumin, oregano, salt and pepper)

Melt the butter with the yellow pepper in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter separates from the pepper, about 4 minutes / Derretir la mantequilla junto al ají amarillo hasta que veas que este se separa del ají amarillo , esto debe ser en 4 minutos de estar cocinando en medio fuego.

Turn the temperature to low and add the spices (cumin, oregano, salt and pepper) and let everything cook together for 10 minutes / Agregar el comino, orégano y sal y pimienta y cocinar todo a fuego lento por 10 minutos

Add the diced onion and cook it until it softens, then add the green onion as well / Agregar la cebolla y cocinarla hasta que este blanda, luego agregar la cebolla verde


Add the vinegar, sugar, parsley, potatoes and green peas and mix everything together well, add the chicken and the chicken broth as well and let it cook all together over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture is heated throughout.  Add the packet of gelatin to the mixture and then transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator / Agregar el vinagre, azúcar, perejil, papas, arvejas y mezclar bien, luego agregar el pollo desmenuzado con el caldo de pollo, dejar en fuego medio por 5 minutos hasta que este bien caliente para agregar la gelatina sin sabor. Dejar enfriar y luego transferir al congelador

The gelatin will partially set the broth mixture as it sits and cools in the fridge.  Technically this is all you need to do before filling and sealing the salteñas, however, as working with the dough and the wet broth mixture can be difficult I  have devised an alternate method.  I construct tinfoil molds in the shape of salteñas and line them with plastic wrap then fill them with the broth and freeze them.  Once they are completely frozen I can remove them from the plastic wrap and place them directly on to the rolled out dough and seal up with the signature braided twist – the picos.  / La gelatine hará efecto cuando la mezcla este fría. Técnicamente esto es todo lo que se necesita para terminar las salteñas pero es muy dificil hacer esto cuando la mezcla está húmeda, por lo tanto hay un método el cual puede ayudarte. Puedes hacer moldes de papel aluminio y colocar la mezcla en ellos, poner en el congelador y así cuando quires ponerlos a la masa la mezcla estara moldeada y dura, será mucho más fácil, te lo recomiendo.

Whether you use this method (tinfoil molds) or the original (freestyle) make sure to include a slice of hard boiled egg, as well as a pitted olive (or a few raisins) before sealing the dough.  The egg, olive, and raisins you can adjust based on your own taste.  Previously I have been a firm believer that salteñas just had to be made with an olive, however the last time we made them as we didnt have any on hand we threw in some raisins instead and I’ve come around to the other side I think.  Fabio still requires an olive in his…  / Si utilizas este método (moldes de papel de aluminio) o el original (estilo libre), asegúrese de incluir una rodaja de huevo duro, así como una aceituna  (o algunas pass) a su gusto antes de sellar la masa.

Ingredients (dough)

  • 4 cups flour / harina
  • 1/2 cup sugar / azúcar
  • 1/2 tsp salt / sal
  • 2 eggs / huevos
  • 1 stick (half cup) butter / mantequilla
  • about 1 cup of warm water / agua tibia


In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl Lightly beat the egg and in a small saucepan melt the butter. Add all this to the flour mix  with some warm water (approx 1 cup) and mix well until it forms a dough / En un contenedor mezclar la harina, azúcar y sal. En otro contenedor batir el huevo suavemente y en una olla derretir la mantequilla. Agregar todo esto a la mezcla de harina con un poco de agua tibia (aproximadamente 1 taza) mezclar bien hasta que tome la forma de una masa
In order to obtain the traditional color for our saltenas we use a natural colorant from Bolivia called Urucu.  As you cannot get these little pebbles outside of Santa Cruz, if you are after the signature saltenas shade - add some yellow food coloring when you melt the butter

In order to obtain the traditional color for our salteñas we use a natural colorant from Bolivia called Urucu. As you cannot get these little pebbles outside of Santa Cruz, if you are after the signature saltenas shade – add some yellow food coloring when you melt the butter

Let the dough rest on the counter (covered in a towel so that it does not dry out) for about 10 minutes.  Afterwards, divide the dough into smaller pieces and roll out, flouring as needed, into approximately 15cm diameter circles around a 1/4 cm thick. / Dejar reposer la masa (cubierta en una toalla para que no se seque) durante aproximadamente 10 minutos. Luego, dividir la masa en pedazos  pequeños,poner harina cuanto necesiten, y hacer los pedazos de masa en aproximadamente 15 cm de diámetro círculos con cm 1/4 de espesor.

Take a frozen mold of saltena filling from the freezer or a large scoop of the gelatine set filling and place it in the middle of the dough being sure to include some raisins/olives/sliced egg, wet the edges of the pastry and close together sealing the filling inside well, pinching and twisting the edges to ensure a strong seal.  This is a very important step as how well you close the saltenas will determine whether or not they open in the oven later when you are baking them.  / Tomar un molde congelado de salteña del congelador o una cucharada grande del relleno con gelatina y lo colocar en el medio de la masa y asegúrese de incluir algunas pasas / aceitunas / rodajas de huevo, mojar los bordes de las salteñas y cierre, pellizcar y retorcer los bordes para asegurar un sellado fuerte.

Closing a Saltena

Add the finished salteñas to a parchment lined cookie sheet and store in the freezer until you are ready to bake them / Poner las sateñas en el congelador en un contenedor hasta el momento que quieras ponerlas al horno

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, line a cookie sheet with tinfoil, and grease with non stick spray / Calentar el horno a 500 grados, poner las sateñas en un recipiente con papel aluminio y aceite en spray  para que así no se pegen

Once the oven is at its maximum temperature, add the saltenas to the pan, brush with a beaten egg (for shine) and place in the oven until the salteñas are browned (approx 15 minutes) if the tops are browning too quickly, place another sheet of tinfoil overtop and continue cooking.  You want to be sure that the filling is completely heated through.  / Pintar las salteñas con un huevo batido para poner brillo y colocarlas al horno bien caliente hasta que hayan cambia do de color (apróx. 15 minutos)

Halloween Saltenas ready for the oven! (we used a little too much regular food colouring this batch)

A batch of Halloween Salteñas ready for the oven! (confession – we used red food coloring this batch (pre-urucu) and learned that if you are using food coloring it is better to go with yellow – unless it’s halloween of course.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes and enjoy!




Papas a la Huancaína

Appetizer, Lunch, Peruvian, Snack

If I had to narrow down my list of favourite Peruvian dishes, this simple salad would be right up there near the top. I first had this salad when I was in Peru a few years ago, staying with my friend Carolina. Just as soon as I finished my first bite I started asking about what this sauce was – how was it made? what was it called? what were the ingredients? and I knew I would have to learn how to make this myself. When Carolina listed off the ingredients for me I was surprised and a bit in disbelief when she mentioned crackers as one of them… but as I’ve learned, the soda crackers are an important component. The other two key parts of this recipe are the potato (Peru is famous for its hundreds of potato varieties and this recipe is typically made with the Peruvian yellow potato) and the yellow pepper (aji amarillo) a spicy pepper from the Andes and common in lots of Peruvian as well as Bolivian dishes.

The cheese that is normally used is called queso fresco, which is an unaged white cheese and is similar enough in taste to queso blanco which is a white cheese that you can easily make at home. We’ve had a hard time finding queso fresco and so we made the queso blanco ourselves and it worked really great. If you can not find queso fresco or blanco at your supermarket AND you don’t feel like making it yourself, you can just use a cheese like feta (but go easy on it as it is so salty) or ricotta.

This is a tremendously versatile sauce both in how it is served and how it is made. Many variations of this recipe are available online and, of course, in the memories and homes of Peruvians all over the world, and when this recipe is broken down it is basically a spicy cheese sauce, and while it is truly fantastic just like this over boiled potatoes, it also works well as a dip for veggies, and (as Fabio brilliantly discovered) for pizza! You can customize your huancaína sauce to be extra spicy, cheesy, or creamy as you like it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

First – this is how to make the queso blanco used in in the huancaína sauce. The recipe is adapted from Karen Solomon’s book Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it

The Queso Blanco

The Ingredients

  • 8 cups homogenized milk (whole milk) / tazas de leche entera
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar / taza de vinagre de manzana
  • 2 teaspoons salt / cucharillas de sal

The Instructions

  • Clip a thermometer to the side of a saucepan, add milk and place over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the temperature reads 185 degrees F / Poner la leche en una olla con una termómetro y poner sobre fuego medio y calentar por 25 minutos batiendo ocasionalmente hasta que la temperature alcanze los 185 degrados F
  • Add the vinegar and stir just until incorporated throughout / Agregar el vinagre y batir hasta que este incorporado
  • Turn off the heat and let the milk sit for about 10 minutes / Apagar el fuego y dejar por diez minutos

  • At this point you will notice curds separating from the whey / a esta punto se puede notar la nat a la cual es el queso
  • Using a slotted spoon, scoop the curds into a mesh sieve that is sitting over another bowl and let drain / Usando una cuchara con agujeros sacar el queso y ponerlos en un colador fino sobre un recipiente y colar
  • Discard the whey that has drained into the bowl and then empty the drained curds into the empty bowl and toss together with the salt / Elimine el liquido que esta en la recipiente y poker el queso en el recipiente vacio y mezclar con la sal
  • Move the curds onto a clean kitchen towel, a cheese cloth or into a milk bag (a mesh bag used for almond/rice milk etc). Tie curds up in material and squeeze gently then hang over a bowl or the sink for about 45 minutes / Poner el queso sobre un pañuelo para queso y atar y presionar escurriendo, colgar sobre el grifo por 45 minutos

Queso Blanco

  • Transfer the drained cheese curds to a (makeshift) cheese press and weight it for 3-4 hours / Poner el queso en una lata vacia y presionar el queso por 3 o 4 horas
  • The cheese is ready to be used and can be kept in the refrigerator wrapped in wax paper for up to one week / El queso esta listo, y se puede quedar en el refrigerador por una semana

The Papas a la Huancaína

The Ingredients

  • 3 potatoes (yukon gold preferable) / papas
  • 4 eggs hard boiled / huevos duros
  • 3/4 cup queso blanco or feta / tazas de queso
  • 1 garlic clove crushed / ajo
  • 1 cup of milk / taza de leche
  • 2 to 3 tbsps of ají amarillo paste (depending how spicy to want it) / cucharadas de ají amarillo (si quiere más picante agrege más)
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil / cucharadas de aceite de oliva
  • 1-2 tbsps lime juice / cucharadas de jugo de limón
  • 6 to 8 soda crackers (depending of the texture) / galletas de agua
  • black olives / aceitunas negras
  • lettuce / lechuga

The Instructions

  • Peel and boil the potatoes and then cut into thick slices / Pelar las papas y hervirlas, luego cortarlas en rodajas.
  • For the salsa Huancaína: In a blender or food processor add the cheese, garlic, ají amarillo paste and milk. Blend for 10-20 seconds then add a few crackers, the olive oil and lime juice / Para la salsa Huancaína: en una licuadora poner el queso, ajo, ají amarrillo y la leche y licuar. También agreagar las galletas de agua, aceite y jugo de limón.
Ají Amarillo
  • Check the consistency and taste – if the sauce needs more thickening add more crackers and blend a few more seconds / Pruebe y ponga sal y pimienta al gusto, si la salsa esta muy liquida ponga mas galletas ya que esto hará a espesar la salsa.

Papas a la Huancaína

  • To serve – place the lettuce on a plate and top with the sliced potatoes, the salsa a la huancaína should be poured over the potatoes covering them. To garnish add some black olives and wedges of the hard boiled eggs / Para servir ponga la lechuga en un plato y las papas encima, colocar la salsa sobre las papas cubiréndolas. Poner aceitunas negras y rebanadas de los huevos duros para la decoracion.