Last summer, my brother got married to Alexandra. He made us wait for many years and finally the day came when he decided that he would be getting married. When he told me that he was proposing to his girlfriend it was a very emotional moment…still remember it. Since Alexandra came into the family, his life changed..and so did mine. She made the unfamiliar seem fun and accessible.
Alexandra brought a new addition to their home…color…lots of color..an explosion of color. Before they met, my brothers apartment felt like you were watching a movie filmed in sepia..very little color but thankfully, Alexandra soon changed that. It now has the feeling of colonial exotica.
Alexandra is part ‘Peruvian’ and so when they invite us for dinner, is it any surprise that I stop eating at about 12 noon in preparation for the debauchery I would later commit in the evening. It’s an evening of causa, ceviche and secco and then causa, ceviche, and secco all over again. Today’s dish is ‘causa’. Causa is a costal dish made up of spiced mashed potatoes layered with sea food and avocado and topped with lime soaked onions. The potatoes are mashed with a spicy golden yellow sauce called ‘aji amarillo’ (a spicy sauce made of yellow chili peppers). This dish is extremely adaptable and it is not uncommon to make it without sea food, some people use chicken and some people keep it vegetarian and add a layer of corn. Served chilled, this dish can be eaten as a ‘standalone’ or served as a side dish. This dish is very colorful and pretty and you definitely hear a few ‘wow’s!’ as you display the dish before your guests.
2 lbs Yukon potatoes
4-5 tbsp aji amarillo paste found at Latin grocery stores or specialty stores
Salt to taste
¼ cup of Olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 finely diced medium sized red onion
Juice from 2 fresh limes
Can of corn or kernels of 4 ears of cooked corn or 16oz (usually 2 jars) high quality jars of tuna (in olive oil)
¼ cup of Mayonnaise (this is to mix with tuna)
1. Boil the potato’s until soft from center
2. Drain, remove the skin and allow to cool
3. Combine the remaining ingredients for the mashed
potatoes and mash using a ricer, grater or mixer.
Remove all lumps. The potatoes should be stiff and
have an almost dough-like consistency
1. Squeeze the juice of the fresh lime to cover the onions and leave to soak
2. As the onion soften and lime juice turns pink, drain the onions (usually after 10 minutes)
1. Finely slice the avocados
2. In a mixing bowl toss the salt, pepper, mayo and
tuna (discarding the oil) together or if you are
layering the corn, keep it ready and at room
1. In an 8′ by 4′ glass dish, spread a 1 ½“ thick layer
of the spicy mashed potatoes
2. Spread a layer of the sliced avocados
3. Spread another layer of the mashed potatoes
4. Spread a layer of your tuna or corn and sprinkle ½ the onion relish
5. Top with a final layer of potatoes
6. Garnish with the onion relish and if you have any olives at home, you can add them to the garnish
7. Chill for 1 hour and serve
It will do nicely by itself thank you very much
Pearls of Wisdom
1. Do not over boil the potatoes and drain well from the water to ensure they are
nice and stiff when you mash them
2. There are no hard and fast rules on how you layer and the size of the dish you
layer in. For presentation purposes in the photo above, I layered it on a
chopping board and used a cookie cutter to pull them out
Causa is one of my favorite Peruvian dishes. This recipe looks delicious, can't wait to try it!!!