Papa a la Huancaína

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Papa a la Huancaína
Papa a la huancaina.jpg
CourseHors d'oeuvre
Place of originPeru
Serving temperatureCold
Main ingredientsYellow potatoes, Huancaína sauce (Queso fresco, vegetable oil, aji amarillo, evaporated milk, salt)

Papa a la Huancaína (literally, Huancayo style potatoes) is a Peruvian appetizer of boiled yellow potatoes (similar to the Yukon Gold potatoes) in a spicy, creamy sauce called Huancaína sauce. Although the dish's name is derived from Huancayo, a city in the Peruvian highlands, this dish is from Lima - Perú. It has become a staple of everyday and holiday cuisine throughout the country.[1][2]

It is typically served cold as a starter over lettuce leaves and garnished with black olives, white corn kernels and hard boiled egg quarters.

The sauce is made of queso fresco (fresh white cheese), vegetable oil, aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian pepper), evaporated milk and salt mixed in a blender. Some recipes call for garlic, onion and crushed saltines. This sauce is also used in many other Peruvian dishes.

In the south of Peru (Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa) it is served with ocopa rather than Huancaína sauce, made from freshly toasted peanuts, fried onions and tomatoes, aji amarillo, cream or condensed milk, crushed crackers or dried bread, salt, and huacatay (Tagetes minuta).

Because it is served cold, Papa a la Huancaina is a favorite food of Peruvians to take on picnics and trips.


The origin of Papa a la Huancaina is controversial. On one side, stories exist that point to the area of Lima:

  • The most well-known story explains that it emerged during the construction of Peru’s Central Railroad, stretching from Lima to Huancayo. Food for the workers was prepared by Huancan women who boiled potatoes and served them with a cheese, pepper and milk sauce, which would become Papas a la Huancaina.
  • A more modern story explains that the plate was served at the railway stations between Lima and Huancayo, sold to passengers as a light food consisting of potatoes bathed in a delicious cheese and pepper sauce. From that came the name “potatoes that you eat in route to Hauncayo” which would later be changed to Papa a la Huancaina.

While the cheese and the potato are produced along the Peruvian sierra, they are also produced along the coast. In fact, the cultivating of the yellow pepper takes place only in coastal zones (4,000-year-old yellow pepper remnants have been found in the archaeological sites of Huaca Prieta and Ancon). In addition, the olives that accompany the preparation, also originate from the coast, and not the city of Huancayo. It should also be mentioned that it does not match the preparation style of typical Huancan food, which often consists of hot foods made with red meat, additionally in the cities along the Peruvian sierra it is uncommon to serve appetizers.


  1. ^ Lourdes Castro (26 April 2011). Latin Grilling: Recipes to Share, from Argentine Asado to Yucatecan Barbecue and More. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 324. ISBN 978-1-60774-004-9. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  2. ^ Lois Sinaiko Webb (December 1995). Holidays of the world cookbook for students. ABC-CLIO. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-89774-884-1. Retrieved 31 August 2011.

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