Huacaray Peruvian plant is a member of the marigold family. It is used in Peruvian recipes in either paste form or leaf form. Read our guide for more facts and information…
To use as a seasoning, the leaves of the Huacatay are chopped and then pureed for use as a spice. You may also use the Huacatay paste for seasoning, but be aware it has some added vinegar and may not taste the same as the leaves of the plant.
Huacatay Use Origins
The use of Huacatay as a spice or food additive goes back to the ancient Incas. When the Spanish came to South America in the 16th century, they took seeds of the Huacatay plant back with them, and it came into common usage in Spanish cooking as well as Peruvian cooking.
Where Huacatay is Found
In the United States it is often very hard to find the Huacatay Peruvian plant. You will need to go to a store that caters to South American clientele. If there is no ethnic store of this type, you can try the internet for sites to order from. You can find Huacatay paste in this way as well. If you do, remember the added vinegar and adjust your recipe with that in mind.
You might want to try growing it yourself. It grows very easily in a warm soil and warm climate. There is a caution here. Huacatay is of the marigold or mint family. As such, it is very invasive. With this in mind, you may want to grow it in a pot so that your yard will not be taken over. Good news is that it comes back annually, so once you have successfully grown this plant, you will always have a supply. The seeds may be found on the internet as well, and sometimes in the ethnic stores you can find the seeds frozen.
Recipes for using Huacatay are easily found on the internet. There are probably dozens of variations for the same recipe. It is best to read several, so that you get a general idea of what you want in the recipe. This is especially true when you make the green sauce by using Huacatay. You may even find recipes for this using mayo and jalapenos, two ingredients not used in Peruvian cooking. By reading the various recipes and trying the variations, you are sure to come up with one that your family truly likes.
Another word of note. If you try all the methods you can think of to find Huacatay and cannot find it, there are substitutes. Of course as in all matters the original is better, but you might use coriander, mint and basil as your substitutes. You could also look for Black Marigold, the American translation for Huacatay.