Found on every table in Ecuador, ají, which can mean either hot sauce or hot pepper, is an all-purpose condiment. Some versions are smooth purees that look like Tabasco sauce, while this chunky onion ají is more like a relish. The ají is refrigerated overnight before serving, so plan accordingly.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups


  • 2 medium red onions, very thinly sliced on a mandoline

  • Salt

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water

  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped

  • 2 fresh cayenne or serrano chiles, seeded and minced

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, toss the onions with 1 tablespoon of salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes longer. Pour the onions into a colander, rinse under cold water and drain well; pat dry.

  2. Wipe out the bowl with paper towels and return the onions to it. Stir in the tomato, chiles, lime juice and cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The ají can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

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