Perhaps Arequipa’s signature entrée is the Rocoto Relleno. The rocoto is a chilli of Andean origin used for over 5000 years – one of the first to be domesticated. It looks very similar to a bell pepper but as one of the world’s spicier chillis, you can bet it doesn’t taste like one. In fact is is about 50 times spicier than a jalapeño. Rocoto Relleno is essentially rocoto stuffed with minced meat.
The top of the rocoto is carefully cut off and the seeds and insides removed. You must then place the bottoms and tops in water with sugar and vinegar to be boiled – boil the chillis 2 or 3 times with fresh water to lower the level of spiciness.
Ground beef and pork, both fried beforehand, are mixed with chopped onions and sliced hard-boiled eggs, seasoned with ají panca chilli paste, cumin, salt and pepper.
The rocotos are filled with the mixture, a slice of mozzarella cheese is placed on top, the the tops of the chilli are place decoratively on top of the cheese and all is then baked for 15 to 20 minutes and served immediately.