Native cassava is transformed through grating, fermentation and cooking over wood fires into a delicious condiment that has been enjoyed for thousands of years around the hearths of communal longhouses in the Amazon and is only now being discovered by people outside the Amazon.
Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, world-renowned chef and explorer, found tucupi, also known as ají negro, in his expeditions in the Amazon in search of new ingredients and flavors melding the jungle, traditional indigenous cuisine and cutting-edge gastronomy. Since 2013, Pedro Miguel has been working with the indigenous women of the Ampiyacu River to incorporate this traditional sauce into the high-end offerings of his acclaimed Lima restaurant, amaZ.
By bringing this first shipment of tucupi from the Ampiyacu to your doorstep, we want to help a whole new crew of culinary adventurers to connect with the Amazon, and open the doors to new opportunities for the indigenous women who have safeguarded this traditional treasure for generations.
Cooking with Tucupi
The reaction of virtually every chef we’ve shared it with is something like, “This is amazing! How is it possible that I’d never even heard of it before?” It works in sauces, soups, chilies, barbecue and dipping to bring out a depth of smoky, tangy flavor.
We´ve put together a set of recipes that you can check out at: www.tucupi.com
What is Tucupi? The Flavor of Amazon Culture
Tucupi is derived from yuca brava grown with traditional farming techniques that are result of deep ancestral knowledge, in delicate balance with the rainforest environment.
Tucupi is brewed by a number of indigenous people who have learned to tame toxic manioc (also known as yuca or cassava) and make it not but edible, but delicious. Bitter manioc (yuca brava) is rich in cyanide compounds which make it poisonous to consume in its natural state. But careful grating, washing, soaking and fermentation turn it into a staple food for indigenous peoples like the Bora and Huitoto. It is prepared by other indigenous groups, who each know it by a different name and have developed rich variations in process and flavor – akin to the varieties of mole sauce found in Mexico.
Each indigenous culture has developed their own variations which are a source of pride and identity. The Huitoto call it Ommaï while to the Bora it is Do-Hmepa, the Muinane know it as Kigai, and the Secoya prize their Neapia. Traditional flavorings used locally include potent Amazon chili powder and even rainforest ants! Our sauce is just the pure, bold flavor of tucupi – you´ll have to add your own ants.