Peruvian Potato Cake with Prawns, Avocado, and Garlic Mayonnaise Causa Rellena

Presented by: Consuelo O. Ledesma, from Seattle

Cook's Note: Causa is a potato cake with a flavorful filling, such as cooked meat or seafood, or as in this recipe with prawns and avocado. The quality of the potato is the most important factor in the success of a causa. In its land of origin, Peru, the papa amarilla, a yellow-fleshed potato, is used. Except for those filled with seafood, causas can be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated. Causa can be served as an appetizer or hearty and satisfying main dish and is an ideal dish for the buffet table. This recipe uses raw eggs, which may be a food safety issue for some consumers.

serves 12-14

Ingredients for Causa

  • 4 1/2 pounds yellow potatoes
  • 2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup Hot Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/8 cup Garlic Cumin Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Ingredients for Filling

  • 4 cups cooked prawns, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4 medium avocados
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Garlic Cumin Mayonnaise

Ingredients for Garlic Cumin Mayonnaise: Mayonesa con ajo y comino

  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon regular mustard
  • 3/4-1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup light olive oil

Ingredients for Hot Sauce: Salsa de aji

  • 4 fresh green jalapeños
  • 6 fresh red jalapeños
  • 9 fresh bright yellow jalapeños
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2-3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional Garnish

Boston lettuce leaves, alfonso or kalamata olives, and feta cheese cut into cubes. You will find alfonso olives in Latin markets. These olives are imported from Peru, Argentina or Chile.

Preparation for filling and causa

For filling, mix prawns, celery and garlic mayonnaise. Taste and adjust for salt consistency. Remember that the potatoes already have some salt!

For causa, wash and peel potatoes. Cut potatoes lengthwise and place potatoes, garlic and salt in a large pot. Cover with water and boil them until the potatoes are soft. Watch that they don’t disintegrate; remove pieces that get cooked first. Drain well. Place potatoes in a large bowl and using a potato masher, mash potatoes until they are well mixed and potatoes become like a thick purée. Then add hot sauce, mayonnaise, celery seeds, lime juice and white pepper. Mix well and taste for salt.

Oil an 8 x 13inch tray lightly. Press in half of the mashed potato preparation. Smooth the surface and then pour in the prawn filling. Make sure the filling is well distributed. Peel avocados and cut them into Jinch strips; place on top of prawns. If desired, spread a bit more garlic mayonnaise on top of avocados. Gently pour the other half of the potatoes on top of the prawn/avocado mix. Again smooth the surface and spread garlic mayonnaise, if desired. Cover and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before serving. Before serving, cut potato cake into 2inch or larger squares. It makes about 24 pieces.

For assembly, place half a leaf of Boston lettuce on a plate. Top with a square of causa and garnish with a piece of feta cheese and alfonso or kalamata olive. Or cut any type of lettuce into thin strips and cover bottom of plate with chopped lettuce, top with a piece of causa and garnish with olive and feta cheese.


Instead of prawns you can use shredded cooked chicken, turkey, white fish, or canned albacore white tuna, or a seafood mix. Instead of avocado use 1G cups of mixed veggies cut into small pieces (carrots, peas, green beans, celery, etc.).

Preparation for Garlic Cumin Mayonnaise: Mayonesa con ajo y comino

Boil garlic for 2 minutes. In a blender, pour eggs, garlic, cumin, mustard, lime juice, salt and pepper. Blend for 20 to 30 seconds. Pour in the canola oil in a continuous thin stream. Then add the olive oil, also in a thin stream, until mayonnaise is thick and the blender starts burping.

Preparation for Hot Sauce: Salsa de aji

Cook's notice: In Peru you will find this sauce served in small bowls and placed around the table in homes and restaurants. People add this sauce to any kind of food they are eating to make their food hot.

Boil garlic for 2 minutes. Wear rubber gloves to rinse jalapeños, cut in half and remove seeds and veins. Save the seeds and veins for later. Place all jalapeños in a pan and cover with water, then boil them for a minute or two. Drain water and let cool. Use a blender to purée half the jalapeños, all the garlic and the salt. Add oil, little by little, until you get the consistency of sauce (not runny). Then add remaining jalapeños. You might need to add more of the yellow and red, as this sauce is typically yellow to deep orange in color. If you want the sauce to be hotter, just add some of the seeds and veins you have saved.

This sauce can be refrigerated for weeks. You can also freeze this sauce in ice cube trays. Once they are set, place the hot sauce cubes into a plastic bag and keep it in the freezer, using cubes as you need them.


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