domingo, 29 de octubre de 2017

Peruvian Gastronomy

The absolute affirmations are often the product of an idiosyncrasy that falls in the topics and that in many cases can be relativized, however, we believe that we do not exaggerate to say that the greatest pride of the Peruvians is its gastronomy.

Here it is often said that the feeling of the country and the way to measure the pulse to the national situation is in the comments of the taxi drivers and you will undoubtedly listen - for your own experience - the statement that says: "What do you think about Peruvian food?

We will try to make a brief summary about the flag dishes that you can taste in your stay inside the country that has been chosen for several consecutive years as a global gastronomic destination for various publications and websites specialized in the subject.

In this post we will talk only about the dishes. Later we will tell you the best options to taste them in the most famous restaurants of the country.


Ceviche or Cebiche (even Seviche or Sebiche in some areas) is a typical coastal dish from  Pacific Ocean area, which in its Peruvian version (the most famous) combines raw fish marinated in lemon, with aji, cilantro, onion in slices and canchita mountain, corn and sweet potato as accompaniments.

The importance of ceviche in Peru is such that it has been declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation and has been chosen by the Peruvians as the dish that best defines the country.

Although ceviche can be found in countries like Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Honduras or even Mexico, some chefs as recognized as Ferrán Adriá, have mentioned that the ceviche belongs historical and culturally to Peru.

Ceviche Recipes

The fish used in this flag dish are usually sole, grouper, bonito, tollo, parakeet, trout (mainly in the sierra area), or the cheapest pejerrey. In addition to the classic ceviche or fish ceviche, there are other variants like the ceviche mixto (mixed) (with fish and seafood); ceviche de conchas negras (black shells) (of a dark color by the addition of these shells, which also give an aphrodisiac effect); shrimp ceviche (typical in the region of Arequipa); octopus ceviche; Chiringuito (typical dish of the north coast of the country, Piura, based on dried meat of guitar - a spice of ray - marinated in lemon and ají) Amazonian ceviche (variant of the Peruvian jungle with river fish such as paiche, Amazonian dorado, corvina, catfish, or maiden).

*Some dishes derived from ceviche like Tiradito, in which the fish meat is cut into slices and covered with creams of chili, rocoto or other sauces based in ají; or Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk) (glass of leftover juice of fish ceviche with some chunks and canchita), Leche de monja (nun's milk) (same preparation but with seafood ceviche juice) and Leche de pantera (panther's milk) (same preparation but with the juice resulting from the ceviche of black shells).

ceviche, peruvian gastronomy, ceviche peru

Causa Limeña

Causa is without doubt one of the best complements of ceviche. This delicious dish composed of a potato dough to which aji and lemon are added, comes from the pre-Columbian tradition, which used the yellow potato variety because of its "earthy" character. Egg, black olives and avocado could also be added to the cause.

Over time the recipe was perfected and began to elaborate with a filling in its interior, that could be of chicken, tuna, crab or other seafood; this is the preparation that you can try in any cevicheria.

As an anecdote, the origin of the name of the dish is a subject of debate. On the one hand some culinary scholars claim that the word comes from the Quechua "Kausay", meaning "what feeds", as they also called the potato. On the other hand claim that the name of this recipe was given  in the Pacific War against Chile, for while they gave the rations to the Peruvian soldiers they were told: ¡Por la causa! (For the cause!)

Whatever the origin of the name, this dish is an unforgettable entrance if you want to taste the famous marine food of Lima.

causa, peruvian gastronomy, causa peru

Cuy Chactado

After knowing two of the most important dishes of the gastronomic tradition of the Peruvian coast, we will travel to the interior of the country to know one of the most typical dishes of the region of Arequipa. While it is true that visually this recipe is not very striking: we speak of a guinea pig (cuy) fried under a stone and served open on a plate.

Its presentation causes rejection to many visitors, so for this reason, it is difficult to find this dish in 'high-end' restaurants. In Lima there are several regional food restaurants where you can eat a good guinea pig. This subject we will see in an upcoming post.

Guinea Pig Peru, Peruvian gastronomy, guinea pig Peru

Ají de Gallina

Aji de Gallina is a rich dish composed, as the name implies, of a cooked and frayed hen, mixed in a cream of yellow aji, in which is added bread soaked and milk. In some recipes the aji cream is also added parmesan and pecans (similar to nuts) that gives it a more intense flavor.

A good Peruvian friend tells me that her grandmother is preparing a variant of this dish called "Aji de tuna", which I still can not find in any restaurant, but it is already promised! Chicken aji is usually served with rice and a slice of hard-boiled egg.

Aji de Gallina Peru, Peruvian gastronomy, Aji de Gallina Aji of hen Per

Lomo Saltado

If I were asked what three foods define Peru I would make it clear: Ceviche, Causa and Lomo Saltado, but with that statement would be sinning to have a Lima´s point of view.

Lomo saltado is a very simple dish that fuses Chinese cuisine with Peruvian, consisting of beef, onion, green aji, vinegar, parsley, fries and a little squirt of soy sauce and another one of pisco.

Depending on the quality of beef used the result can be spectacular and there are several restaurants that specialize in this flag dish. But this is another story and we will discover it later in our blog.

Lomo Saltado Peru, Peruvian gastronomy, Lomo Saltado

Tacu Tacu

I have to admit I have weakness for this dish in any of its variants. Tacu tacu was initially elaborated by Afro-Peruvian slave women who, in the face of scarcity, mixed leftover foods in a frying pan and fried them.

The classic tacu tacu consists of rice mixed with beans, although there are also mixtures of other legumes, such as pallares or lentils. The tacu tacu is usually accompanied by fried plantain, fried egg and a sheet (breaded fillet covering it).

Other variants are the tacu tacu of seafood, topped with shrimp, crab, shells and a tacu tacu sauce or tacu, chicken, beef or seafood. There is a very rich variant that is the tacu tacu with lomo saltado, in which the salted spine covers the plate.

As an anecdote to say that the name "tacu tacu" comes from Quechua "takuy", which means to mix one thing with the other.

Tacu Tacu Peru, Peruvian gastronomy, Tacu tacu

Tacacho con Cecina

And to not forget the Amazonian gastronomy, so intense in flavors, we can not overlook the Tacacho with cecina, one of the richest preparations that is served in the jungle along with other traditional dishes like Patarashca or Juanes (we will see later).

The tacacho is a mass composed of crushed green bellaco banana that has been previously cooked or roasted in coals of coal, and has been given a round shape. The tacacho is served with cecina (smoked pork dried meat), and sometimes also with the traditional chorizo of the jungle.

The word "tachacho" would derive from the Quechua "taka chu", which means "what struck". In some restaurants also it is accompanied of a sauce formed by ají charapita, cocona and onion.

Tacacho con cecina, Peruvian Gastronomy

Chupe de Camarones (Shrimp Soup)

As they say, I wanted to leave the best for the end, because this dish is one of the best culinary experiences that I have had in my life.

This recipe is a kind of soup made up of shrimp (prawns or prawns), cheese, tomato, chili, celery, garlic, corn, huacatay, evaporated milk, oregano, oil, and egg.

On another occasion I tried it with rice in the background, something that in my opinion should be out of the recipe. This dish is traditional of Arequipa, although it is very frequent to find it in the cevicherías of Lima. I remember when I saw the elaboration, the heads of the shrimp were liquefied along with the previously fried aji in the frying pan. Sincerely, it is an es-pec-ta-cu-lar dish.

Chupe de Camarones, Shrimp Soup Peru, Peruvian Gastronomy

We could continue talking about so many other Peruvian dishes that deserve to be on this list (such as grilled chicken, huacaína potato, rice with chicken, stuffed rocoto or dry shabelo), but as we said at the beginning, there would be no space in this blog. We wanted to give you a brief summary of some of the gastronomic delights that you will find during your visit.

PS: If you dare to prepare any of these dishes we leave you some YouTube videos. With the cuy, with the tacacho and with the shrimp soup I did not dare, but here you can consult the rest! (*We know It is in spanish, but the important is the way you'll see the recipe!)

In our next post we will give you a list of the 10 best restaurants to eat in Lima, a gastronomic destination worldwide. Come hungry. You're warned.

Esteban García, Peru Travels Blog
October 2017

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