I’ve recently fallen in love with a type of food I never ate before, especially since it’s out of my typical safe realm, but I like it! The best way to describe Peruvian food is that it is based off of Spanish cuisine, but then spun in its own way. You will notice influences of African, Chinese, and Japanese touches as well. The Incas, who were in Peru, used potatoes as their main ingredient along with quinoa, hot peppers, corn, local fruits, and local meat. Peanuts are native too.
The Spanish came along and brought with them olives, grapes, dairy, beef, chicken, rice and their techniques. With the Spanish came slaves from Africa, and they brought their cuisine as well. The Chinese came into the country with their frying techniques, soy, and ginger. The Japanese introduced seafood into the Peruvian diet for its final touch… hello, ceviche!
The national drink of Peru is pisco, which comes from fermented grape juice. It’s not a wine but a brandy, and there are four separate types:
- Pure- made of Quebranta, Mollar, or Black grapes
- Aromatic- grapes from the muscatel family
- Green Must- uses partially fermented must
- Acholado- “half-breed” pisco combined two different types of grapes
When it comes to the food, dishes become more complex. My personal favorites are ceviche and lomo saltado, which aren’t even that hard to recreate. Lomo saltado is a dish with french fries and delicious stir fry beef marinated in soy sauce and vinegar… really, how can you go wrong? Find a recipe here.
Here’s a great recipe for ceviche:
- 1.5 lbs diced mahi mahi
- 1/2 diced red onion
- 1 habanero chili, seeded, sliced into thin slivers
- 1 tbsp ají amarillo sauce
- 3/4 cup of lime juice (fresh if possible)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 fresh chopped cilantro leaves
Rinse fish and onion in cold water and dry. Combine all the ingredients, except for the cilantro, and cover it in the fridge for twenty minutes. Add cilantro in right before serving. The lime juice will “cook” the fish while it’s in the refrigerator. You can serve it with lettuce and sweet potato or tostadas, chips, and avocado.
-Whitney J. Manson