Essential Peruvian Food Recipes

Essential Peruvian Food Recipes

Peru is a culinary jewel of South America. With its abundant raw ingredients, dizzying variety of elevations, and clever chefs and home cooks of Peruvian Food who celebrate their history while perpetually innovating a cuisine that is as varied as its landscape, it’s a cuisine everyone should experience. But if you can’t travel and don’t have any Peruvian restaurants nearby, you can (and should) bring Peruvian cuisine into your own kitchen.

Chicha Morada

Start things off with something to sip—that’s not a Pisco Sour (though we always welcome one of those as well). This refreshing, non-alcoholic drink is made from purple corn, pineapple rinds, and apples, spiced with cinnamon and clove, and spiked with lime juice. As striking as it is thirst-quenching, chicha morada is an iconic drink in Peru that should be as widely known as sangria outside of Spain (though this one can be enjoyed by all ages).

Peruvian Quinoa Soup

Quinoa is one of Peru’s most important food exports. It’s a staple in the cooking repertoire of the Andean Mountains, its high protein content providing the indigenous people of this region with the stamina required to work in mountainous elevations. This soup recipe is as comforting as it is flavorful and nutritious. It includes not only quinoa but also corn, tomatoes, and root vegetables, other Peruvian food staples essential to this nation’s culinary lexicon.

Ceviche

Ceviche could easily be considered the national dish of Peru, a nation of vast shorelines from which a bounty of fresh fish and shellfish is harvested. Choclo, a starchy boiled variety of corn, crunchy red raw onions, aji (hot chiles), and lime juice are essential Peruvian ceviche ingredients. Leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) is the marinade that remains after the ceviche is prepared. It is consumed as a shot, either alone or with a splash of Pisco, and is considered the ultimate hangover cure. This recipe also includes crunchy celery and evaporated milk for extra creaminess. It is garnished with sweet potatoes, another Peruvian staple.

Causa (Potato Casserole)

Potato casserole is a quintessential Peruvian recipe. It’s an excellent way to incorporate a few of the nation’s estimated 4,000 varieties of potatoes into a dish that is as elegant as it is simple. This recipe includes chicken for additional substance along with chiles for heat and mayonnaise for a silky texture. Stacking it in layers gives it a wow factor belying the ease in which it comes together.

Sudado de Pescado (Peruvian Steamed Fish)

Steamed fish reflects the abundance of seafood thriving in the oceans that kiss the long Peruvian coastline. It’s a favorite Sunday staple for families who live in the low elevations of the nation, reflecting “criollo,” which is defined as the marriage of ingredients from the land and the sea. This recipe includes a slow-cooked fish stock along with sweet potatoes, peas, and a splash of white wine. (Chupa de camarones is another delicious Peruvian dish, and a strong contender for best international seafood soup.)

Aji Verde

This vibrant aji verde (green sauce) includes Peru’s precious peruvian food yellow aji amarillo for some spice, along with plenty of fresh oregano, cilantro, and jalapeño. Serve this with steak, fish, roasted veggies, or grilled chicken—or just add it to a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a quick and delicious dinner, perhaps with a quinoa salad on the side.

Aji de Gallina

It doesn’t get more tempting than this creamy shredded chicken stew with a ground walnut and cheese base. It’s a noteworthy favorite in both restaurants and homes throughout the nation where its slow-cooking fills the room with an aroma so tempting guests will linger without hesitation until the golden-hued dish is brought to the table.

Lomo Saltado

This dish of beef strips marinated in soy sauce before they are stir-fried, is nearly as beloved as ceviche in Peru. It represents the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian flavors and cooking techniques known as “chifa.” The beef is cooked in a sauce comprised of tomatoes and onions that result in a rich gravy with intense flavor. It is served atop a bed of fluffy white rice and is sometimes accompanied by a side of French fries as a final nod to its fusion roots.

Suspiro de Limeña

The national dessert of Peru, this is essentially a deeply caramelized, ultra-silky butterscotch pudding topped with port-infused meringue and a dusting of cinnamon. The name translates to “sigh of the lady (of Lima)” and it is indeed that good.

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