you may be thinking “What will i eat while in Peru?” Well…they say opposites attract and never has the phrase rung so true as on virtually every dinner dish in Peru.
Hot and cold on the same plate…
Acidic flavours thrown together with starchy tastes…
Robust recipes that somehow retain an essence of the delicate…
How do they do it? Traditional Peruvian food is full of spices and bold flavours that exist to tame each other throughout every mouthful.
Eye-capturing ancient ruins and snow-capped mountains, is often the reason Peru’s traditional cuisine is so often overlooked. But when the heritage of its food is this rich? A tour of the typical dishes you might eat in Peru deserves a spot on your list, if not your Bucket List.
In Peru, African, Spanish and East-Asian influences come together in a delicious melange of uniqueness – so… what will you eat in Peru?
Peru’s national dish – and for good reason – ceviche has the power to turn any fishophobe into an instant seafood zealot. Traditionally Ceviche is served cold, the dish consists of sea bass that’s been marinated for just a few minutes in lime juice, onion, salt and hot chillies.
The meal is balanced with some boiled corn and sweet potatoes, ceviche is scattered with dry roasted corn kernels too, to add in a bit of crunch into the texture. It doesn’t go badly with a glass of Pisco Sour either, thanks to all that lovely lime and saltiness. A must eat while in Peru.
Second in popularity to Ceviche is Lomo Saltado, the scrumptious love child of the classic Chinese stir-fry and more typical Peruvian cuisine. Tender strips of beef (or alpaca meat!) are typically marinated in soy sauce with onions, tomatoes, chillies and various spices before being thrown into the wok.
Best served with a heap of steamed rice and a cold drink to quench your thirst and help you cope with any heat from those chillies.
Papas a la Huancaína
All the greatest dishes include carbs and cream, right? This one’s certainly up there with the best of them. It’s a heap of sliced potatoes reposed in a delicious purée of queso fresco, Amarillo, garlic, evaporated milk, lime juice and saltine crackers, tantalising flavours to satisfy those taste buds.
Although, it may look like a bit of a yellowish mess, and the strange addition of a chopped up soft-boiled egg alongside might throw you too, but don’t be fooled. The magnificent balance of subtle and spicy flavours is simply delightful, and you’ll soon be wondering why on earth we don’t serve a side of tatties like this with all our meals.
Cuy (or guinea pig to you and me)
Vegetarians and animal lovers look away now (but you knew this one was coming).
After alpaca, guinea pigs provide the second most popular source of meat in the Andes. And while the notion of munching a rodent – or, dare we say it, a beloved pet – might sound a little bit, err, gross, the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of the smoky meat should quickly convert you.
Traditional cuy dishes see the guinea pig stuffed with herbs before being slow-roasted over an open wood fire to whip up that delicious smokiness. All we’re saying is, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. Although no where else will you eat a dish quite like this than Peru.
Think stuffed peppers, but on steroids. Rocoto relleno are chillies that have been hollowed out for stuffing with anything from ground beef, onions and raisins, to garlic, herbs and spices. A little queso fresco in the mix, bake the lot in a savoury custard and you’ve got something really rather special.
A quick word of warning though, the locals might call them peppers but you really are better off thinking of these things as chillies, since they’re some ten times hotter than a jalapeno.Can’t handle the heat of the initial bite? You’ll find the creamy filling takes at least some of the edge off.
Anticuchos de Corazón (not for the faint-hearted)
Once you get over the shock of what Anticuchos de Corazón actually is, you’ll probably enjoy it an awful lot. Well maybe you won’t, but who can say unless you try?
This hearty dish is, well, it’s exactly that. Hearts.
Leaner than filet mignon, beefier than rib-eye, these alpaca or cows’ hearts are typically cut into two inch cubes. It’s marinated in vinegar, cumin and garlic before being grilled over charcoal, usually to a medium rare finish.
Find them cooked on a skewer between slices of onion and potato, a bit like Peru’s answer to your typical shish kebab. So if you’re partial to a guilty shish at the weekend, and you’re up for braving something a little different, be sure to add some Anticuchos de Corazón to your list of dishes to try.
If these dishes sound appealing to you (or you can at least handle the idea of eating guinea pig), then why not join us on our next adventure to Peru?!