Located in South America and sitting near the equator, Peru is a country that shares some of the Amazonian rainforest and is known for its ancient cities with mountain backdrops. Besides the plentiful scenery that it has to offer, Peruvian food is not to miss either. Incorporating corn, potatoes, legumes and meat into many of the signature dishes, the cuisine it is guaranteed to give your taste buds a great time.
Ceviche, also cebiche, seviche, or sebiche, centers on seafood and is one of the most well-known dishes local to Peru, even known internationally as Peruvian sushi. Red onions, cilantro and lots of lemon adds texture and compliments the dish. Incorporating raw fish and a fresh marinade to match, the dish is both balanced and flavorsome.
If you’re after something more filling and that can still be served as a smaller dish or an appetizer, Anticuchos is for you. Found in both street stalls and inside luxury restaurants, the dish is based on the meat and is accompanied by a staple carbohydrate. The meat is served on skewers and is usually grilled beef heart and served with yellow potatoes or corn. Although it sounds simple, paired with the right condiments and flavors, sometimes simple is best.
Another appetizer that is instead on the lighter side and is emblematic of Peruvian cuisine are Rocoto Relleno, or more commonly known as stuffed red peppers or capsicums (depending where you’re from). The red pepper is center stage of the dish but with a balanced minced meet and cheese filling, it pairs with the heat of the red pepper and leaves you feeling more than satisfied.
Arroz con Pato
If you’re after something more substantial, Arroz con Pato may be the dish for you. It is another dish that is more common in Peru but is also found in many other Latin American countries as well.
The dish centers on duck served with a bed of rice. Unlike regular cooking techniques for duck, the Peruvian technique gives it a very unique flavor, as it is lightly fried first and then cooked in broth, beer and pisco (Peruvian alcoholic beverage) that is only found locally. With the flavors of the seasoned rice and addition of the duck, this dish is one to impress.
Similar to a type of stir fry, Lomo Saltado is a traditional creole dish that incorporates fresh vegetables paired with a finely minced meat. In the making, the ingredients are salted and cooked in a wok on a high flame until tender. The right condiments with the correct choice of meat, make the dish simple but effective.
Aji de Gallina
Like a chicken stew, Aji de Gallina consists of a soup made of chicken, rice, milk and other ingredients to compliment the dish. With the correct Peruvian cooking technique, the chicken is soft and has the right texture that makes it a rewarding meal, and like any dish of Peruvian cuisine, it packs a punch of flavor.
Tacu Tacu is a very traditional dish prepared with rice and day-old beans. The reason for this is the beans are stronger in flavour and texture this way and although usually canary beans are used in cooking, the type can vary from place to place. As rice and beans are staples in any pantry, they can be paired with a range of local seasonings to really incorporate the Peruvian flavor.
Arroz Chaufa Peruano
Arroz chaufa, also known as Arroz de chaufa, is known as a Chinese-Peruvian fried rice and a Chifa style dish and is derived from the Chinese cuisine due to the influx of Chinese immigrants to Peru. Like a Chinese fried rice, the dish is a mix of fried rice with vegetables, scallions, egg (cooked as an omelette) and usually is paired with chicken. Soy sauce and oil play a big role in the dish and are the essential flavours, but the Peruvian twist includes dark soy sauce and usually incorporate heavier meats such as pork, beef or chicken. In some regions, quinoa or pearled wheats are used in replacement of rice.
Popular in the capital of Peru in Lima, Papa Rellena or more commonly known as Peruvian stuffed potatoes, is a common street dish that is exactly what it’s called! Potatoes are fried with a type of dough and filled with delicious ingredients like meat, olives, onions or even hard-boiled eggs and then fried again. Although not the healthiest, it is definitely one to try!
As one of the most traditional dishes of the Peruvian cuisine, Pachamanca is served in abundance and includes many of the traditional Peruvian ingredients. It combines various meats (lamb, pork and chicken) with potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, lima beans and yucca, all with the help of hot stones in the preparation of the meal. As the dish has existed since the Incan Empire period of time, it is considered one of the important dishes of the Peruvian culture and is more common in the Andes region of Peru.
Although common in Peru, sometimes Cuy Chactado turns heads. Not because of bad flavors but because Cuy is a large rodent commonly found in Peru. It involves frying an entire cuy in vegetable oil until crunchy and easily broken up. A special stone oven is used to ensure the cuy is cooked until perfection. As the meat is broken up into pieces easily, it is served with a side of potato and salad and can be combined with condiments this way.
Many recipes can be found online to recreate and experience some of the Peruvian culture in your household but to get the full experience, why not visit a proper Peruvian restaurant? That way it eliminates the hassle of preparing and organizing each dish but allows you to taste authentic Peruvian cuisine. A good option if you’re based in Melbourne is https://www.pastuso.com.au/.