If you’re just starting out with the goal of becoming well-versed in Peruvian cooking, you may encounter some ingredients that sound a bit confusing, and you may worry that they are hard to find. However, with brands like Mama Tina’s making more of their products available online, anyone can create authentic Peruvian dishes at home. For example, Peruvian stews such as carapulcra will call for papa seca amarilla. The literal translation is dried yellow potato. Not so confusing, right? These potatoes are dried naturally in the cool Andean air and work wonderfully when added to soups and stews. They are available at bodegas and some grocery stores, particularly in areas with a strong South American influence. For example, we are lucky here in Southern Connecticut, where a large group of Peruvian Americans means a better selection of local Peruvian food. But, as I mentioned, you can also find papa seca amarilla online. Of course, the Internet is also a great source for Peruvian recipes. If you prefer to purchase a cookbook, we recommend The Art of Peruvian Cuisine by Felipe Antonio Custer.
From the category archives:
Anticuchos are a traditional Peruvian street food, but can also be found in restaurants across the country. Tender beef heart is marinated in a seasoning mixture that includes aji panca, one of the most popular Peruvian chili peppers, and then grilled on a skewer, for a simple, yet delicious treat. You can also make an aji panca marinade for chicken, or any other meat you enjoy, but the most traditional way to enjoy anticuchos is to use beef heart. The easiest way to make a marinade like this is to use aji panca paste, which contains all of the authentic flavor of the peppers without the need for fresh produce. A couple of teaspoons of this potent paste can transform a simple recipe into an authentic Peruvian dish. Try anticuchos the next time you visit your local Peruvian restaurant.
Flaxseed flour, or flaxseed meal, is a wonderful ingredient for cooking and baking, as well as a simple way to add nutrients to any snack or dish. Simply mix it into yogurt or fruit salad for added fiber, omega-3s, vitamins, and protein. Also use flax flour in place of some whole wheat or white flour in your baked goods. From smoothies and shakes to bread and pancakes, there is always a way to add healthy fats and fiber to your diet using just a little bit of flaxseed flour. In Peru, flaxseed meal is called Harina de Linaza, or flour of flaxseeds, so the words meal and flour are interchangeable in this case. A good tip is to drink extra water when eating flaxseeds, or add extra water to your baking recipes when using flax flour.
The Coupe du Monde, or World Cup of Baking, takes place in a likely location – France. However, some people may be surprised to hear that one of the favorite teams heading to the international invitational is from Peru. Already a top team in South America, Peru’s bakers have been working on their recipes and techniques for the past year in preparation for this high stakes event. Their most valuable ingredients are Peru’s native super grains – kiwicha, quinoa, purple corn flour, and more. The team includes an expert in savory breads, a pastry specialist, a bread artist, and an alternate. The other countries that will be represented at this prestigious event are France, Italy, Sweden, Poland, Netherlands, Japan, Correa, Taiwan, Senegal, United States and Costa Rica. The teams have less than one month to perfect their creations before the event, which runs from March 3rd to the 7th. One promising Peruvian recipe, called Machu Picchu bread, is marbled with chocolate pastry. It will take some strong competition to compete with Peru’s grains and culinary techniques.
Huacatay (wa-ka-tie) is black mint, native to Peru. The leaves are ground into a paste before they are used in most recipes, and pre-made huacatay paste is one of the best ingredients to have in your pantry when cooking Peruvian food. Mama Tina’s Huacatay Paste, pictured here, is imported from Peru and contains no artificial preservatives. Use it to create pollo a la brasa, or Peruvian rotisserie chicken, or a list of other condiments and dishes. Mama Tina’s will also be introducing frozen huacatay leaves soon, which can be ground as needed. Pastes, along with frozen and dried peppers, make Peruvian cooking easy. We also recommend The Art of Peruvian Cuisine as a comprehensive cookbook, along with the Mama Tina’s Peruvian Food website.
Frommer’s, one of the top guide book publishers in the world, has named Lima as its Top Foodie Destination for 2012. Beating out cities across Europe, Asia, North and South America that are known for their local cuisine is quite an honor. The diversity and creativity on Peruvian menus keeps people coming back for more. From Asian-inspired Chuafa and Lomo Saltado to fresh Ceviche, each Peruvian meal is filled with alluring sights, smells and flavors. Whether it’s a simple meal of Anticuchos or Papa a la Huancaina, or a taste of Peruvian Food at a five-star restaurant, visitors to Lima find that they are amazed at the array of traditional dishes as well as creative new ones. Peru’s capital city is certainly an essential vacation spot for foodies.
There are so many interesting Peruvian dishes to choose from. If you’re new to Peruvian cuisine, you might have trouble deciding where to start. One idea is to try a layered Peruvian dish of potatoes and meat or rice and meat. Arroz Tapado is a wonderful Peruvian specialty that uses ingredients you probably already have, with a few special flavors added to the mix. In its simplest form, Arroz Tapado is a layering of seasoned meat between two layers of rice. However, dried aji peppers add heat and depth, and tomatoes, carrots and peas add color to make a fun dish. The presentation of this Peruvian dish is what makes it especially unique, as you can see from the photo on the left. However, a similar presentation is also used for Causa, which substitutes a pureed potato mixture for the white rice. Causa can be filled with chicken salad, shrimp and other fillings. If you’re in the mood for a hearty meal of meat and starch with some interesting flavor combinations, why not try making your own version of Arroz Tapado or Causa tonight? And if you’d rather be served, check this search engine for a Peruvian restaurant in your area.
There are three famous Peruvian chili peppers – aji amarillo, aji panca and rocoto. They each have a distinctive taste that goes well with certain kinds of dishes. Rocoto is the hottest, and is best when used in small quantities, as it is in many traditional Peruvian Food dishes. Finely chopped rocoto is often added to ceviche, a raw fish delicacy that is “cooked” by the acidity of a lime-based marinade. You can also use rocoto to spice up aji sauce or salsas for dipping. Another creative recipe idea is to mix rocoto with a sweeter pepper, like a red bell, for a sweet and spicy flavor. Interestingly, some Rocoto peppers look just like bell peppers at first glance, but once you cut one open, you’ll see the tiny black seeds (which are extremely hot!) One of my favorite ways to use rocoto and sweet pepper is in a veal and pepper saute. Coat veal cutlets lightly with flour and saute, then set aside. Next add some more oil and onions to the pan, followed by minced garlic and both types of peppers. Adding chicken broth and a little bit of the juice from the rocoto and sweet pepper jars will make a nice sauce. For full details on this and other Peruvian Recipes, visit Mama Tina’s.
Peru is known for its exceptionally diverse climates, and the array of fruits and vegetables that are grown there. From lucuma to cherimoya, exotic fruits can be found throughout the country. Some of the fruits in particular are more than just delicious, however, and offer substantial health benefits. For example, the sanky, pronounced son-key, contains ten times more vitamin C than an orange. The fruits grow on top of cacti, and are carefully picked by farmers on small ladders. The fruits have been used to rehydrate shepherds in the fields, and could become a popular health food in other countries if the efforts of Peruvians are successful. They know their country has a lot to offer the growing worldwide health industry, and hopefully they will be successful in marketing their produce and other exports.
The doors open today at the much anticipated La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in New York City. The restaurant is the long awaited fulfillment of one man’s dream of bringing the world’s best food to one of its biggest cities. The owner is Gaston Acurio, easily the most famous Peruvian on the planet. With a fierce devotion to Peruvian cuisine and the a serious culinary education to back him up, Acurio has taken the world by storm. He is now the founder of 32 restaurants in 14 cities across the globe, with his first restaurant opening just 17 years ago. Although this new space will be a challenge due to its large seating capacity and competition of nearby restaurants, Acurio is confident that New York City is the right choice for his new endeavor. The Wall Street Journal called Peruvian food “The Next Big Thing” last week, and with Gaston Acurio’s new restaurant, that certainly seems correct.