Peruvian food is gaining worldwide recognition. In London, restaurants Lima, Ceviche and Andina are plating up typical Peruvian dishes and incorporating ingrediants such as quinoa and chia seeds which are found in abundance in the Peruvian markets. While many dishes are distinctly Andean, a heavy base of potatoes is ubiquitous, there is also an obvious influence from Asian cuisine. While in Peru, I was determined to discover a few of the traditional plates, and ideally learn to cook them for myself. I searched high and low for a cooking class with a varied menu which would allow me to try my hand at more than one traditional dish. Eventually I found Cusco Culinary, a small establishment which offered the opportunity to cook ceviche, lomo saltado, and aji de gallina – all dishes that I had tasted and loved in restaurants. The terrifying cuy (fried guinea pig) would have to wait for a braver day. I can’t wait to get home and practice these dishes for myself, but in the meantime, I would like to share the recipies with all of you. Each dish is quick, easy and uses ingrediants found in every supermarket. My cooking style is however of the ‘throw it in’ rather than the ‘measure it out’ variety, so apologies for the lack of specificity with regards to the quantities.
Ceviche (for one)
1 fillet of white fish, cubed, raw (we used tilapia fillets)
1/2 chili, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
Juice of 4 limes
Coriander, finely chopped
Create a marinade of the lime juice, garlic, chili, onion, coriander and salt. If too acidic, water down with an ice cube. Pour just over half the marinade into a bowl with the fish and mix well. Present on the plate and top with the remainder of the marinade. Season with salt and pepper at will.
1 fillet of beef, cubed and basted with garlic and oil
1 tomato, cut into crescents
1 onion, cut into crescents
1 spring onion, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, cut into sticks
Fry the beef on a high heat until browned. Toss in the tomato, onion, pepper and spring onion. A dash of vinager and oyster sauce, top with coriander and sprinkle with soy sauce. At this point, if your culinary skils are up to it, toss the ingredients around in the plan until set alight. If however, you are like me and will most likely end up with beef cubes on the floor, stick to stirring. Serve with a side of rice or potatoes.
Aji de Gallina
1 fillet of chicken, pre-cooked and shredded
2 yellow peppers, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
Cheese (we used paria, a salted Peruvian cheese, but replace at will)
A few crackers
1 cup of chicken stock
Oil (vegetable is preferable)
Fry the onion and garlic until golden. Then, in a mixer, blend the peppers, cheese, crackers, onion and garlic. Add the stock gradually, with a dash of oil. The result should be a creamy, curry-esque mixture. Mix with the shredded chicken in a pan and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with potatoes.
Enjoy the feast!
Cusco Culinary is run by Cultural Immersion and operates out of a colonial house of Calle San Andres in Cusco. The cost is $59, which can be sent via Paypal, and includes a four hour cooking lesson and a tour of San Pedro food market. I had a fantastic time with Cinthya, my guide and translator, and with Eric, the chef. Both lovely people and it was a fantastic experience that I can take home.