Best Peruvian Ceviche Recipes
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Peruvian Ceviche Shopping Tips
Seafood shopping is quite easy in the general sense. Rule of thumb: if it smells fishy, don't buy. Fresh seafood should smell mild and more like the ocean and sea water rather than fish.
Peruvian Ceviche Cooking Tips
Looking for a quick mid-week dinner? Seafood is a safe bet. It's quick to cook and simple recipes can get dinner on the table in 20 minutes.
PERFECT PERUVIAN CEVICHE RECIPE
Today I have a special childhood recipe the classic Peruvian Ceviche Recipe. Ceviche is one of the summer obsessions…, not just because is fresh, healthy, and flavorful, but is because I also grow up eating ceviche. Thanks to my Peruvian roots, I discover a long time ago my love for ceviche especially when is made with the typical chili rocoto. This classic ceviche recipe is very easy to prepare and is very refreshing especially in summer.
I just love the mix between the acid of limes together with the fish and the spice of the chilis. For me, ceviche is one of the best and refreshing dishes in the whole world.
Ceviche is a well-known dish in Latin America, where fish is marinated in lemon juice and includes onion, garlic chili, and cilantro. Each country has its own variations, more important, you can make your own vegan variation with this classic recipe.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, but before I tell you how to prepare the typical Peruvian Ceviche recipe, let’s take a look at the origins of the ceviche.
What is the origin of the Ceviche Recipe?
Some historic sources claim ceviche was originated in today’s current northern Peru nearly 2000 years ago by the Moche civilization. Other investigations show that through the Inca Empire, the Incas use to marinated fish with chicha, the Andean fermented drink, or the also marinated with fruit juices salt and chili peppers. The actual version of ceviche where the fish is marinated in lime juice, came probably after the Spanish calorizators brought limes to the continent. Nevertheless, ceviche was born with the need to preserve the fish. Today this an amazing dish that I love to prepare, which has expanded through Latin America.
What are the Ceviche recipe Variations you can prepare?
There are many ceviche variations, and if you are looking for a vegan recipe you can use champignon, or palm hearts instead of fish. Not to mention, you can add some seafood to your normal ceviche.
Of course, every Latin American country has its own variations, for example in Ecuador, ceviche is prepared with tomato sauce. In Chile, the fish is marinated in lime and grapefruit juices together with garlic, mint, cilantro, and red chili peppers. In Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, ceviche is made with coconut milk. Nevertheless, today we are making the classic Peruvian Ceviche recipe.
Is the fish for Ceviche previously cook?
No, the ceviche is fresh fish cut in chunks marinated in lemon juice, the acid from the lemons denatures the proteins in the fish, therefore it is important that you choose a very fresh fish, and be smart about where you pick your fish.
How many hours I should left the ceviche marinated?
Normally, I left the ceviche marinated for at least 4 to 5 hours (I honestly cannot wait longer than that) But you can eat it within 24 to 48 hours MAX.
What are the best Fish for Ceviche?
The perfect fish should smell briny and not fishy and should be firm to the touch. One of the best fishes for ceviche are snapper, sea bass, halibut, mahi-mahi, fluke, flounder, red snapper, halibut. You can also include in your ceviche, some shrimps, squids, scallops or octopus, important is that you cook the shellfish before you add them to the ceviche (cook in boiling water with salt for a few minutes and then put them ice water to cool them down)
What Is Peruvian Food Like?
Peru has been one of the hearts of commerce in South America for thousands of years. Its unique landscape and collection of micro-climates have forced its ancient societies to adapt and innovate in order to keep its populations fed. This agricultural engineering is on display in many places across the country including the terraced fields of Maras in the Sacred Valley.
But if you&rsquore wondering &lsquowhat is Peruvian food like?&rsquo Well, the answer can be complicated. And it&rsquos mostly based on where in Peru you are. Peruvian cuisine can most easily be sectioned into three areas. Food from seaside towns in Peru such as the capital of Lima, food from the mountain regions such as Cusco, the capital of the Incan empire, and food from the Peruvian Amazon region.
No matter where you visit in Peru, there are a few staples that you&rsquoll find on the menu. Potatoes, obviously come straight to mind, and with over 4,000 varieties across the country, it&rsquos no surprise why. Corn is also common. Not just steamed and buttered either. Corn is used in making many of the wraps, tortillas, and shells that you&rsquoll find throughout Peru.
But one interesting adaptation in Peruvian cuisine over the past two centuries has been the influx of Asian influence. This has led to one of my favorite types of Peruvian foods, Chifa cuisine. This blend of Chinese and Peruvian influences can be found in most cities from Lima to Puno, and it should be on your list of things to try when you&rsquore in the country.
There is also a popular food in Peru that many visitors might not expect. Cuy, is something that you&rsquoll either want to try, or want to stay away from. It really depends on how you feel about Guinea Pigs. These cute fluffy creatures have been a gourmet dish in many countries in western South America. And when you explore the countless Incan ruins scattered throughout Peru, you&rsquoll almost always find a narrow room with holes placed near the ground. This is where Guinea Pigs were raised for millennia.
Peruvian Ceviche (The National Dish of Peru)
Peruvian ceviche is one of my all time favorites and the national dish of Peru. It is different, as it is typically served on lettuce leaves with sweet potatoes and crunchy toasted corn kernels. Of course it is flavored with aji chilies which are famous in Peru. I made this one with sea bass but any firm white fish like sole, flounder, shark and even shrimp will work beautifully and still be authentic. Like all ceviche’s the fish is “cooked” with the acid from the citrus.
In Peru, there are little shops and carts all over the coastal area called cevicherias where you can get your Peruvian ceviche fix .The Peruvians take their ceviche so seriously there is actually a national holiday for their beloved ceviche. June 28th of each year has been deemed National Ceviche Day. They also serve the citrusy marinade in a separate shot glass usually before the ceviche comes out, and it is called leche de tigre or tiger’s milk. This invigorating potion is also known to be a hangover cure and aphrodisiac. This recipe is easy and scrumptious.
If you would like to make this recipe Plant Paradox compliant simply eliminate the toasted corn kernels (which you could substitute toasted sorghum) and make sure to use peeled and seeded aji chilies or eliminate if not in phase 3.
Did you know that Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn? When you go to the markets in Peru, you will find corn in every size and color imaginable. Many restaurants and bars serve their famous giant roasted kernels when you first sit down to enjoy until your order arrives. If you would like other authentic Peruvian recipes and learn more about this amazing country, make sure to check out “Our Journey to Peru.”
Craving even more? Be sure to join the culinary and cultural journey around the world so you don’t miss a thing, it’s free, You can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook , Pinterest and youtube to follow along our journey.
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Tequila to Accompany the Best Ceviche Recipe
Of course you need some tequila to accompany your ceviche. The Aztecs originally made Tequila from the blue agave plant which grows wild in Mexico. Therefore it is Mexico’s national drink.
There are several different types of Tequila. For example, Blanco or Plata tequila is not aged and have a more harsh and pure agave flavor. They are often used in mixed drinks such as margaritas. Gold tequilas are basically Blanco tequilas with caramel coloring and are used in the same way.
While light tequilas are mainly used in cocktails, aged tequila is often sipped or drank as a shot. For instance, Reposado is aged in oak barrels from 2 months to a year and exude traces of honey and vanilla. People often sip these or add them to margaritas. Similarly, Anejo means aged. These tequilas are aged in wood barrels between 1 and 5 years. On the other hand, Mezcal can be made from a mixture of agave plants not just the blue agave so it is not a true tequila. It often has a smokier flavor. Mezcal is usually known for containing a worm which is actually the larva of an insect which lives in the agave plant. Of course Mezcal supposedly brings good luck to those that swallow it.
How to Make Tiradito (Peruvian Ceviche)
One of the many joys of Peruvian cuisine is the beautiful way in which it has melded with the foods of immigrants. Nikkei cooking, for example, is Japanese-Peruvian food, the result of a 19-century influx of Japanese migrants to Peru. Peruvian food has influenced the way Japanese food is cooked there, and Japanese food has changed how Peruvians cook. The results are damn delicious.
One fun example is tiradito, which combines elements of ceviche and sashimi in a single dish. Ceviche typically involves "cooking" raw fish in an acidic marinade. One doesn't make ceviche and serve it right away it's better to wait about 15 minutes until the fish has turned more opaque, and the exterior of each small piece has taken on a partially cooked consistency.
Compare that to Japanese sashimi. While some species like mackerel are cured or seared, many are served completely raw—no heat, no acid, no lengthy salt-curing process. And unlike ceviche's smaller chunks of fish, sashimi is often cut into larger rectangular slices. When served, it's adorned minimally, with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger on the side.
Tiradito marries the two traditions. Like sashimi, the fish is cut into large slices and spends no time curing before being served. But like ceviche, it's served with a tart, spicy citrus-chili marinade known as leche de tigre (tiger's milk . . . you know, because it's got enough attitude to make you go RAWR).
Some tiradito recipes call for infusing the leche de tigre with pieces of fish and then straining them out and discarding them. This brings it closer to the sauce that comes with a ceviche, in which fish juices have mingled with the marinade. I did not do this for my tiradito recipe, though, since it requires sacrificing some of your (likely pricey) fish to the marinade for what amounts to a nice, but nonessential, step. If you want to do this, though, you can just soak some fish pieces in the lime juice for 15 or 20 minutes before straining them out and continuing with the recipe (you can, of course, eat those fish pieces in the kitchen, so that they're not totally wasted). If you're working with a whole fish and filleting it yourself, this infusion step becomes much easier since you'll definitely have scraps.
Tiradito sauces come in many flavors, but the most classic features lime juice and a purée made from Peruvian ají amarillo peppers, which have an incredible floral aroma and a decently spicy kick. It varies from pepper to pepper, but it tends to be hotter than your average jalapeño but not nearly as hot as a habanero.
There are a couple ways to get ají amarillo paste in locales where the fresh peppers aren't available. Easiest is to buy a jar of the purée at a market that sells Peruvian ingredients. Better is to make it yourself from frozen whole ají amarillo peppers. The from-frozen stuff has a more complex flavor that captures more of the pepper's natural floral and fruity notes the jarred option is good, but some of ají amarillo's charms are snuffed out in the canning process. Making your own with frozen peppers is as easy as boiling the peppers for 10 minutes, removing their stems and seeds (and, if you want to be more finicky about it, their skins, too), and then liquifying the flesh in a blender with just enough water to get it moving.
Beyond that, the leche de tigre for tiradito goes like this: Blend fresh lime juice with garlic and some fresh ginger, mix in enough of the ají amarillo paste to give the sauce a punch of chili heat and enough viscosity that it doesn't just flow like water on the plate. Some freshly minced cilantro can go in at the end.
In Peru, the fish is typically white-fleshed, something along the lines of corvina or fluke. Pictured here, though, are salmon and yellowtail (hamachi in Japanese), which are common substitutes, at least here in North America. The important thing is to get fish that you can serve as sashimi your selection will depend heavily on where you live.
On the side, you might add some choclo (a type of large, white Peruvian corn) or some thick rounds of cooked sweet potato, both of which are traditional tiradito accompaniments. Neither is necessary, though: Tiradito is, at its heart, a dish open to interpretation. It was born of cultures colliding and being flexible enough to embrace each other. Setting its presentation in stone cuts against that spirit.
Ingredients for Peruvian Ceviche
- 1 ½ pounds very fresh and high-quality fish filets (corvina, halibut, escolar, hamachi, mahi-mahi, flounder).
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced.
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice from about 15-20 Peruvian limes.
- 1-2 hot peppers (aji Limo is the traditional pepper used in Peru), cut in half, without seeds and deveined.
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh cilantro.
- salt to taste.
- Pepper to taste.
Now let’s take a look at how to put it together.
Step 1: First cut the fish into small cubes, place in a glass bowl and cover with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the onions and juice the limes.
Step 2: Up next, rub the thin onion slices with 1/2 tablespoon of salt and rinse in cold water and rinse the fish to remove the salt. Next up place the cubes of fish, half of the sliced onions, and hot peppers in a glass bowl and pour the lime juice over the ingredients. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
Step 3: Cover and refrigerate for about 5-15 minutes, remove the cilantro sprigs and the hot peppers from the mix (If you like spicy food then leave the peppers in).
Stage 4: Taste the fish ceviche and add additional salt if needed. Serve immediately with your choice of sides and garnishes.
There you have it, a quick and simple way to make a Peruvian classic.
Be sure to try it out and taste for yourself. If you want to know anything more about Peru, Cusco and Machu Picchu Travel or its Cuisine, check out the rest of our blog posts at Peru Travel Blog and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for our special packages.
If you wish to include a Peruvian ceviche tasting in any of our Peru tour packages please let us know and we can make that happen. We received dozens of culinary travel groups every year and put together a personalized itinerary to visit some of the best ceviche restaurants in Lima.
Today I will be sharing with you my recipe of Ceviche, Peruvian Ceviche is one of the most simple and delicious Ceviches on Latin America, it is also one of the most famous dishes of the Peruvian gastronomy.
If you visited Peru, you probably have tried our Ceviche. Peru is one of the best gastronomic destinations the world has. It has so many dishes, that a person like me can actually start a blog writing recipes about Peru.
Ceviche is a dish that is prepared all over the country, and every region makes it, it’s own way. There are not two Ceviches alike, which I find really amazing.
What is the heck is Ceviche?
Ceviche consists of “raw fish” marinated in an acid element (it could be lime, lemon, vinegar, etc), served cold and with a variety of sour, salty, tart, and sweet elements.
Yes, this dish is really similar to sashimi, in “Paper”, it’s served cold, serve with an acid element. it’s meant to be eaten right away and it is made with fresh ingredients, (fresh fish always)
What are the “key ingredients”?
In my opinion, a Ceviche is composed of:
That is it, everything else is complementary elements to a Ceviche that makes them unique.
What is “Leche de Tigre”?
Leche de Tigre o Tiger’s milk, is a marinate created to enhance the flavor of the Ceviche, the “acid element” is turned into something more complex, with a lot of flavors, and we end with a Ceviche that it has not only flavor but aroma too.
I am going to confess that I am not a big fan of Ceviche, probably that is why I haven’t prepared it as much as I should.
As a kid my mom didn’t cook fish often, and when she did, the house smelled like fish, and most of the fishes she got had bones on it, so my experience with fish was traumatic, choking multiple times with fish bones, all my clothes smelling to fish, and other stuff I just don’t want to remember.
Things changed with time, I learned to cook and eat fish, and now I am sharing a ceviche recipe that you can make at home that everyone (including the ones that are not into fish) will love.
How to make "Ceviche Peruano"
There are many different ways of making ceviche in fact, many countries from Latin America have their particular variations. For example, the Ecuadorian ceviche traditionally includes shrimps.
The main elements that we must have clear when cooking it Peruvian style are the necessary ingredients, the fish we must use and how to prepare Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk).
In the following lines, you have a recipe based on the first Peruvian elaboration according to the Peruvian chef Roberto Sihuay.
1. What fish do we use?
One of the first questions we face when preparing this recipe is with what fish is "Ceviche Peruano" made, as it is the main ingredient of this dish. Using one fish or another is one of the essential elements that will contribute the recipe to come out perfect or not.
First of all, we must be clear that the raw material must be of quality. When it comes to choosing the fish we have to keep in mind some quality related recommendations and the freshness of the product so as not to endanger our health.
It's true that this dish is prepared in many different ways in different countries from South America, as we previously said however, the most suitable fish is corvina. This is the classic product used by Peruvians, and the result is always delicious.
Other fish that we can use are sea bass, tuna, salmon and even perch however, corvina has the perfect characteristics so that our recipe is the most similar as possible as the Peruvian original dish.
2. Ingredients (for ceviche and Leche de Tigre)
For a ceviche recipe for two people you will need the following ingredients:
160 gr of filet of corvina
The head and the rest of the corvina (for the fish broth)
Lemon drop pepper to your liking (or a substitute)
10 gr of normal or red onion
For the fish seasoning use salt, Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk) elaborated with the previous ingredients and lime juice to your liking. In the final garnish use 50 gr of toasted chulpe corn, 50 gr of choclo (Peruvian corn), 30 gr of sweet potato or manioc, and 40 gr of red onion.
All the ingredients of our ceviche recipe can be replaced by similar products that we can find in the nearest shops for example, the lemon drop peppers can be replaced by chili peppers and both kind of corns we can replace them with classic toasted corn.
Fish waste is the part of the fish that we do not use to eat. In our case, we will use fish waste as a necessary product to make Leche de Tigre.
3. How to cut the fish
Cutting the fish properly is one of the most important steps. The expert Peruvian cooks make this recipe with the back of the corvina, that is the central part of the filet, but in our case, we can use the entire filet if we remove the bones and the dark parts of it.
The correct way to prepare the fish is to cut the corvina in half and remove all the bones and other waste parts from the filet. Then cut each one of the halves successively to end up obtaining cubes of fish of 1 centimeter of thickness approximately. Once we have the dice cut, we will keep them fresh with some crushed ice.
One of the most important recommendations to keep in mind is to cut the fish cleanly. To do this we will need a sharp knife that cuts correctly: Secondly we should not touch or squash the fish too much the less we touch it, the better.
4. Preparation of Leche de Tigre
Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk) is essential for the fish ceviche recipe. This sauce is one of the souls of the traditional dish, and its right preparation will be crucial to obtain a result as similar as possible to the Peruvian original.
The first thing you have to do is prepare a fish broth with the clean head of the corvina. To make this broth, you just need to boil the head with some water in a pan for 30 minutes at low heat.
When you have the fish broth strained and cooled, put it in a container, where you will add the waste of the fish that has been left over previously, the ginger cut in slices, the garlic and the celery, the pepper (or the chili pepper), the branches of cut coriander and the onion. All these ingredients will be crushed well and then strained to obtain Leche de Tigre.
5. Season the dish
Let the ceviche rest with a little ice so that it does not lose its original shape or texture. Add a little salt on top to start the seasoning.
Then carefully stir the fish and add a little pepper, the Leche de Tigre and the lime juice. It is advisable not to squeeze the lime excessively so that the juice is not bitter.
It is important to stir the fish dice without squashing them: corvina is the main ingredient of the dish, and it should have its natural structure until it is served.
Keep tasting the fish to verify that it is well of salt and lime. The final taste of ceviche should be a harmonious mixture between salty, bitter for the lime and spicy for the pepper.
6. Final garnish
For the final garnish, add the toasted or fried chulpe corn and the choclo corn boiled with sugar, lime juice and a bit of aniseed.
To finish, add the sweet potato or manioc, and the onion, which will complement the dish and they will give strength and personality to the whole preparation.
Here you have a video where you can follow how to make "Ceviche peruano."
Sakanari, J. A. McKerrow, J. H. (1989). Anisakiasis. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. American Society for Microbiology. 2 (3): 278–284.
Zapata Acha, S. (2006). Diccionario de gastronomía peruana tradicional (1st ed.). Lima, Perú: Universidad San Martín de Porres.
Essential Peruvian Food: 10 Must-Eat Dishes to Seek Out
My first encounter with comida Peruana was over 20 years ago, thanks to my wife's Peruvian family. Their cooking was a study in juxtaposition: hot and cold, acidic and starchy, robust and delicate. That's because Peruvian food is all about spices and big flavors, some clean and crisp, others deep and heavy. Every sip of a pisco sour tamed the citrus and chile assault of a ceviche, the fish so fresh it almost crunched between my teeth.
When most of us think of Peru, we think of the ancient ruins and high mountain vistas. Those thoughts may be accompanied by a distant pan flute whistling over the Andes, and if we've been primed on the food, the conversation usually starts with the country's mind boggling variety of potatoes.
But culinarily speaking, Peru is the Hope Diamond of Latin America, home to dishes and flavors you won't find anywhere else. While this is hardly a secret—there are more Peruvian restaurants outside Peru than ever before—it's one we don't give enough credit. Few places on earth offer such a variety of indigenous ingredients, let alone a jumble of flavors and techniques from Europe, Africa, and East Asia. Rather than remain culturally segregated, these foreign additions have blended seamlessly with ancient Peruvian cuisine into something utterly unique.
A Peruvian Primer
Peruvian cuisine has only recently exploded onto the international culinary stage, but Peruvians have always been crazy about their nation's culinary heritage, and they steadfastly cling to the traditional, multi-culti flavors of home —pit-roasted feasts and all, even in the face of modern gastronomic innovation. A range of climates, from high altitude to low, offer an impressive diversity of produce. Yes, that means potatoes—over 3800 kinds—but also a variety of corn and other grains, to say nothing of the country's native aji chilies that are often puréed into sauces.
So much of what is now traditional Peruvian cooking was inspired by cultures oceans away. These foreign influences date back to the Spanish conquest of Incan king Atahualpa in the 1500s. Colonists brought European stews, sauces, and baked casseroles. Later, in the 19th century, immigrant workers from Guangdong Province brought their woks and stir fries, and Peruvians today love to eat chifa, a fusion of local ingredients cooked with Chinese recipes and technique. It's Chinese food with Peruvian influences—or maybe the other way around.
Like food everywhere today, there is a new style of Peruvian cuisine emerging—so-called nueva comida—forged by Lima's leading chefs like Gaston Acurio and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. "It's very ingredient-driven," explains New York chef Eric Ramirez of the soon-to-open Llama Inn and formerly of Raymi Peruvian Kitchen and Pisco Bar. "With young chefs digging deep to find more exotic ingredients, the possibilities are endless." So the evolution of the nation's food continues, into territories of modernist cooking that's simultaneously old and new.
But for now, here's a quick tour of just some of the classic edible jewels Peru has to offer. Consider it the checklist for your next trip.
Peru's national dish, and an immediate obsession for nearly all who try it. Though other countries may claim their own variations with shrimp, octopus, scallops, tomatoes, and even tostada chips, Peru started this cold-"cooked" fish craze with only five simple ingredients: sea bass (corvina) marinated for just minutes in lime juice, onion, salt and, of course, hot chiles (aji). The tenderness of super-fresh fish is heightened by crisp onion, and sides of starchy boiled corn (choclo) and creamy sweet potato (camote) to balance out the texture of the dish. Dry-roasted corn kernels (cancha) sprinkled around add a pleasing crunch.
The leftover marinade—known as leche de tigre (tiger's milk)—is a briny, fiery elixir often tossed back from a shot glass or spiked with Pisco, either at the table or the next morning as hair of the dog. (In the latter case it's then referred to as leche de pantera, or panther's milk). Tiradito is a local variation of classic ceviche with a Japanese sushi-style twist of slicing the fish into thin strips, then adding puréed aji amarillo, soy sauce, and mirin to the marinade.
Lomo Saltado (Stir Fried Beef)
Almost as popular as ceviche, this chifa dish represents a fusion of Chinese stir frying and classic Peruvian ingredients. Juicy strips of soy-marinated beef (or alpaca), onions, tomatoes, aji chilies, and other spices are stir-fried until the beef is just cooked and the tomatoes and onions start to form a robust, meaty gravy. It's then served with two starches, a happy mix of East and West: a mound of rice and french fries (often tossed with the meat). The crowd-pleasing dish is found nearly everywhere across Peru, and is equally popular in Peruvian restaurants abroad.
Aji de Gallina (Creamy Chicken)
Shredded chicken bathes in a thick sauce made with cream, ground walnuts, cheese, and aji amarillo. The sauce is mild but piquent, the aji's fruity, moderately hot bite softened by the nutty, creamy sauce to a comfortable warmth. The dish reflects Peru's love of sauces thickened with chilies, cheese, cream, or even bread, drenched over and often cooked with meats and vegetables. Here the sauce is mixed with the poultry and served over rice with boiled potatoes and black olives, making for a rich, bright yellow chowder that glistens on the plates of restaurants and households throughout Peru.
Papas a la Huancaina (Potatoes in Spicy Cheese Sauce)
In another instance of "meat or starch covered in creamy sauce," sliced yellow potatoes are drenched in a purée of queso fresco, aji amarillo, garlic, evaporated milk, lime juice and—you guessed it—saltine crackers. It's not a looker: a yellow sauce over yellow potatoes topped with yellow-yolked hard boiled eggs. But don't be deceived this homely sauce packs a complex, slow-building burn, at once brightened by the queso fresco, lime, and salty cracker, and tamed by the earthy potato and cooling egg.
Usually served as a side dish to a meal, it's also a common appetiser, with tiny round purple potatoes boiled whole, enveloped by sauce and garnished with olives, eggs, and, yes, more crackers. Originating in the mountainous city of Huancayo, it's now an almost everyday staple throughout Peru.
Cuy (Guinea Pig)
One of the Andean region's most popular sources of meat (the other being alpaca), this guinea-pig-as-food strikes fear in the hearts of Westerners who think of it more as a pet than a meal. But consider tender, smoky dark meat (almost like poultry!) beneath a glistening golden veneer of shatteringly crisp skin, and you can begin to grasp the appeal. Or think of it as a single-serving suckling pig.
The traditional recipe calls for stuffing the whole animal with local herbs, then roasting it over an open wood fire and serving it with potatoes. When served this way it tastes best with a dip of aji sauce and eaten by hand like fried chicken. But more refined restaurant-ready recipes, which may involve deep-frying or braising, are now regularly enjoyed from Cusco all the way to Lima.
Causa (Potato Casserole)
This ubiquitous Quechan dish has taken on countless European-style variations, often served as a cake roll, terrine, casserole, or in colorful individual servings. Whatever the presentation, it starts with meaty mashed yellow Peruvian potatoes blended with lime, oil and spicy aji amarillo sauce. Shredded tuna, salmon, or chicken are mixed with mayo, followed by layers of avocado, hardboiled eggs, and olives. That surface is topped again with more potato mix, and so on, making as many lasagna-like layers as one dares. This bright, barely-spicy dish is served cold as a salad course or side dish.
Rocoto Relleno (Stuffed Spicy Peppers)
Red aji rocoto chilies are stuffed with a cooked mix of ground beef, onions, garlic, olives, raisins, herbs, and spices, then topped with queso fresco and baked in an egg-and-milk sauce. Fair warning: despite its scarlet good looks, this dish is not the stuffed bell pepper you're used to—the rocoto is a little larger than a plum with a bright, fruity, tropical berry essence and almost twice the heat of an aji amarillo (or in gringo terms, about ten times hotter than an average jalapeño). So that first bite will wake you up. But the chili's initial burn is quickly tempered by the sweet and savory filling inside, and the melted queso fresco and eggy cream sauce in which it all cooks.
The rocoto chili originated in the southern region of Arequipa, and while it's now ubiquitous throughout the country, it's still hard to find beyond Peru's borders, which makes rocoto relleno a dish that homesick Peruvians pine for when abroad.
Anticuchos de Corazón (Grilled Heart)
Don't let "heart" put you off. The heart is a muscle, after all, leaner than filet mignon, bolder in flavor than a ribeye, and delicious when licked by open flames. Typically cut into one-to-two-inch cubes, the crimson heart (alpaca or beef) is marinated in vinegar, cumin, ají, and garlic and grilled over charcoal to a medium rare with slightly singed edges.
Those cubes are often served on skewers with sliced onion or potato, and drizzled with lime, which makes them popular appetizers and even more popular street food throughout the country. Today, cooks make anticuchos out of any cut of beef, and even chicken, but nothing beats the original cardiovascular version.
Arroz con Pato (Rice With Duck)
This seemingly simple Spanish Criollo recipe is a signature dish in Peru. Rice is cooked in cilantro paste, herbs, and dark beer, giving a deep, earthy flavor to the vegetal grain. A roasted thigh and leg or—if lucky—crisp-seared duck confit is added on top of a mound of the green rice. The dish is so popular, it's found on nearly every Peruvian family table as well as at the finest restaurants in Lima, and like much of Peruvian cooking, it's been adapted into countless variations of rice mixture, texture and duck parts—and even with chicken or other poultry.
Pollo a la Brasa (Roasted Chicken)
Perhaps the most well-known Peruvian food in the US due to the many take-out Peruvian chicken rotisserie joints around (see our roundup of DC's best). A whole chicken is marinated in a powerful combination of garlic, herbs, and spices before roasting on a spit, giving the bronzed, crispy skin an addictively exotic and earthy taste. Perhaps even more beloved than the chicken itself is the green huacatay (Peruvian black mint) sauce served next to it: every chicken comes with it, though the recipe often varies and is a closely-guarded secret. For some it's a creamy melange of the mint with cilantro, garlic and chili in a mayo base that Peruvians (and everyone else) goes crazy for. If you can't make it to Peru, this is definitely a classic worth making on your own.