Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Peruvian Delights - My Guide to Peruvian Cuisine

Peru's cuisine is a reflection of two empires clashing, an old world of cultures abandoned and a new world of cosmopolitan flavours mixing and creating something new and unique.

peruvian cuisine header

Peruvian cuisine is one of my favourite, so I thought I'd make a post using some pictures from my trip to show everyone else how awesome it is! The most common ingredients used are typically corn, potatoes and chillies. The meats used are reflected by the location of the origin of the dish. For example, dishes originating from the coastal cities are rich in seafood, while the dishes from inland typically use other meats, such as guinea pig (Yes! Guinea pig is a delicacy in Peru!)

These first two dishes are Ceviche, probably the most well known Peruvian dish internationally. Ceviche is white fish that has been marinated in lime and chilli, usually topped with red onions. The first picture shows how Ceviche is typically presented, with potato and corn/toasted corn, two of peru's staple foods. The second picture is a slightly different variation from Iquitos. The white fish has been mixed with oysters (you can see the shell under the onions). Ceviche is usually served as an appetizer, and you will find this dish in any Peruvian restaurant you walk into. 

ceviche
ceviche with oysters

Causa is another mouth watering Peruvian dish. It is made from mashed potatoes stuffed by a variety of ingredients, such as tuna, chicken, olive tapenade, avocado, etc. It is topped by either olives or a hard boiled egg. My Causa is stuffed with avocado and tuna, and topped by a quail egg. The yellow decorative sauce is Huancaina, the most popular sauce in Peru. It is used as a side to a variety of dishes and is thick and creamy with a bite of spice.

causa

Palta Rellena is similar to Causa, except with an avocado instead of potato. The avocado is stuffed with either chicken or fish, and various seasonal vegetables. It is topped by olives. My palta rellena is stuffed with chicken and a few local vegetables.

palta rellena

Rocoto Relleno is another stuffed-type dish, except it uses a large green pepper. The pepper is stuffed with minced meat and cheese. Watch out though, its a little spicy!

rocoto relleno

Chupe de Camarones is a thick creamy soup made from large shrimps. A variety of staple vegetables are inside, such as potato, corn and greens. Sometimes they use lobster if shrimp is not available. The soup is sometimes a little spicy, but complements the ingredients well. I really loved this dish and ate it many times during my trip.

chupe de camarones

Papa Rellena is yet another stuffed dish. The outside is baked potato dough, stuffed with ingredients such as egg, beef, onions and olives. My papa rellena was accompanied with Huancaina below to give it a bit of extra taste.

papa rellena

Cuy chactado, is an Andean dish of fried guinea pig. It is a whole fried adult guinea pig, and certainly not for the weak of heart! My cuy chactado still had a bit of hair left on it, and a full mouth of teeth. But if you're brave enough I recommend this dish to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

cuy chactado guinea pig

Looks like a normal steak right? No, this is an alpaca steak! Alpacas are another Andean animal used as a meat in a variety of dishes. In this dish it was presented like a typical steak with chips and seasoned rice. The taste is very similar to beef, but maybe a bit more rubbery.

alpaca steak

If you remember back to an earlier post, this is a piranha I caught in the Amazon jungle. Piranhas are naturally part of the Amazon cuisine, and are pan fried like a typical fish. The meat was white and very fine. My piranha was a small, but it felt satisfying eating the fruits of my own labour (lol).

piranha

And now for a few peruvian desserts! Below is a lucuma tart. Lucuma is a fruit native to the Andes and is used in many Peruvian desserts, such as ice-cream, sorbets and milk shakes.

lucuma tart

The four desserts below are sample of the desserts you can get in Peru. The far left one is granadilla paste with merengue on top. Granadilla is similar to passionfruit and native to Peru. The second and fourth dessert is Suspiro a la limeña. The bottom layer is dulce de leche, which is similar to caramel, and the top is merengue. The third dessert is tres leches. Tres leches is a thick super sweet sponge cake. All these desserts are famous throughout Peru.

peruvian desserts granadilla suspiro a la limeña dulce de leche tres leches

The last dessert is my personal favourite, Churro Rellenos! I ate numerous of these during my time in Peru. It is similar to a doughnut, and has sweet fillings such as chocolate, evaporated milk, or dulce de leche. My personal favourite is dulce de leche.

churro rellenos

Now for some Peruvian beverages. The absolute most famous drink from Peru is undoubtedly the Pisco Sour. It is a cocktail made from the Pisco liqueur, mixed with lime and egg whites. It is a refreshing cocktail and is drank at the end of a long hard day.

pisco sour

What kind of leaves do these look like to you? These are Coca Leaves. The Coca leaf is native to Peru and Bolivia, and while the leaf itself is relatively harmless, it is the final product that causes controversy. Coca leaf is in fact the leaf used in Cocaine. Coca tea is used to help in altitude sickness because many parts of Peru are so high in the mountains.

coca tea

Peru is a cosmopolitan country, home to many international cuisines such as Italian, Japanese, French and Chinese. As a result, these international dishes have a Peruvian touch to them. The first picture below was just an assortment of seafood cooked Peruvian style, but also had Chinese dim sims that you were supposed to dip in the Peruvian sauces, such as Huancaina. The second picture is a French dish (I forget the name), but it was made using a Peruvian potato that is not exported anywhere in the world, and was cooked using Peruvian spices. The third dish was black Fettuccine, an undoubtedly Italian dish, but was accompanied with seafoods caught right in Lima and cooked in a Peruvian sauce.

mixed appetizer
french potato dish with cheese
black pasta with seafood

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