What do you think of if I ask you to name a classic British meal?
Maybe a Sunday roast or fish and chips. The list goes on. But when I
mention Peruvian food what comes to mind? Unless you have been to Peru
or have visited a Peruvian restaurant then you will probably not be too
Peru is abundant with a variety of fresh ingredients all used to
create a unique and diverse cuisine. The three distinct geographical
regions all add different tastes and textures to Peruvian meals. The
coastal region supplies Peru with fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean. The
fertile Andean mountain range is said to be the birthplace of the
potato and many other root vegetables. And the Amazon rainforest in the
east contributes many tropical fruits and delicious herbs.
Combine these ingredients with years of immigration and you get a mix
of flavours and cooking techniques from different cultures used to
create what is now known as Peruvian food- an eclectic mix of fresh
fish, lean meats, tropical fruits and a variety of vegetables.
Here are my top five Peruvian dishes.
- 1) Ceviche. This is a fresh and zesty dish very popular throughout the Americas. There are regional variations, but the core ingredient is raw fish marinated in citrus juices. Peruvians add onion, pepper, garlic and it will often be served with corn on the cob or slices of sweet potato.
- 2) Cuy. Cuy is guinea pig-a traditional South American dish that is eaten on special occasions. Often skewered and barbequed giving it a rabbit like taste. Visitors to Peru either go out of their way to try it, want to try it or avoid it because it could bring back memories of a family pet!
- 3) Alpaca. Alpaca is the smaller cousin of the Llama. The meat is very tender and lean and can be used in many dishes. It is said to be so lean because it lives at altitude that ensures it has highly oxygenated blood. My favourite way to enjoy Alpaca it is as a steak with local vegetables.
- 4) Lomo Saltado. A popular dish with an Asian influence. Slices of steak are flashed fried and are added to peppers, onions, aji chilli, tomatoes and soy sauce to create a hearty and slightly spicy meal. It is usually served with rice and chips.
- 5) Choclo. Very similar to the corn on the cob you would buy in the UK, but the kernels are much larger and the taste is sweeter and fresher. It is often served as a snack smothered with butter or as an accompaniment to a meal.