Peruvian cuisine is a vibrant and exciting culinary tradition with roots dating back thousands of years to pre-Columbian culture. This rich history is reflected in the diverse array of dishes that make up the nation's cuisine, from hearty Andean mountain stews to fresh and zesty seafood dishes from the coastal regions. In this article, we'll take a closer look at 10 of the most delicious and iconic dishes that Peru has to offer. So, let's dive in and indulge!
Peruvian food is the result of the intersection of various cultural traditions, from the indigenous peoples who first settled the country to the Spanish colonizers who arrived in the 16th century. Over time, this blend of influences has given rise to a unique and diverse cuisine that draws from a variety of distinct regional flavors and cooking techniques.
When it comes to cooking a delicious Peruvian feast, having the right ingredients on hand is crucial. Some key elements you'll need to create authentic Peruvian dishes include:
Ceviche is perhaps the most universally recognized Peruvian dish, and for good reason. This raw fish salad is typically made with pieces of fresh white fish or shrimp marinated in lime juice, cilantro, chilies, and red onion. The acidity of the lime juice "cooks" the fish, infusing it with bright and zesty flavors, creating a chewy yet tender texture that's refreshingly satisfying on a hot day.
Ceviche can be found throughout Peru, from humble roadside stalls to high-end restaurants in Lima. While each chef adds their own twist to this classic dish, the key to crafting excellent ceviche lies in using the freshest, highest quality fish and seafood available and balancing the flavors of the marinade with just the right amount of salt and heat.
Originating from the bustling streets and markets of Lima, lomo saltado is a hearty and flavorful stir-fry that blends classic Peruvian ingredients like aji amarillo, cumin, and red onion with Chinese seasonings like soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar.
To make lomo saltado, thin slices of sirloin are first marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, red wine vinegar, garlic, and spices, then sautéed with tomatoes, onions, and strips of French fries. A sprinkle of fresh cilantro at the end helps balance the rich and savory flavors of this popular Peruvian dish.
Ají de gallina is a hearty, creamy, spicy stew bursting with flavor. This dish is traditionally made by slow-cooking shredded chicken in a sauce made from bread, milk, cheese, and aji amarillo paste, giving it its characteristic bright yellow color and slightly sweet taste.
Ají de gallina is usually served with a side of boiled potatoes and, if you're feeling adventurous, one or two hard-boiled eggs. It's a comforting and satisfying dish that's sure to warm your stomach on a chilly night.
If you're a fan of grilled meats, you won't want to miss out on anticuchos, a popular Peruvian street food featuring marinated beef heart skewers grilled over an open flame.
While the idea of eating beef heart might sound a bit unusual to some, this organ meat is quite lean and flavorful, with a firm yet slightly chewy texture. The marinade used to flavor the anticuchos typically includes a combination of red wine vinegar, cumin, garlic, and ají panca, giving the dish a smoky and slightly tangy flavor profile.
Papas a la huancaína is a classic Peruvian appetizer featuring sliced boiled potatoes topped with a creamy and spicy cheese sauce. The sauce is usually made with fresh cheese (a soft and crumbly white cheese), aji amarillo, garlic, and evaporated milk or cream, all combined to create a rich and indulgent flavor that's sure to please.
Papas a la huancaína is often served as an appetizer or side dish in Peruvian restaurants, but it can also be a satisfying main dish when paired with a crisp green salad or some grilled fresh vegetables
Arroz con pollo is a simple and satisfying peruvian dish found throughout Latin America, but it takes on a unique twist in the hands of Peruvian cooks. This version of the classic chicken and rice dish features succulent pieces of chicken sautéed with onions, garlic, and aji amarillo, then slow-cooked with rice, peas, carrots, and a blend of spices until tender, fragrant, and full of flavor.
Arroz con pollo is a comforting and delicious meal that's perfect for a cozy family dinner or a casual gathering with friends. It's a great dish to prepare in advance, as the flavors only improve over time; just be sure to fluff it up well before serving to distribute the rice and chicken evenly.
Rocoto relleno is a spicy and indulgent dish featuring large peppers stuffed with a flavorful mixture of ground meat, garlic, onion, ají panca, and cheese. The peppers are then baked until tender and the filling is hot and melted, creating a delicious and satisfying meal that's perfect for a chilly night or a special occasion.
While rocoto relleno can be quite hearty on its own, it's usually served alongside a side of white rice or another vegetable dish to complete the meal.
If you're looking for a refreshing and unique beverage to complement your Peruvian dish, look no further than chicha morada, a sweet and tangy drink made from purple corn.
To make chicha morada, you'll first need to simmer purple corn cobs in water along with pineapple, cinnamon, and other spices until the liquid takes on a deep, intense color and develops complex flavors. The resulting drink is sweet, slightly tart, and satisfyingly refreshing, making it the perfect drink to quench your thirst on a hot day.
If you're fortunate enough to be in the Cusco province and are visiting Machu Picchu, a must-stop for its cuisine and natural-historical setting is Ollantaytambo, specifically the Las Qolqas Ecolodge and its standout restaurant, Pututu. Here, you'll have the opportunity to savor traditional Peruvian cuisine.
If you're inspired to try cooking some Peruvian dishes at home, here are some key tips and tricks to keep in mind:
While we've highlighted some of the most iconic peruvian dishes that Peru has to offer, it's worth noting that there is a dazzling array of regional variations and specialties that you can discover on your culinary journey through this fascinating country. For example, the highlands region of Cusco is known for its hearty soups and meat dishes, while the coastal city of Arequipa is famous for its spicy stews and rocoto peppers."