Are you ready to discover Peru?
We will explore the wide variety of flavors, spices, and ingredients that make up Peru’s unique culinary identity. We will also look at the distinctive cooking techniques used in the preparation of traditional dishes, as well as the influence of modern international cuisine.
Spanish roots with strong native influences
Peruvian cuisine derives from the Spanish conquerors, who introduced new ingredients and recipes. The Spanish brought beans, corn, potatoes, rice, wheat, and meat, which were combined with the native foods, such as quinoa, yuca, tarwi, chilies, avocados, and tomatoes.
The mix of Spanish and native ingredients has been a part of the culture for centuries, and it has created a unique flavor and a wide variety of dishes.
Typical ingredients used in Peruvian cuisine
- Meat is a big part of Peruvian cuisine. Common meats used in cooking include beef, pork, chicken, guinea pig, lamb, alpaca, and fish. Cuts of beef are often slow-cooked in a stew, while chicken and pork can be grilled or stewed. Fish dishes are usually served with a sauce and a side of rice.
- Vegetables are plentiful in Peru, with potatoes, corn, and yuca being the most common. Many dishes feature fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Avocado, squash, and beans are also popular ingredients.
- Legumes are widely used in Peruvian dishes. Lima beans, kidney beans, and fava beans are common, as are lentils and black-eyed peas. These are often cooked with spices and served with rice.
- Fruits are also used in Peruvian cooking. Common fruits include bananas, oranges, pineapples, and papayas. These can be used to make sweet desserts or served as a side dish.
- Spices and condiments are used to add flavor to dishes. Common spices include cumin, oregano, aji amarillo, garlic, and chili peppers. Condiments such as lime juice, vinegar, and olives are also used to enhance the flavor of dishes.
Peru has adopted many of the typical dishes of Chinese cuisine, and this influence has become an important part of Peruvian gastronomy. The Arroz Chaufa is one of the most popular dishes in the country, and it is a mix of fried rice with vegetables, chicken, pork and egg, with a touch of soy sauce and aji (spicy red pepper).
You may also want to check out this recipe carolinarice.com/recipes/arroz-chaufa/ for this typical Peruvian dish with Chinese roots.
Most popular Peruvian dishes
- Ceviche: This is one of the most famous dishes of Peru. It is made with fresh fish, marinated in lime juice, mixed with onions, chili peppers, salt and cilantro. It is served with sweet potatoes, corn, and lettuce.
- Lomo Saltado: is a delicious and traditional Peruvian dish. It is made with marinated beef strips, stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers. It is served with white rice and French fries.
- Causa: a classic Peruvian dish made with mashed potatoes, which is mixed with spices, lime juice, and chili peppers. It is then stuffed with chicken, tuna, or vegetables. It is served cold and garnished with olives, hard-boiled eggs, and avocado.
There are different types of ceviche. The most traditional is the classic Peruvian ceviche, which is made with white fish, such as sea bass or halibut, marinated in lime juice, chili peppers, and onion. However, there are other types of ceviche, including the Mexican-style ceviche, made with shrimp, tomatoes, and avocado; or the Chilean-style ceviche, made with salmon and a spicy chili pepper sauce.
Preparing ceviche is simple and straightforward. The first step is to marinate the fish in lime juice, which helps to “cook” the fish. After marinating, the fish is combined with the other ingredients and seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices to taste.
Another traditional Peruvian dish that has been around for centuries. It consists of a combination of marinated beef, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and other spices. It is typically served with fries, rice, beans, or potatoes. The preparation of lomo saltado starts by marinating the beef in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, onions, cumin, oregano, and chili pepper for about 1 hour. After that, the beef is then cooked in a hot skillet with the vegetables, creating a flavorful and vibrant dish.
Once the beef and vegetables have been cooked, they are then combined with a sauce made from a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and lime juice. This mixture is then poured over the beef and vegetables and allowed to simmer for a few minutes.
This is one of the most delicious dishes of the Peruvian cuisine. The base is usually a layer of mashed potatoes, seasoned with garlic, onion, and lime juice. After that, layers of seafood, vegetables, and other ingredients are added, such as olives, hard-boiled eggs, and avocados, before being topped with a sauce. Finally, the causa is baked in the oven until it is golden brown.
As with any elaborate meal, the key to making a successful causa is to use the right ingredients.
- Mashed potatoes: it is important to use yellow potatoes, as they are more flavorful and creamy.
- Vegetables: try to use top-quality bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions.
- Seafood: Shrimp and squid are most popular for this dish.
- Sauce: Prepare a mix of mayonnaise and lime juice with some freshly ground black pepper.