Sonia, Peru Specialist
“Peru is much more than Machu Picchu; Peru has food culture so rich and diverse which I am personally very proud to talk about…”
In recent years, Peruvian cuisine has earned world acknowledgement. And for great reasons – with ingredients so diverse due to Peru’s geography – from the tropical fruits in the jungle, to the unusual varieties of potatoes in the Andes and seafood from the coast. While some flavours have migrated well across to other destinations, the best Peruvian specialties are still found in their home country.
Defining the Peruvian cuisine is a difficult question to answer; a key ingredient in Peruvian food is potatoes. The earliest remains of potato were discovered at archaeological sites as far back as 400 B.C. (Europeans first came in contact with the potato in the 1400s) and were also the main ingredient in the diet of the Incas.
However, potatoes were not the only vegetable in ancient Peru; avocado pits have been discovered buried with mummies dating as far back as 760 B.C. Another native food is the quinoa and the maiz (corn), together with the “aji” (chillies) and herbs such as “huacatay” which are still being use by our people in the mountains.
In 1528, the Spanish conquistadors brought pork, lamb, chicken and plants which were soon incorporated into Peruvian food. With the Spanish came African slaves who also brought their own ingredients along with Chinese and Japanese immigrants who followed later. More recently Italian and French cuisines have played an important part in what is known today as Peruvian cuisine.
There are five well known Peruvian restaurants in London such as Ceviche, Tito’s, Lima, Tierra Peru and Coya where the food is absolutely delicious.
Some of our main Peruvian dishes are Ceviche (raw fish marinated with lime and spices), Lomo Saltado (one of the most popular dishes which is made of sliced beef stir-fried with tomatoes, onions, chilies and coriander), Causa , Aji de Gallina (spicy chicken stew). Peru also has a large variety of amazing fresh sea food.
In a large wok over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the potatoes and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a plate, cover with foil and set aside.
Cut the beef into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok and heat over high. Add the beef saute for 1 minute with the cumin and garlic. Remove the meat from the pan along with the juices as to keep it moist. Add the onion, chilies and tomatoes. Saute for 1 minute.
Return meat to the pan, add the vinegar, soy sauce and coriander. Saute for 1 minute
To serve, divide the meat between 4 serving plates and accompany with the fried potatoes. You can add a portion of rice if you prefer.
So what do Peruvians drink with their food?
Pisco Sours of course! This typical Peruvian cocktail is made with Pisco liquor, sugar syrup, white egg and lime.
I am proud to know that Peru has won the World’s leading culinary destination for second straight year at the World Travel Award held in Doha, Qatar.