It was my first time to Peru and I’d heard a lot about the food and drink before I went. Peruvian cuisine has become quite trendy lately, with new restaurants opening in London within recent years. With this in mind, we decided to do a cookery class while in Lima.
We started with a visit to the local market where there was a huge selection of fruit and vegetables, some of which I’d never seen before:
- Chirimoya - a large, green, knobbly fruit with the texture of a banana and a very delicate flavour.
- Granadilla - similar to a passion fruit but much sweeter.
- Tuna fruit (or prickly pear) - a member of the cactus family, with a slightly bitter taste and very hard, tough seeds.
- Finger avocados - about the size of a large thumb and so creamy and smooth.
Peru grows some of the best varieties of corn, all different colours and sizes, plus over 3000 types of potato.
Our trip continued to the Sky Kitchen to learn more about the country’s famous dishes. We made causa, an unusual starter of cold mashed potato layered with avocado and chicken mayonnaise, followed by ceviche, which can be found in most restaurants. It’s a fresh dish of raw fish simply cooked in lime juice and livened up with chilli and salt. Along the coast ceviche will be made with any white fish, however, further inland trout is used.
We then made lomo saltado, which translates as “loin jump-in”, and refers to the flash-frying of the beef loin; this dish is delicious and extremely popular with Peruvians. It comprises strips of beef, onions and tomatoes cooked in a sauce of red wine, white wine vinegar and soy sauce, served with chips and rice and occasionally a quails egg. To finish we made picarones, a type of deep-fried doughnut made from sweet potato and squash, served with a spiced caramel – yummy!
So what else might you expect to see on a menu in Peru? Alpaca is commonly found the further inland you go; I enjoyed alpaca steak (similar to beef) with a red wine jus and, separately, alpaca carpaccio.
While driving through the Sacred Valley we passed a small town where cuy is a local delicacy – guinea pig. Cooked on a stick over a barbeque, the skin had bubbled up giving the impression it was going to be some of the best crackling ever. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case and more resembled the consistency of an old boot! Apparently, it’s better when served in a restaurant with a sauce, so perhaps I’ll try it again next time I go.
Peru has a huge population of Chinese descendants and so many dishes have a slight Asian twist (the soy sauce in lomo saltado for example). We went to an incredible restaurant in Cusco called ‘Kion’, where a selection of Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian fusion) dishes were shared amongst the group.
All-in-all I loved the food! I was surprised at how refined it was and how fresh and varied the flavours are.
If you want to find out more, or are thinking about arranging your own Peruvian foodie adventure, call us now on 01252 883 184.