Peruvian cuisine is amongst the most varied in the world. Peruvian geography offers at least 8 different climates making it the perfect place to harvest and grow many different fruits and vegetables. Similar to that of other cultures, most Peruvian dishes are a very rich combination of several different cultures including Spanish, Italian & Chinese but they never forget to incorporate their traditional ingredients. Most dishes include rice or potatoes combined with different types of proteins like lamb, alpaca, Llama, chicken, fish or pork.
Typical foods we tried over 2 weeks in Peru!
Pisco Sour – Peru’s national drink made from Peruvian Pisco as the base liquor, lemon juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters. There are a variety of different flavors but our favourite was the passionfruit.
Inca Cola – A bright yellow version of the classic & very healthy creaming soda. They sell it everywhere and everyone drinks it!
Chicha Morado – Typical Peruvian non-alcoholic drink. It’s prepared from a base of purple maize, known as maiz morado. It can be bought as a bottled beverage in every supermarket or at many street stalls. The purple maize is boiled with chunks of pineapple, quinces, cinnamon and cloves in water until the maize is soft and the liquid has taken on the deep purple color. Although sweet, this wasn’t one of our favorite drinks.
Lomo Saltado – Lomo Saltado is one of the most common dishes. It is made up of sliced beef (or alpaca as seen below), stir-fried with red onions, tomatoes, yellow Peruvian chilies (aji amarillo), soy sauce, vinegar and cilantro and mixed with french fries or fried potatoes. Below is the dish made by us in cooking class! Ooo snap! 10/10 for presentation wouldn’t you think?
Rocoto Relleno – Stuffed roasted red peppers filled with meats, spices, vegetables and raisins. These are very popular in Arequipa. Really tasty!
Cuy (Guinea Pig) – Hmm.. It took us to the very last day in Peru to give this a try. Although it tasted similar to pork, mind over matter didn’t work as well here and it wasn’t a very enjoyable meal, especially when they serve it flattened out like that.
Alpaca – Depending on where you try Alpaca, will dictate if it’s yummy or not. We had it a couple of times (tastes like beef) and it was the best when we cooked it ourselves during our cooking class as they provided the best cuts. Alpaca comes on pizzas, burgers, stir fry or just by itself. Mind over matter here!
Ceviche – Ceviche for days in Peru! Ceviche is typically made from fresh raw fish cooked by citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and then spiced with ají or chili peppers. We were fortunate enough to make a dish of ceviche during our cooking class and considering I’ve never been one to eat fish this way, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! There’s a first for everything 🙂
Picarones served with chancaca – Almost like a donut, but made from fried yams dough and served with a very sweet syrup on top… you can see by the facial expressions that this was very interesting!
Churros stuffed with Caramel – Not originally from Peru, but we were very excited to see this delicious creation stuffed with caramel sauce.
Arroz con Leche – Rice with sweetened condensed milk. Although a classic dish from around the world, in Peru it is commonly eaten with mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding).
Panettone – A very sweet bread loaf containing candied orange, citron, and lemon zest, as well as raisins, which are added dry and not soaked. Open the bag and you are smacked in the face with sugar! Jacob bought a 1kg bag for himself for Christmas. Mmmm.
Potatoes & Corn
Peru is well known it archeological ruins, ancient cultures, varying landscapes but it is also famous for growing the most varieties of potatoes. It was unbelievable how many potatoes were served with almost every dish in Peru. There are over 4000 types grown between Peru. They come in all different colors, shapes, textures, tastes and purposes!
I actually don’t think we had a Peruvian dish that didn’t come with a potato. The weirdest dishes we had involving potatoes was a chicken salad with french fries mixed in (still healthy?) and the most confusing was spaghetti bolognese with french fries mixed through!? The most fancy potato dish was cooked by our chef along the Inca trail, known as the Causa, a potato rolled like sushi stuffed with avocado and cheese!
Corn is also very popular in Peru and there were way more types than we ever thought, all tasting so different. Sweet corn, as we are used too wasn’t as prominent as the Cancha (below) or the Choclo. The Cancha corn is often used as a snack or a garnish on dishes. They are dried kernels and are tossed with oil and garlic and toasted in a hot pan until they are browned and puffed. The Choclo corn is much larger, chewier, lighter coloured and has a starchy texture rather than a sweet taste.
After hearing so much about Peruvian food we thought it would be cool to tackle a cooking class in Arequipa. Neither of us are master chefs by any means but after the class we sure felt like it.
We contacted Arthur, who is the head chef and owner of Arthur Restaurant. He runs daily cooking classes and market tours through Peruvian Flavor. The cooking class cost just $30 which included the lesson, all the ingredients, 2x full meals each and a pisco sour cocktail. Arthur was kind enough to fit us in for a last minute private class and it was so worth it.
Whilst we cooked, we learnt of his background, his favorite and least favorite dishes to cook, and really enjoyed being in the kitchen.
As seen above, we cooked 2 of Peru’s “signature” dishes, Lomo Saltado and fresh ceviche. The meat of the Alpaca was so tender and flavorful and the ceviche was extremely fresh.
Celebrating Jacob’s Birthday
Jacob loves to eat everything (except tuna!) so it was a real treat to splurge on a meal for his birthday in Cusco, Peru. His favorite things being meat and seafood so when I was trying to organize a restaurant for his birthday and Uchu popped up, I knew that was it. Uchu is a Peruvian Steakhouse located near by the Plaza de Armas. The menu had his name written all over it. His face lit up when he saw the menu and it was hard for him to choose what to get. Success? I think so!
- Starter – Grilled fresh shrimp with key lime, basil, spinach, garlic, Andean cheese, melted Parmesan, onions and caramelized tomatoes… Oh my heavens.
- Main – A large selection of three 4 oz’s servings of prawns, lamb & beef with a side salad, 4 sauces and peanut chilli mashed potato. Talk about variety!
- Surprise Dessert – Explosive chocolate muffin with truffles and chocolate mousse (as seen in the above birthday photo)
We left so content and we had one happy birthday boy! Happy Birthday JC!
Guys, Peru’s food rocks, if you don’t want to visit Peru to hike Machu Picchu, at least come for the food 🙂
Married days survived: 295