Recipe: Simple huancaína sauce

This is the quintessential Peruvian sauce, originally the main ingredient of papa a la huancaína (Huancayo-style potato), but nowadays used as a sauce to serve alongside pretty much anything. I like to serve it with cassava chips, made by boiling frozen cassava and then frying it in butter.

The original recipe has the following ingredients: ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli), queso fresco (Peruvian feta cheese), evaporated milk and soda crackers. I used to sautée the chillies with onion and garlic but this is optional. I now omit the crackers to make it gluten-free and lower carb and use ají amarillo paste because I can’t find fresh ones in Sydney. Also, Australian feta is closer in flavour to its Peruvian cousin than the Greek or Danish varieties.

Simple huancaína sauce
Yield: about 1 cup

Huancaína

Ingredients

  • 200g Australian feta
  • 1/2 cup cooking cream
  • 1 tsp ají amarillo paste

To serve – any or all of the following:

  • boiled potatoes
  • boiled and fried cassava
  • Peruvian corn kernels threaded in toothpics

Directions

  1. Blend all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor to your desired level of chunkiness.
  2. Serve with starchy things to dip in sauce.
Birthday cake

40

Today is my 40th birthday and I decided to mark the occasion by documenting a snapshot of what my life and thoughts look like at the moment.

Thoughts

When I was a kid I didn’t have a clear image of what I wanted to be as an adult. My earliest memories involve pretending to be a drummer and a chef/restaurateur. However, I grew up with the idea that I had follow a traditional academic path and end up in some sort of managerial role.

At this stage, my life is not textbook-perfect: I’ll never have kids, I don’t have a car, I will probably never own a home and can’t see myself as a manager, and that’s all fine. I think it’s more important to do what you want to do instead of what is expected. The first step to wisdom, IMO, is knowing yourself.

Food

Back in 2011 I decided to experiment with the paleo diet (gasp!) and discovered by accident that gluten was triggering some of my health issues (reflux, joint pain and allergic reactions to pork). I continued eating paleo for a few years and then reintroduced some foods such as dairy (mainly cheese, yoghurt and some cream), rice and legumes, all of which work fine for me from a health perspective. A lower carb approach works better for my body composition goals and energy levels.

My diet these days is more akin to Tim Ferriss’ slow carb diet, with some legumes and very few high-starch foods such as rice and potatoes. I have also implemented his advice of 30g of protein within 30-60 minutes of waking up, most days in the form of 3 eggs + baby spinach + kimchi +/- a tablespoon of lentils or homemade mayonnaise.

I do eat gluten-free bread and treats (including beer!) occasionally. I cook the bulk of our food because I believe that’s the best way of ensuring you’re getting quality food in your body. I post most of my lunches on my Instagram page.

The only supplements I take regularly are protein powder (usually whey protein isolate) after lifting and collagen hydrolysate most days to help with tissue repair.

Drinks

My current liquid intake, in order of prevalence, goes like this: water, coffee, tea, red wine, gin & soda. Cider, gluten-free beer and sparkling wine appear here and there but their contribution by volume is negligible.

Exercise

Even though injuries and other circumstances have kept me away from competing, I haven’t stopped weightlifting because I still enjoy the technicality and challenges of the sport. I do not enjoy getting injured but hey, that’s part of the package.

I started doing Krav Maga in November last year, initially to get back to martial arts and use it as conditioning for my lifting. I fell in love with Krav, especially because of its practicality in real life and the philosophy behind it: learn to defend yourself in order to protect others. Very Buddhist IMO.

Right now my routine looks like this:

  • Weightlifting 3x week
  • Krav Maga 3x week
  • Yoga 0-1x week
  • Swimming 0-1x week

I use a foam roller and a lacrosse ball most days to work on tight spots and get chiropractic/physio care and massages when needed.

Last but not least: meditation and sleep

10 years ago I started my Buddhist practice and I have managed to meditate almost every single day. Of course I’m still eons away from enlightenment but I can tell the methods work on everyday life.

Anyone who has ever tried to work late or party with me knows that I’m not a night person. I go to bed early and require 7-8.5 hours of sleep to function properly.

Final thoughts

Here I am at 40, healthier than what I was the first ~26 years of my life. I don’t know what to expect in the next 5-10 years but fingers crossed it won’t be a downhill journey just yet.

Recipe: Ensalada de palmitos y palta (hearts of palm and avocado salad)

I make variations of this salad every time I cook a Peruvian-themed meal. What makes it Peruvian? The avocado, palmitos, botija olives and the fact that is seasoned with lime juice and olive oil. Serve as a side for pretty much anything.

Ensalada de palmitos y palta (hearts of palm and avocado salad)
Yield: 4-6 servings as a side dish

Ensalada de palmitos y palta

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of lettuce, leaves torn
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 3 radishes, sliced
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 palmitos (hearts of palm), sliced
  • 10 black olives (preferably botija)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Prep ingredients and place in a salad bowl.
  2. Season with lime juice, olive oil and salt.

Recipe: Peruvian ceviche

Classic Peruvian ceviche (cebiche or seviche are the proper spellings that nobody uses anymore) consists of 4 ingredients: fish, lime juice, onions and chillies. It is normally served with sweet potato and choclo (Peruvian white corn). Less common accompaniments include potato, yuca (cassava), yuyo (seaweed), rice (!). Cancha is normally served as a snack, although some restaurants serve some as part of the dish. Buen provecho!

Peruvian ceviche
Yield: 5 servings as an entrée

Ceviche

Ingredients

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 500g white fish fillet, such as snapper
  • juice of 5-7 limes
  • red chillies, such as birdseye, sliced (optional)
  • salt, to taste

To serve

  • coriander
  • choclo (Peruvian white corn) or regular corn, cooked
  • sweet potato, cooked

Directions

  1. Finely slice onion and soak in cold water. You can do this step a few hours in advance. When ready to start preparing the fish, drain onions in a colander.
  2. Cube fish, mix with onions and place on a serving platter. Season with salt.
  3. Cover with lime juice. Serve immediately or reserve in the fridge if you like your fish more marinated.
  4. When ready to serve, check the seasoning and garnish with coriander. Serve choclo and sweet potato on the side.
Macro Natural Nut Mix

Product Review: Macro Natural Nut Mix

Woolies has recently launched a snack pack called Macro Natural Nut Mix. The bag contains 5 single-serve packs 5 and costs $3.99, making a convenient and reasonably-priced snack. Sadly, convenience also means extra packaging.

Each pack contains 30g of nuts (almonds, blanched peanuts, walnuts and cashews), which is the recommended serving size in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Note that the nuts are either raw or blanched and unsalted, making them healthier than the roasted and/or flavoured varieties.

Nuts contain healthy fats (mainly monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fatty acids), as well as some protein and fibre. They also contain appreciable amounts of micronutrients such as vitamin E, folate, magnesium, calcium, and selenium. When tolerated, nuts should be consumed regularly in sensible amounts as part of a healthy diet. I prefer to freeze nuts for texture and to help protect the fats from going rancid.

Each serve provides:
Energy: 777kJ
Protein: 6.7g
Fat 16.5g
Saturated 1.7g
Carbohydrate 2.0g
– Sugars 1.6g
Fibre 2.5g

For more information about the health benefits of nuts, visit Nuts For Life.

Recipe: Ají de atún with lupin flakes

Ají de atún is a lesser-known version of the traditional Peruvian chicken stew ají de gallina. It uses canned tuna instead of chicken, which makes it cheaper and easier to prepare. This dish was in semi-regular rotation at my aunties’ so I assumed it was fairly common, but it turns out Alvaro had never heard of it. I haven’t asked where they got the recipe from but I bet it came from the Nicolini cookbook.

Ají de atún is normally made with white sandwich bread and evaporated milk. I could have used gluten-free bread but decided to go one step further and make the dish more nutritious by using lupin flakes instead. I might post a more traditional (but gluten-free) recipe in the future, so keep your eyes peeled. For now, I leave you with the higher protein, higher fibre, lower carb ají de atún.

Ají de atún with lupin flakes
Yield: 3 servings

Ají de atún with lupin flakes

Ingredients

  • 1 (425g) can tuna in springwater or brine
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ají amarillo paste (or other chilli paste)
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp lupin flakes
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • salt to taste
  • parsley, chopped

To serve

  • 1 1/2 boiled eggs
  • 3 black olives (preferably botija)
  • cauliflower rice, rice and/or potatoes
  • parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat up stock until warm and add lupin flakes. Reserve to let flakes absorb stock.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan at medium-low temperature.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají amarillo. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Drain tuna and add to the saucepan, along with hydrated lupin flakes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes add cream and season to taste.
  5. Serve with cauliflower rice, rice and/or potatoes. Garnish with an olive, 1/2 boiled egg and chopped parsley.
Huon Salmon to Go Deli Bites

Product Review: Huon Salmon to Go Deli Bites

Huon, the well-known Tasmanian salmon producer, has launched a new line of ready-to-eat products called Salmon to Go.

Huon Salmon Bites

I bought a bag of Deli Bites, hot smoked natural flavour, which only contains salmon, salt and natural wood smoke. Other hot smoked options are blackened spice, lemon pepper and sweet chilli, and there is also a cold smoked one. The product’s selling point is convenience, as it can be easily added to pastas, salads or pizza, as suggested on the package. The bag contains 250g of salmon, which at $6 is significantly cheaper than other smoked salmon products. In my opinion, this is a clever way of using those bits and pieces that would perhaps otherwise end as food waste.

Huon Salmon Bites

This product is a great source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids:
Protein: 26.3g
Fat 9.4g
– saturated 2.1g
– polyunsaturated 2.5g
   omega-3 1.4g
    EPA 441.8mg
    DHA 639.2mg
   omega-6 1.1g
– monounsaturated 4.3g
– trans 0.1g

Huon Salmon to Go Deli Bites are available in the refrigerated section of major supermarkets.

To learn more about this product visit Huon’s website.

Recipe: Pescado sudado (Peruvian steamed fish)

This is another Peruvian classic dish, very easy to make and very comforting. “Sudar” means to sweat, the name reflects the fact that the fish is cooked by the steam produced by the liquid at the bottom of the pan.

The recipe calls for a couple of Peruvian ingredients (ají panca and chicha de jora), which can be found in a few stores in Sydney (contact me if you’re interested), but can be substituted if needed. While this dish is mainly made with fish only, my mum makes a killer version with fish and scallops, and a friend makes one with mussels.

Pescado sudado (Peruvian steamed fish)
Yield: 4 servings

Sudado de pescado

Ingredients

  • ~800g white fish fillets (I used snapper)
  • 2 tbsp oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ají panca (or other red chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree or passata
  • 2 tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • 2 red onions, thickly sliced
  • 3/4 cup chicha de jora (or white wine or plain kombucha or a combination)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lime, optional

To serve

  • coriander leaves
  • rice (or cauliflower rice)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic, ají panca, tomato puree, plus half of the onion and tomato slices and cook at low-medium heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Add liquid and bring to a simmer.
  3. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and arrange them on top of the sauce ingredients.
  4. Top fish with the rest of onions and tomatoes, cover pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add lime juice if desired, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or cauliflower rice and a side salad.

Recipe: Huevo a la rusa (Russian-style egg salad)

Despite its name, this dish is a Peruvian classic. So much so that I’ve been told it’s called “huevos a la peruana” (Peruvian-style eggs) in Chile. It is basically a spin-off of the traditional Russian Olivier salad, with the addition of eggs and golf sauce. It’s always served as an entrée, usually in “menú” (affordable set menu) eateries.

Huevo a la rusa (Russian-style egg salad)
Yield: 3 servings

Huevo a la rusa

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 cup peas
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup (preferably homemade)
  • lettuce leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Boil or steam the eggs to your liking (I steam mine for 10 minutes). Cool down with tap water. Peel, halve and reserve.
  2. Peel, cube and steam potatoes and carrots.
  3. Blanch or steam peas.
  4. Once vegetables have cooled down, mix them with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
  5. Mix the other tablespoon of mayonnaise with the ketchup.
  6. Arrange lettuce leaves on 3 plates, place vegetable mix on top. Top with one halved egg and the mayo/ketchup sauce.

Review: Sample Coffee (St Peters)

Sample Coffee is a coffee roster with locations in Surry Hills and St Peters. We visited the latter, which is walking distance from where we live. It is located in a newish industrial/commercial complex in the middle of nothingness. The cafe is large, modern and spacious, with simple modern wooden furniture very pleasing to my eye.

Sample Coffee

Regular coffees are made with their Pacemaker blend, which is great, but you can also choose one of the available specials for a few extra cents. My filter coffee from El Salvador was excellent, and I’m enjoying the bag of Pacemaker ($14 for 250g) that I bought for home.

Piccolo latte, filter coffee, almond milk latte

Piccolo latte ($4), large batch filter coffee ($4.20), almond milk latte ($4 + $1 for the milk)

Food-wise, you will find toast (sourdough or gluten-free), porridge, eggs or avo and feta on toast, sandwiches, etc. We tried the

smoked trout and poached egg served on two toasted slices of Nonie’s gluten free charcoal bread, goat’s cheese and ricotta, watercress, fresh herbs and lemon dressing. The bread is incredible, and the whole combo just works.

Smoked trout and poached egg on Nonie's gluten-free charcoal bread

Smoked trout and poached egg ($17)

If you’re after a more substantial meal, there are a couple of bowls on offer that can be ordered as a half bowl ($11) or full bowl ($15). We tried the one with charred broccoli, roasted carrots, white bean, Brussel sprouts, pickled radish, wild rice, vinaigrette and fresh herbs. We ordered it with the recommended side of roast lamb (other options are 12 hour beef brisket, free range ham off the bone, avocado, smoked trout and free-range poached egg). I really enjoyed this dish and agree that lamb was the perfect protein to go along with the flavours. The serving size was decent but not huge, so if you have a healthy appetite the $4 difference between bowl sizes will be totally worth spending.

Charred broccoli bowl with roast lamb

Full bowl broccoli ($15) + roast lamb ($7)

There are also several sweet treats on display, including pastries and giant cookies. The orange cake was the only gluten-free option the day we visited.

Gluten-free orange cake

Gluten-free orange cake ($4)

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 4/5, great coffee, a few daily specials, almond milk available
Food: 4.5/5, great food, Nonie’s gluten-free bread, gluten-free and vegetarian options available
Service: 4/5, service

Sample Coffee St Peters
1.03/75 Mary St
St Peters NSW 2044
(02) 9517 3963
Website
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St Peters Pro Shop & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato