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.

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.

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.

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.

Recipe: Tallarines verdes (Peruvian pesto pasta)

This is a revised version of the tallarines verdes recipe I posted several years ago. What’s the difference? This recipe is closer to my aunties’ recipe and features gluten-free pasta.

Like tallarines blancos, this dish was in rotation at my aunties’. The difference is that for a long period of time I didn’t like the pesto sauce but loved the white sauce. My uncle was the opposite, so on pasta day only one of us was happy. Obviously, I grew out of my pesto aversion and now love it.

Once again, I didn’t get to ask my auntie Sumi for the original recipe before she passed away. I have tweaked the current family recipe to approximate the taste I remember. My aunties used penne, I used fusilli because I think this shape works better with pesto.

Tallarines verdes (Peruvian pesto pasta)
Yield: 2-3 servings

Tallarines verdes

Ingredients

  • 1 (250g) pack gluten-free pasta, preferably fusilli (I used San Remo pulse pasta)
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup English or baby spinach
  • 75g queso fresco or feta cheese (I used goat’s feta)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to pack instructions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
  2. Process or blend basil, spinach, cheese and parmesan, adding a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to achieved desired thickness. Season to taste.
  3. Return pasta to pot, coat with sauce (heat a bit if needed) and serve with a side salad.

Recipe: Tallarín saltado de pollo criollo (Peruvian stir-fried noodles with chicken)

Let me introduce you to lomo saltado‘s cousin, tallarín saltado. Both dishes came to life thanks to the fusion that happened due to the large influx of Cantonese people in Perú between mid 1800s and early 1900s. They share the same core ingredients: beef, tomato, red onion, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, with the main difference being the starch: rice and potato chips in the case of lomo saltado and noodles in the case of tallarín saltado

Yes, I know I said one of the core ingredients of tallarín saltado is beef, but this recipe has chicken in it. This is a fairly common variant and is the one I grew up eating at the Japanese-Peruvian club we were members of. I also find it easier to make with a conventional stovetop, making good stir-fried beef requires a level of heat that is difficult in most homes.

For this recipe, I used a pack of San Remo pulse pasta that I grabbed at the Gluten Free expo. I will be reviewing the pasta later, so I won’t say much here. You can use any type of long pasta for this dish, e.g. flat rice noodles.

One last thing, the “criollo” bit of the name is to differentiate between this version of the dish and the one you typically find in chifas (Chinese restaurants), which is closer to the stir-fried noodle dish most people are familiar with.

Tallarín saltado de pollo criollo (Peruvian stir-fried noodles with chicken)
Yield: 3 servings

Tallarín saltado de pollo criollo

Ingredients

  • 1 pack gluten-free spaghetti (I used San Remo pulse pasta)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 500g chicken breast or thigh fillet, sliced
  • 1 red onion, cut in thick slices
  • 2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • 6 green onions, cut in 3cm pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1cm piece ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to pack instructions. Drain and reserve.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan at high heat. Add chicken.
  3. When chicken is fully cooked, add red onion and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add tomatoes, green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add pasta and sauces, mix well and serve with a side of vegetables.

Recipe: Pisco sour

This year I decided to put the last bottle of pisco I had in my cupboard to good use and made a round of pisco sour to celebrate with friends. Generally speaking, there are three types of pisco: quebranta (the least aromatic), mosto verde or Italia (the most aromatic) and acholado (a mix of both). Quebranta and acholado are the better ones for making cocktails.

I used the classic ratio of 3:1:1:1 (pisco to egg white, syrup and lime juice), although some prefer a 4:1:1:1 ratio. I made a test run with water and stevia instead of syrup and found it less sweet and quite enjoyable. If you make your own syrup, feel free to adjust the sugar-to-water ratio according to your taste. Final note: when making more than 2 serves, it’s easier to use a blender. Just be mindful to use the minimum amount of ice to cool down the drink without watering it down too much. Salud!

Pisco sour
Yield: 1 serving

Pisco sour

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces pisco quebranta or acholado
  • 1 ounce egg white
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (or 1 ounce of water and stevia to taste)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • a few ice cubes
  • dash of bitters

Directions

  1. Shake pisco, egg white, syrup and lime juice in a shaker, pour and garnish with a dash of bitters.

Recipe: Lupin a la peruana (Peruvian-style lupin)

I get sudden cravings for Peruvian food once in a while. One day I was fixated on pepián, a corn purée spiced with our traditional aderezo of onion, garlic and chilli. Then I remembered I had a bag of lupin flakes in my cupboard and decided to use it as the main ingredient, partially because sweet corn is very different from Peruvian white corn. I used a ají amarillo paste that I found at Fiji Market. It’s got preservatives, so it’s not as good (health- or taste-wise) as fresh or as the paste I’m used to, but it’s better than nothing. If you can’t find ají amarillo paste you can use fresh chillies made into a paste in a blender or food processor with a bit of water or oil.

Lupin a la peruana (Peruvian-style lupin)
Yield: 4 servings

Lupin a la peruana

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup lupin flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • handful coriander leaves, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil or ghee in a pan at low-medium temperature. Cook onion, garlic and chilli for 5-10 minutes, until very soft and translucent.
  2. Add lupin flakes and broth. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Turn off heat, mix in the chopped coriander.
  5. Serve with your choice of protein, rice (to make it more Peruvian!) and plenty of veggies.