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.
Estofado de pollo

Recipe: Estofado de pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)

This is one of those dishes that I used to hate as a kid and now I crave when homesickness kicks in. I think the main reason I dreaded it was that my mum or aunties cooked it too often.

I think mum has forgotten my aversion to estofado because she didn’t tease me when I asked for her recipe last time I spoke to her. Turns out that her recipe is simpler than what I imagined, and I managed to make it taste virtually the same. Except that now I like it :)

Estofado de pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)
Yield: 6-7 servings

Estofado de pollo

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1.85kg chicken drumsticks
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.25 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 0.5 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a pot. Season the chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper and brown. Reserve.
  2. Lower the heat, add more ghee or oil if needed and cook the onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes until very soft and translucent.
  3. Add the tomato paste, chicken, chicken broth, carrot and potatoes. Stir, cover and cook until the chicken is done, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and check the seasoning.
  5. Serve with white rice and/or vegetables.

Recipe: Fragrant roasted chicken with cinnamon pumpkin and broccolini

I’ve been using this awesome recipe for roasting chicken for the past few months. It’s simple and fool-proof, and it gives you the flexibility of using any spices you want. I often use a mix of rosemary and sage salts or a mix of rosemary and lemon salts. This time I used a mix of Moroccan spices and paired it up with cinnamon-y pumpkin and broccolini. Delicious!

Fragrant roast chicken

Fragrant roasted chicken with cinnamon pumpkin and broccolini
Yield: 4 servings

Fragrant roast chicken w cinnamon pumpkin and broccolini

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1 chicken (pastured if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Cinnamon pumpkin

  • 1/2 small butternut pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Broccolini

  • 1 bunch broccolini

Directions

Chicken

  1. Mix the spices to season the chicken. Follow Simone’s instructions.

Cinnamon pumpkin

  1. Peel and cube pumpkin.
  2. Place in a baking sheet, season with cinnamon and salt and drizzle with melted coconut oil.
  3. Bake at 180°C for about 40 minutes, until soft.

Broccolini

  1. Steam. Serve with chicken and pumpkin.

Recipe: Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito

Aguadito is a typical Peruvian soup. It means something like “soggy”, not a very appealing name, but it describes the dish perfectly: in essence it’s a watered-down version of arroz con pollo.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons there aren’t too many obese people in Perú is that we tend to eat more home-cooked meals. Parties are no exceptions, and it’s not uncommon that the brave people who stay until the next morning are rewarded with a bowl of aguadito. For the record, I’m lame and tend to bail fairly early from parties, so I’ve never enjoyed a bowl of “morning after” aguadito.

Aguadito is often made with chicken (pollo) or duck (pato). Other popular version has mussels (choros). My favourite is actually a combination of chicken and mussels, because that’s the way my granny used to make it when I was a kid. I’ve been avoiding any attempt to recreate it because I was afraid to fail, but I decided it was time to give it a crack. Even after substituting half of the ingredients (rice, yellow potatoes, corn, and peas) I reckon I nailed it.

Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito
Yield: 6 servings

Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo powder or any other chilli
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 kg chicken wings (or drumsticks/thighs)
  • 600 g frozen mussels
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 small chunk of pumpkin (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small swede or parsnip
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 handful green beans (about 150 g)
  • 1 capsicum
  • 300 g cassava
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Chop onion and garlic. Peel, seed and chop tomatoes. Chop coriander and process with a blender/food processor/immersion blender with enough water to make a runny paste (2 – 4 tablespoons).
  2. Dry chicken wings with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of fat in a big pot (if your pot isn’t big enough, use 2) and brown the wings. Reserve.
  3. Rinse mussels.
  4. Dial down the heat, add another tablespoon of fat and cook onion, garlic, chilli, tomatoes and coriander for 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Add wings, mussels and stock. Bring to a boil and cook at medium heat until the chicken is fully cooked (about 20 minutes).
  6. In the meantime, boil cassava until soft (about 20 minutes), drain and reserve.
  7. Chop the cauliflower florets with a knife. You want small pieces but not as small as the ones you get with a food processor.
  8. Dice pumpkin, parsnip and carrot. Chop green beans in small chunks (about 1 cm long). Slice capsicum.
  9. Add cauliflower, pumpkin, swedes or parsnips, carrots, green beans and capsicum to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, stir and let cook for 15 – 20 minutes.
  10. Add the cassava and serve.

Recipe: Paleo chicken schnitzel and spinach mash

In Perú, chicken schnitzel = milanesa de pollo, which is different from the suprema de pollo because it’s made with a breast fillet instead of a leg/thigh fillet. I’ve always liked the milanesa better. The traditional way of eating it is with rice and chips. I prefer mine with mash, puré de espinaca (spinach mash) to be precise, a regular potato mash mixed with cooked spinach. For this recipe, I made a celeriac version that turned out great.

Paleo chicken schnitzel and spinach mash
Yield: 2 big servings

Paleo chicken schnitzel and spinach mash

Ingredients

Paleo chicken schnitzel:

  • 2 chicken breast fillets
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/8 cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon ghee, butter or coconut oil

Spinach mash:

  • 1 small celeriac, cubed (2.5 – 3 cups)
  • 1 packed cup spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Paleo chicken schnitzel:

  1. Butterfly each chicken breast fillet by laying it flat on a chopping board and slicing it horizontally to “open it like a book”.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place coconut flour in a bowl, egg in another bowl and almond flour in another bowl. Whisk the egg.
  4. Heat fat in a pan.
  5. Coat each chicken piece with coconut flour, shake excess. Dip in egg, and coat in almond flour.
  6. Fry until fully cooked. Use medium heat to keep the outside from burning.

Spinach mash:

  1. Steam cubed celeriac for 10 minutes.
  2. Steam spinach leaves for 1 minute.
  3. Process celeriac and spinach in food processor until smooth.
  4. Place in a pot, add butter, season with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Recipe: Chicken, pineapple and pecans

I was introduced to this combination many, many years ago in the form of a tasty sandwich my mum, sisters and I often ordered at one of our regular cafes back in Lima. I don’t eat bread anymore and, to be honest, don’t crave it, but just out of curiosity I’ve collected a few Paleo bread recipes that I’m slowly testing at home. This time it was the turn of Richard Nikoley’s fat bread, a recipe that sounded very promising to say the least. As described by Richard, this bread raised beautifully and kept its shape even when sliced thin.

Fat bread

Fat bread

Fat bread

That white spot is not mould, but coconut butter that didn’t mix well

Texture-wise it was surprisingly airy. Taste-wise it wasn’t as neutral as Richard describes it, but I didn’t mind the mild coconutty flavour. Testing this bread was the perfect excuse to recreate this sandwich memory from my youth, which is perfect for a summer lunch. If you choose to skip the bread, you can transform it in a delicious salad.

Chicken, pineapple and pecans
Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Pollo, piña y pecanas

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast (a.k.a. double breast)
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (preferrably homemade)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Simmer chicken breast in stock or water until fully cooked. Shred with two forks and let cool. Alternatively, use leftover roasted chicken.
  2. Mix all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve sandwiched between slices of grain- or gluten-free bread, wrapped in lettuce leaves/Pure wraps, or mixed with salad leaves and chopped veggies (celery and steamed asparagus, for example).

Recipe: Paleo ají de gallina in the slow cooker

This is my first attempt to Paleoise the classic Peruvian dish ají de gallina (I posted a more traditional recipe here). Considering the original version contains bread, milk (evaporated!), and Parmesan cheese, this wasn’t an easy task.

I used pecan meal instead of bread, coconut cream instead of milk and celery salt to compensate for the lack of the Parmesan’s umaminess. The result was good, obviously not as good as to fool someone who has tried the real deal, but hopefully I’ll get there eventually.

Paleo ají de gallina(Paleo Peruvian chicken “curry”)
Yield: 4 servings

Paleo aji de gallina

Ingredients

  • 700 gr chicken breast
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ají amarillo (or any other yellow chili, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup pecan meal
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 boiled egg, to serve
  • 4 black olives, to serve

Directions

  1. Place chicken breasts and stock in slow cooker.
  2. Top chicken with onion, garlic, chili, celery salt, pepper, and pecan meal.
  3. Cook on low for 4 – 5 hours.
  4. Shred chicken with two forks, add the coconut cream, stir and cook for 20 more minutes with the lid off.
  5. Turn slow cooker off, mix in the chopped pecans, and adjust seasoning.
  6. Serve garnished with an olive and half a boiled egg.
  7. The traditional way of eating this dish is with rice and boiled potatoes, we had it with cauliflower “rice”, spinach, baked baby carrots and grilled asparagus.

Recipe: Ají de gallina (Peruvian chicken “curry”)

This one’s a classic. One of Peruvian favourite dishes of all times, as many others heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine. It’s Alvaro’s favourite Peruvian dish, and very easy accepted by foreign palates.

Ají de gallina translates as “hen chilli” although most of the times it’s made with chicken (easier to get, milder in flavour and more tender in texture than hen). It contains chilli but calling it a “chilli” would lead to think it’s similar to the Tex-Mex concoction. That’s not the case, so let’s call it a “curry”, for lack of a better category.

The original recipe is not gluten or dairy free. Feel free to use gluten-free bread (or even better, almond meal) instead of bread and almond/quinoa/rice/oat milk instead of evaporated milk. If you’re not completely lactose intolerant I’d suggest keeping the Parmesan as it’s not that much and plays an important role in the taste of the dish. Another twist I haven’t tried is using coconut flour and coconut milk but then the whole flavour profile of the dish would change and the Parmesan would be entirely out of place.

Ají de gallina (Peruvian chicken “curry”)
Yield: 4 – 5 servings

Ají de gallina

Ingredients

  • 600 gr chicken breast
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon ají amarillo (or any other yellow chilli, to taste)
  • 2 – 3 slices of bread
  • 50 gr Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 50 gr pecans
  • salt
  • pepper
  • boiled eggs, to serve
  • black olives, to serve
  • boiled potatoes, to serve (optional)
  • white rice, to serve (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook chicken breast in stock.
  2. Chop onion and mince garlic cloves.
  3. When chicken is done, reserve stock and shred meat with your fingers or using a fork.
  4. Remove bread crust, cover with hot reserved stock and break using a whisk or fork.
  5. Heat oil in a pot over low heat. Add onion, garlic and chilli, cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Add chicken, bread and stock to the pot. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Grate cheese.
  8. Chop pecans. Size is optional, I like them chunky.
  9. Add Parmesan and milk to pot. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Add chopped pecans.
  11. Serve garnished with an olive and half a boiled egg, with potatoes and/or rice on the side (or vegetables if you’re taking it easy on the carbs).

Recipe: Arroz con pollo

I’m happy to report that so far I’ve accomplished my goal of cooking a Peruvian meal once a week. My determination has been fired by the drool-worthy photos my friend Carla posts in Facebook, and even when most of the food will never taste the same here, I’ve managed to dish up pretty decent meals.

Last week’s dish was arroz con pollo. It literally means rice with chicken, a very lame name for a rather tasty dish, if prepared properly. This is the lazy cousin of arroz con pato (rice with duck), one of my favourite Peruvian dishes that comes from the north coast of the country. Its ingredients include chicha de jora (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented maize), coriander, yellow chilli, and pumpkin (a variety called loche), which are very typical in that region’s cuisine. Apparently it was when arroz con pato hit Lima that the duck was replaced by the cheaper and more available chicken, and the recipe was simplified. Sometimes housewives simplify it so much, it ends up as a tasteless dry rice slightly coloured by a bit of coriander. Not good.

I must say I prefer the full version of the dish with duck, but considering this was a meal to share with friends and I wasn’t sure if everybody liked duck, I chose to play on the safe side. If you’re a duck lover and would like to give it a go, keep in mind you’ll have to cook it longer.

As for the marinade ingredients, I’ve put chicha de jora as optional in the recipe because I know for most people it’s not worth the hassle to get it. Thankfully, my beloved Peruvian shop Tierras Latinas (which I have visited only once and stocked my pantry to avoid trips to Fairfield for a while) sells it. Regarding the beer, in Peru we use dark malt beers that are full-bodied and more on the sweet side. Here I’ve tried a mix of Guinness and a sweetish ale, Toohey’s Old alone, and White Rabbit Dark Ale alone. I prefer the taste of the dark ale, but any good beer will do the trick.

Finally, regarding the veggies added to the rice at the end, the pumpkin, roasted capsicum and peas are replaced in the simple everyday version by corn, diced carrot and peas. The reason may be that there are packs with those three items ready to use in supermarkets. Not sure, just a thought.

This dish is usually served with salsa criolla, made with thinly sliced red onion, chilli and lime juice. I thought we needed a few more veggies, so served it with an iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber, celery, corn and avocado salad, dressed with lime juice.

Arroz con pollo
Yield: 6 servings

Arroz con pollo, salad

1 chicken, divided in pieces
3/4 cup beer (preferably dark ale or stout)
3/4 cup chicha de jora (optional, can be replaced by equal volume of beer)
3 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic
1 small red onion
2 teaspoons powdered yellow chilli (optional, can be replaced by fresh chilli processed into a paste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons grated butternut pumpkin (or any other)
1 bunch coriander
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons raw sugar
500 grams medium grain white rice
1/3 cup diced butternut pumpkin (or any other)
1 small capsicum
1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

Marinate chicken pieces in beer and chicha for 8 to 12 hours.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and sear chicken pieces over high heat. Reserve.

Chop the onion and mince garlic cloves.

In the same pot, heat the rest of the oil and cook onion and garlic over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the chilli and cumin and cook for other 10 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, make a paste with the coriander (leaves and stalks) and a couple of tablespoons of stock. Add this paste to the pot along with the grated pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes.

Add stock, marinade and chicken pieces to the pot. Add salt, pepper, and sugar. You’ll need to over-season it because the rice hasn’t been added yet. Cook until the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and keep covered.

Add rice to the pot and cook, covered over low heat, for about 20 minutes, until done.

In the meantime, roast the capsicum directly over fire or in the oven until the skin is completely charred. Remove skin, seeds and membrane, and cube.

Blanch peas in boiling salted water for 30 to 60 seconds.

When the rice is done, add chicken pieces, capsicum and peas, and adjust seasoning.