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.
Pastuso menu

Review: Pastuso (Melbourne CBD)

Two Peruvian sisters catching up in Melbourne = perfect excuse to visit Pastuso, a Peruvian cevichería and bar under the culinary lead of chef Alejandro Saravia.

Pastuso

We visited for dinner (read: it was dark and my photos suck) and immediately felt home thanks to the neon posters and other typical decorations. In addition, we were served by an extremely friendly and helpful Colombian waiter.

Toilet sign and quipus

Given the occasion, we decided to forgo our usual glass of wine and started the night with pisco sours. We found they were milder than what you typically get in Lima, but we liked them anyway.

Pisco sour

Pisco sour ($17 each)

The menu is designed to share and there’s a set menu available. For the first time ever we figured the set menu would be too much for us and ordered a similar selection of savoury dishes a la carte. The ceviche peruano (ruby red snapper cured in lemon juice with caramelised sweet potato and cancha) was a smaller and more refined version of our national dish, but very enjoyable.

Ceviche peruano

Ceviche peruano ($19)

Even though the whole meal was delightful, the anticuchos (beef loin and swordfish skewers with grilled vegetables, huacatay and ají amarillo sauce) was perhaps the highlight, in particular the swordfish. I had forgotten how well it goes with Peruvian marinades.

Anticuchos

Anticuchos ($19)

The lomo de costilla (beef ribs smoked and slow-cooked for 12 hours in an aji mirasol master stock and served with green quinoa and Padron pepper) was butter-soft and perfectly seasoned. The green quinoa was very mild in flavour, serving as a nice contrast to the flavour-packed meat.

Lomo de costilla

Lomo de costilla (200g, $38)

We chose solterito (Andean cheese, broad beans, baby peas, Peruvian olives, heirloom tomatoes, pepper grass and oregano) as a side just because we hadn’t eaten it in a long time. Although this was an unorthodox version (it typically has red onion and rocoto, and doesn’t have peas) it was quite nice.

Solterito

Solterito ($14)

The final “salud!” (cheers) was made with a glass of pinot gris for my sister and a glass of pisco Italia for me (Italia is the name of the aromatic grape used for this pisco). Until next time.

White wine, pisco

Pinot gris ($12), pisco Italia ($9)

Pastuso
19 ACDC Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9662 4556
pastuso.com.au

Pastuso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recipe: Menestrón

The Peruvians took the minestrone recipe, brought with the Italian migrants, and turned into it menestrón. The Peruvian version is heavier on the basil and almost never features tomatoes. It’s also big on the carbs, not only featuring beans (sometimes a few different kinds) but also pasta (often penne). I grew up loving my mum’s and aunty’s, and I crave it when it starts getting chilly in Sydney. I make my version with no beans nor pasta, and often use whatever veggies I have available. This time, for example, I couldn’t find turnip, so used radishes instead.

Peruvian osso buco
Yield: 4 servings
Adapted from this recipe

Menestrón

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice (I used ghee)
  • 1 kg beef stew meat
  • 2 litres beef broth
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 turnip, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 celery stick, coarsely chopped
  • 2 nicola potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 tablespoons basil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat fat in a pot on low heat, cook garlic and onion for about 10 minutes, until very soft.
  2. Add meat, turn heat up and brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add carrots, turnip, leek, celery, potatoes and broth. Cook for about 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add peas and green beans. Cook for another 15 minutes, turn off heat.
  5. Blend parsley and basil with a bit of broth, add to the soup, adjust seasoning and serve.

Recipe: Peruvian osso buco

Gastón Acurio is without a doubt the most important Peruvian chef of all times. In his Facebook page he promotes Peruvian restaurants back home and overseas, and shares recipes with his followers. Like Peruvian mums, he doesn’t use quantities. He might indicate approximates (e.g. “a lot”, “a pinch”), but you have to figure out exact amounts by yourself. This is not hard to do if you have any experience with cooking Peruvian dishes but can become daunting if you don’t.

The first time I made Gastón’s recipe for osso buco I eyeballed the quantities and the result was amazing. I didn’t write the recipe down so I “had to” make it again. The recipe calls for ají panca, which is a dried Peruvian red chilli. You can find it (whole or in paste) in some shops like Fiji Market, Tierras Latinas and online (just Google “buy aji panca”). If you can’t be bothered just use any red chilli paste.

Gastón recommends serving it with pasta. My (low carb) version features cauliflower mash, but you can make it starchier (and more Peruvian) if you serve it with cassava.

Peruvian osso buco
Yield: 4 servings

Peruvian osso buco

Ingredients

Osso buco

  • 4 pieces osso buco (about 1.5 kg)
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice (tallow or ghee recommended)
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 2 celery stalks, grated
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ají panca paste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup tomato passata
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon porcini powder (or minced dried and rehydrated mushrooms)

Cauliflower mash

  • 750 g frozen cauliflower
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Osso buco

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of fat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Brown osso buco and reserve.
  2. Lower heat, add 1 tablespoon of fat, carrots, celery, onion, garlic and ají panca. Cook until vegetables are soft (5-10 minutes).
  3. Add meat, season with plenty of salt and pepper, add passata, broth, wine, bay leave and porcini powder.
  4. Cover and let simmer until tender (about 2.5 hours). Towards the end of the cooking period make the mash (instructions below).
  5. Remove the meat the pot and, if desired, crank the heat up with the lid off to reduce the sauce.
  6. Serve with cauliflower mash.

Cauliflower mash

  1. Steam cauliflower until soft.
  2. Mash in a food processor, add butter, and season with salt and pepper.

Recipe: Kombucha chilcano

This is a healthier twist on the traditional cocktail chilcano de pisco. I use kombucha instead of ginger ale to lower the sugar content. I’m not sure if the alcohol negates the beneficial probiotic effects of the kombucha but it sure tastes great. I used ginger & lime kombucha this time, but any ginger-flavoured kombucha will do.

Kombucha chilcano
Yield: 1 cocktail

Kombucha chilcano

Ingredients

  • 2 oz pisco (quebranta recommended)
  • 4 oz ginger kombucha
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ice cubes
  • slice of lime, optional

Directions

  1. Pour ingredients into a tall glass and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Recipe: Mixto completo (sort of)

Another sandwich recipe? Really? Yeah, we still got a lot of protein bread in the freezer. Peruvians took the French classics croque monsieur and croque madame and made the poor person’s versions mixto and mixto completo. These generally contain jamón inglés (regular leg ham) and Edam cheese. The completo (equivalent to the croque madame) has a fried egg. These are normally buttered and put in a sandwich press. Another option is to heat it on a flat grill iron (or pan). When using this method, it’s common to cut a whole on the top slice of bread with a small glass or cookie cutter and pour the egg in the hole. We took the lazy route: toasted the bread in a regular toaster and melted the cheese in the pan where the eggs were cooking.

Mixto completo
Yield: 1 sandwich

Mixto completo

Ingredients

  • 2 slices protein bread
  • 2 slices double-smoked ham
  • hard cheese, to taste (Parmesan, Pecorino or aged tasty work well)
  • 1 egg
  • fat of choice
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Fry the egg and season with salt and pepper. When it’s about halfway done, drop the cheese in the same pan to melt it.
  2. Toast the bread and make a sandwich with the cheese, ham and egg.

Recipe: Pan con aceitunas

Recently I wrote about craving sandwiches from my childhood. Today’s sandwich is even simpler: it involves only three ingredients but tons of memories. I recommend using botija olives (I’ve bought them in Tierras Latinas, Flemington Markets and Loving Earth in the past) but any flavourful black olive would do. Pro-tip: next time someone you know goes to Perú, tell them to bring some olives (and lúcuma and maca), they’re way more expensive over here.

Mantequilla y aceitunas

Once again, this sandwich features the paleo-friendly protein bread.

Pan con aceitunas
Yield: 1 sandwich

Pan con aceitunas

Ingredients

  • 2 slices protein bread
  • black olives (preferably botija), pitted
  • butter

Directions

  1. Bread, butter, olives, bread. As simple as that.

Recipe: Triples in protein bread

I don’t crave bread often but when I do it’s usually in relation to childhood memories. Among other sandwiches, we grew up eating triple, which is very popular back home although there’s nothing typically Peruvian about it. Its name refers to the three different fillings that are separated by four (FOUR!) slices of bread. Yep, Peruvians eat lots of carbs, that’s why we’re all “doughy”, as Robb Wolf would say.

I’ve come across a couple of great commercially-available bread options that we use once in a while. One of them is protein bread, that is not technically paleo but grain-free and low carb. The good news is that we haven’t noticed any ill effects from the whey or pea protein it contains. The complete list of ingredients is: water, egg white, whey protein, golden flax meal, pea protein, almond meal, gluten-free baking powder, chia seeds, linseeds, sea salt, kibbled black pepper, caraway seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pepitas, and cinnamon. It tastes pretty good, is very filling and is sturdy enough to make sandwiches.

Triples in protein bread
Yield: 4 sandwiches (to feed 2-4 people)

Triple

Ingredients

  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (preferably home-made)
  • 8 thin slices protein bread
  • salt
  • pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Peel, seed and chop the tomato, put in a bowl.
  2. Peel and chop the eggs, put in a separate bowl.
  3. Peel and chop the avocado, put in a separate bowl.
  4. Season the tomato, eggs and avocado with salt (optional pepper) and mayonnaise.
  5. Make two sandwiches by layering bread, avocado, bread, egg, bread, tomato, bread. Normally you would cut off the edges but I like the seeds that come with the protein bread. Cut each sandwich diagonally in half and enjoy.

Review: The Copper Mill (Alexandria)

As a Peruvian I feel compelled to know what’s happening in the Sydney food scene with regard to my national cuisine. The discovery that a cafe in Alexandria was serving Peruvian rolls not only sparked my curiosity but set me on a mission to investigate if the chicharrón was being properly made.

The Copper Mill

The Copper Mill is always busy but we managed to score a table. The menu revealed a few Peruvian suspects: chicharrón in the aforementioned Peruvian rolls and in tacu-tacu, and locro as an element of other dish, supporting the rumors that the cafe chef is indeed Peruvian.

Menu

As much as we both love tacu-tacu (a fried football of mixed rice and beans) we like our guts more and we decided to go with a safer option: the Peruvian roll on gluten-free bread. To put things in context, pan con chicharrón is a roll with fried sliced sweet potato, chicharrón (pork belly that has been boiled until all the water evaporates and then fried in its own -or added- fat) and salsa criolla (thinly sliced red onion pickled in lime juice). The guys at The Copper Mill have added a fried egg to bring it one step closer to the familiar bacon & egg roll, plus some lemon mayo for texture sake. The result was good, perhaps not the best chicharrón I’ve ever had but a nice glimpse of my homeland cuisine.

Peruvian B&E roll

Peruvian roll ($10 + $1.50 for the gluten-free bread)

Our second dish was a beef hash (corned beef, fresh radish, caramelised onions, poached egg, hazelnut dukkah, baby herbs) that we ordered with an extra poached egg. This hash comes with mixed with cubes of cooked potato making it a substantial base for the fresh and delicate radish slices and microherbs. I could have this for brunch every day.

Beef hash

Beef hash ($15)

The cafe has a nice variety of choices for the caffeine-seeking customers. I had a cold drip coffee that was smooth and refreshing. Alvaro ordered a coconut hot chocolate thinking that it would contain only coconut milk but it had regular milk too, which meant he couldn’t finish it. It was also very very sweet.

Coconut hot chocolate, cold drip coffee

Coconut hot chocolate ($5), cold drip coffee ($4.50)

The Copper Mill
Suite B, 338-356 Mitchell Road
Alexandria NSW 2015
(02) 9517 3214
On Facebook

The Copper Mill on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Chicken heart anticuchos

This is a tasty way to get more offal in your diet. Heart is a great source of iron, vitamin B12, zinc, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is fundamental for the electron transport chain of mitochondria (the energy-producing cells in your body). Get chicken hearts from pastured chickens if possible (Feather and Bone is a great source) and fire up your grill for this twist on classic Peruvian street food (the original version uses cow’s heart). If you’re not keen on eating heart you can try this version with kangaroo.

Chicken heart anticuchos
Yield: 2 servings

Chicken heart anticuchos

Ingredients

  • 500g chicken hearts

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ají panca paste (Peruvian red chilli
  • paste, or substitute with your favourite)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

To serve

  • 1 large piece cassava (approximately 125g)
  • ghee or butter
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Remove the thin membrane that surrounds the hearts and trim the upper fatty/vascular part. Slice them horizontally (you’ll end up with donut-shaped slices).
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients pour over hearts in a ziplock bag and marinate for at least 6 hours.
  3. Boil cassava for 20-30 minutes until soft.
  4. In the meantime, turn on your BBQ (you’ll be using the flat part) or heat up a stovetop grill pan.
  5. Drain cassava, discard hard bit in the middle, cut in pieces and fry in ghee or butter. Season with salt.
  6. Cook marinated hearts (no need to drain the marinade) for ~10 minutes, flipping them occasionally. Season with salt.
  7. Serve with fried cassava, salad and your favourite condiment (I served it with Peruvian chilli mayo).