Peruvian food is widely regarded as some of the world’s most innovative and flavorful fare — from spicy chile peppers to aromatic herbs and ancient grains, Peruvian cuisine is rooted in fresh, seasonal, and delicious ingredients.
If you’re curious about this vibrant South American cuisine, but you’re not sure how it could translate to your home kitchen, Gastón Acurio, Peru’s most acclaimed chef and author of Peru: The Cookbook, can help.
Here’s what you need to know to get started cooking Peruvian food at home:
The Daily Meal: What are a few of the key ingredients in Peruvian cooking?
Gastón Acurio: Peruvian cuisine is the result of centuries of hard work by our farmers in harmony with nature. Peru has many varying climates and geographic regions that have enabled us to domesticate a huge variety of products, including peppers like aji amarillo, aji panca, aji rocoto, aji limo and aji mirasol; Peruvian lime; Peruvian red onions; huacatay black mint; coriander; blue corn; yellow potatoes; lima beans; and quinoa.
Are there any kitchen tools or techniques that are especially important in Peruvian cooking?
The art of marinating and its result: cebiches and tiraditos.
The art of grilling and the result: anticuchos.
The art of slow cooking and the result: sudados, guisos, secos.
The art of sautéing and the result: lomo saltado, chaufa.
If you had to choose one recipe to represent all of Peruvian cuisine, which would it be? Why?
Cebiche is our flagship dish. We have 20,000 cebiche restaurants in Peru! Our ancestors used to eat fish with aji and salt. When the Spanish arrived, the recipe changed to fish, lime, onions, aji, and salt. Acidity was introduced, and the first cebiche was born. When Japanese immigrants arrived, they introduced the idea of raw fish, so the recipe changed again, and now cebiche is marinated for just a few seconds. This is the actual cebiche — it’s fresh, light, natural, healthy, spicy, and citrusy. We love it and are very proud of this dish.
If a beginner cook wanted to make more Peruvian fare, which recipes should she or he start with?
Cebiches and anticuchos are easy to make anywhere if you have local chiles, fresh fish and limes for cebiches, and chiles and a barbecue for anticuchos.
Need more guidance? Peru: The Cookbook has more than 500 recipes that cover all aspects of authentic Peruvian food. From classic dishes to street food, from drinks to desserts, any recipe you choose from this book is guaranteed to take you on an exciting adventure through Peruvian culture and heritage. This is the definitive Peruvian cookbook.
Want to try a recipe from the book?
Click here for Gastón's Classic Ceviche Recipe.