8 Dishes to Try in Peru (Slideshow)
December 26, 2013
Local specialties you should try when visiting Peru
Chifa, a Peruvian take on Chinese food, was borne out of a wave of Chinese immigration to Peru in at the turn of the 20th century. While chifa is worth seeking out in its own right, if you don’t have that much time, then get a taste of Peruvian-Chinese fusion in lomo saltado, in which strips of beef are stir-fried with soy sauce, onions, tomatoes and peppers and served with rice and French fries.
Ceviche is made with raw fish or seafood, marinated with citrus (usually lime juice), peppers, herbs and spices and served cold, often as an appetizer or at lunch. It’s most common on the Pacific coast of Peru, especially in the capital, Lima, where the fish is so fresh and flavorful that it’s a crime to cook it.
Aji de Gallina
The famed creamy yellow sauce for this chicken dish is made with aji amarillo peppers (yellow peppers with a slight spicy kick) and ground walnuts, and the stew is usually served with rice, boiled potatoes, black olives and hard-boiled eggs. This hearty meal will keep you warm and full for hours.
Potatoes are a staple of Peruvian food, and are served in a myriad of ways: boiled, fried, stuffed, mashed… Causa rellena layers coins of cold mashed potatoes with a stuffing — sometimes chicken, sometimes fish, sometimes avocado — and a garnish of sliced red onions, peppers, lime juice and cilantro for a refreshing, innovative way to serve the ubiquitous spud.
There are many types of stuffed avocadoes (or paltas) in Peru, but the most memorable by far is the reina, in which an avocado half is pitted and then filled with a mixture of shredded chicken breast, mayo, cheese and lemon juice. It’s creamy deliciousness without being overly heavy – an excellent lunch dish or appetizer.
These donut-like confections are made with a mixture of pureed squash and sweet potatoes, spiced with cinnamon and cloves and then fried until the outside is crisp and golden, but the inside is pillow-soft. Served in a molasses or honey syrup, there is no sweeter way to end a meal.
Roasted Whole Trout
Trout, or trucha, abounds in the Andean region of Peru, and locals take a very simple route when cooking this freshwater fish: seasoned with salt and pepper, roasted whole, then served with a wedge of lime. The fish is so fresh that nothing more is necessary (other than perhaps a side of French fries).
Technically it’s not a "dish," but you can’t leave Peru without trying Pisco, a brandy made on the Peruvian coast and enjoyed throughout the country. Pisco sour is the country’s official cocktail, and is made with lime juice, bitters, simple syrup, and topped with a frothy beaten egg white.