Location: South America
Population: 32.5 million
Geography: A mix of coastal plain, mountains, and Amazon jungle
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Signature flavours: Seafood, potato and sweet potato, corn, hot peppers, cheese, chicken
Peruvian food is unique to South America — it doesn’t really look like any of its continental counterparts. Eric knew he wanted to do ceviche, the definitive Peruvian dish. He loves raw fish, and enjoyed Samoan oka i’a way back in the day, and he wanted to try his hand at something similar. He had his eye on the chupe recipe and wanted to pair it with a potato dish, an Incan staple for centuries. (In fact, Peru is where the potato was first cultivated, some 10 000 years ago.) All that was left was to figure out a dessert.
Cebiche Clasico: Raw fish (Eric used Chilean sea bass) marinated in lemon juice with red onion, served alongside chunks of soft sweet potato, fiery fried peppers, and giant white corn kernels called mote.
Prep and cooking time: 45 min
Chupe de Camarones: A thick, creamy fish soup, featuring juicy shrimps and chunks of corn on the cob.
Prep and cooking time: 1 hour 20 min
Papas a la Huancaína: Potatoes in huancaína sauce (a spicy cheese mixture), served cold and garnished with olives and slices of hard-boiled egg.
Prep and cooking time: 60 min
Picarones: Rings of fried dough made from flour, squash, and sweet potato, and drizzled with a syrup made from jaggery sugar spiced with cinnamon and cloves.
Prep and cooking time: 2.5 hours including rising time
The Shopping List
Eric headed straight to Perola in Kensington Market, where we go for all our Latin American cooking needs.
There, he found two varieties of hot pepper, queso fresco, and jaggery. He got his seafood and mote from St Lawrence Market, and everything else from our local supermarket.
Ceviche (or cebiche, either is correct), should be a) refreshing, b) spicy, and c) lemony, according to Eric’s research. All three were achieved in his ceviche, which we ate accompanied by his chosen side dishes.
The chupe was incredible, with a hearty fish, cream, and cheese broth. It was loaded with succulent shrimp and sweet, juicy yellow corn. It had all the makings of true comfort food.
The papas were spicy, with a salty kick from the olives. The flavours were tempered by the hard-boiled eggs and the boiled potato itself.
I got called into the kitchen as support during the frying of the picarones. Eric had loaded up a pastry bag but getting the dough to curl into a circle in the hot oil was proving difficult. Especially since Eric was trying to capture the process on camera. I managed to make the dough cooperate, more or less, and the result was perfectly browned doughnuts which Eric drizzled with syrup.
We downed our delicious Peruvian feast with bright yellow Inca Kola (one of the few soft drinks in the world that outsell Coca-Cola in their home countries).
Eric and I are off on more world travels (hallo, Deutschland und Österreich!), but our WSW adventure should get back on track at the end of April. We hope to hold our second Showcase later this spring.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.