For this writer, Peru is home to the absolute best food Latin America has to offer. It almost effortlessly mixes the land with the sea to create a balanced and varied menu that ranges from ceviche to slow-cooked chicken and everything in between. Peruvian food is heavily influenced by European food, but infuses that foundation with African and Asian notes as well. The result is something truly special, and if you’re planning a food trip through South America, Peruvian cuisine is an absolute must taste.
These dishes represent the backbone of Peruvian cooking, and are steeped in the history and culture of the people who’ve lived there for centuries. Peruvian food is refined, artistic, colorful, and precise, and this 5 examples aim to demonstrate just that.
Here are 5 can’t miss Peruvian dishes for foodies.
1 | Ceviche de Camarones
Ceviche is fish that has been cold-cooked in a mixture of lime juice and salt, and Peru is famous for it. The acid in the citrus acts to slowly cook delicate fish such as shrimp, octopus, or one of many varieties of white fish.
Ceviche de camarones, in essence, is a shrimp cocktail that is paired with red onion, carrot, and cold white beans served primarily as an appetizer in Peruvian culture. It is a dish that is meant to celebrate the adjacent Pacific Ocean and the abundant food source it provides. A single bit of ceviche is like sticking your fork in the ocean depths and stuffing down whatever might stick to it (old boots not permitting).
2 | Causa Limeña
If you like potatoes, sandwiches, and making sandwiches out of potatoes, than you’re going to die for Causa limeña. It is comprised of two patties made from cooked and pureed potatoes mixed with lime juice, sandwiched around a variety of different meat-based fillings. It is typically served with a squirt of flavored aioli over top and for dipping.
Causa limeña varies widely depending on whose house you are going over to eat it at. It is a dish that allows the imaginative Peruvian personality shine through with different colors, flavor profiles, and whimsical garnishes.
3 | Papas a la Huancaína
As you can see, potatoes are a central ingredient to Peruvian farming – and consequently – to Peruvian cooking. This dish couples the most abundant agricultural product in the country with one of Peru’s many famous sauces: huancaína.
Huancaína is a cream-based sauce that also contains a mixture of peppers and spices, giving it a yellow glazed finish that tastes even better than it looks. The potatoes in this dish are cut into rounds, boiled until tender, then slathered with huancaína sauce. until your plate is a glowing yellow pool of shiny edible gold.
4 | Tiraditos
Tiraditos aren’t for the faint of heart. But, they are for lovers of raw fish and delicious sauce. This famous Peruvian dish puts sashimi-style raw fish presented in the same way a crudo might be, then covered over with a spicy glaze. Tiraditos is a Japanese-inspired treat that was brought to Peru by travellers and immigrants from the Asian island country.
Tiraditos is typically garnished with two central Peruvian ingredients: sweet potatoes and boiled corn. It is a dish to be enjoyed by a large group of people, as anyone who can suck down that amount of raw fish might be wishing they didn’t later that night.
5 | Pollo Chijaukay
Another asian inspired dish, Pollo chijaukay was brought to the coastal Latin American country by Chinese immigrants. One look at the shimmering, sauce-covered plate and it’s easy to see why. The chicken is steamed and cut into small portioned sized pieces, then fried before setting aside.
The sauce is made from flash-fried garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chicken or beef broth, and then thickened with corn or potato starch. After the sauce is reduced, it is poured over the golden brown chicken and served over Peruvian rice. Few things are as decadent, filling, and impressive as pollo chijaukay.