Peruvian cuisine is fine cuisine. It has been influenced by Inca, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, German, and Japanese cuisines, so it’s quiet eclectic. One thing remains true, it comes from a respect for local ingredients so in many places potatoes, maize and chili peppers are still staples. Even with these as staples, Peruvian cuisine it tends to be light and healthful. Ceviche is Peru’s most well-know dish, but now its native quinoa has been discovered by the world as a healthful and delicious grain.
Each region has its own special dishes based on what ingredients are most plentiful there. Peru's ecological and climactic diversity provides a wide range of fresh produce. The rich Peruvian fishing grounds abound in fish and shellfish species, the heart of the coastal gastronomy; rice, fowl and goat, meanwhile, are the key ingredients of Peru's north coastal cooking. In the Andes, the potato and sweet corn in all its varieties, plus cuy (guinea pig) and ají chili pepper are the basis of highland cooking. The jungle adds its own touch, wild game with a side serving of fried banana and manioc root. Local fruit varieties such as chirimoya (custard apple) and lucuma produce incomparable deserts.
Ceviche (raw fish marinated in lemon juice), pachamanca (meat and vegetables cooked underground), chupe de camarones (shrimp soup), ají de gallina (spicy chicken) and juanes (corn mash pastries) are just a few of the mouth-watering dishes in Peru.
Cultural Expedition’s Peruvian Cuisine tours offer visitors the opportunity to visit local outdoor markets where fresh and colorful ingredients are displayed in all their glory, to sample the best of local cuisine, to visit with chefs and attend cooking workshops. Please see the Specialized Cuisine Tours for more details.
Quinoa is a cereal grain from the Andes of Peru and South America, closely related to the amaranth. Quinoa´s origins are ancient and was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, used by the Inca civilization. Each year the Inca planted the first quinoa seeds of the season with a golden hoe and at the solstice the priests bearing gold vessels filled with quinoa made offerings to their god Inti (Sun god). This grain grows at high altitudes of approximately 9,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. Quinoa (pronounced kee-noah) contains more protein than any other grain; on an average of 16.2 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. Its protein is of an unusually high quality, with an essential amino acid balance similar to milk. Quinoa when combined with other grains or soy will boost its protein value. It also provides starch, sugars, oil (high in essential linoleic acid), fiber, minerals and vitamins. Quinoa is easy on the stomach and is tasty, light and easy to digest and is delicious and extremely versatile grain. You can also find it in natural food stores in the US as well as in many grocery stores. It may be used in place of almost any other grain, including rice, to make everything from appetizers to desserts. It only takes 15 minutes to prepare and is great in the summer and winter. Quinoa´s lightness makes it great to combine in cold dishes like salads and is an ideal source of good nutrition in the summer and in winter. It can be a side dish with meat or vegetables.
Raw fish marinated in lemon juice
Peru's most famous dish, is displayed at a Lima restaurant. Made from sea bass, shrimp,
octopus and other seafood marinated in lime juice, it is served with sweet potatoes, onions, lettuce and corn.
Lucuma is an exotic and Peruvian fruit. The Lucuma is a tree with
rough bark and thick green leaves which grows naturally in the Andean valleys. Its fruit has a greenish/brown skin with yellow/orange flesh, soft and sweet. It is processed like flour (lucuma flour) to satisfy the populations needs during the seasons when it is not available as a fresh fruit. As flour, it is easily canned and exported and is mainly used to make ice creams, shakes, desserts and combined with milk. Lucuma has a high content of vitamin B1, Tiamine and Niacine.
(Andean-Style Chile Paste) makes 1/2 cup
Chile pastes, made with fresh or dried chiles, are used in
soups, stews, and sauces. Many Andean cooks keep containers
of different aji pastes on hand in the refrigerator or freezer.
1 to 3 fresh or dried aji rocoto or 6 fresh or dried aji amarillo or rojo, aji mirasol, or aji ponca
3 to 4 tablespoons mild salad oil (canola or corn) or water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
If you are using fresh chiles, peel them (if desired), seed them, and remove the ribs. You may either blanch the chiles in boiling water or roast them for easier peeling. Coarsely chop the fresh chiles. Combine the chopped chiles, oil, and salt in a blender, and puree. If you have chosen not to peel the chiles, press the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl for a smoother paste.
lf you are using dried chiles, soak them in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Then drain, peel (if desired), seed them, and remove the ribs. Coarsely chop the reconstituted chiles. Combine the chopped chiles, oil, and salt in a blender, and puree. If you have chosen not to peel the chiles, press the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl for a smoother paste. The paste may be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for 1 week, or in the freezer for several months.
NOTES: If none of these chiles, or their substitutes, is available, we suggest using Asian chile-garlic sauce, which you can find in jars in the specialty food section of most supermarkets, as a substitute for the red or yellow aji paste or sauce. The sauce contains garlic, so you may want to reduce the amount of garlic called for in the recipe. Some brands are very hot, so proceed with caution. The commercially available ground aji powder-such as ground aji mirasol-is convenient, but it tends to be hotter than the paste because the chiles are often ground with the seeds and ribs intact. lf a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of aji paste, substitute 1 1/2, to 3 teaspoons powder, depending on the heat of the particular chile.
Peruvian Pisco is a grape brandy or "aguardiente", distilled from fresh grape. Its
alcohol content is around 42°. The word "Pisscu" means seagull in quechua, the Inca language. It is also the name of the port from where it was shipped, as can be seen in maps dating back to the late sixteenth century.The four Pisco varieties are defined by flavor, according to the grape which has been used:
Pisco puro with a delicate flavor (from non-aromatic grapes such as Quebranta, Mollar or black grapes);
Pisco Aromatico (aromatic grapes such as Moscatel, Italia, Torontel and Albilla);
Pisco Acholado (mixture of different grape varieties) and
Pisco Mosto Verde (from grape that has not been fully fermented).Pisco is the product of good grapes, good soil and an optimum climate.
These virtues are to be found in the pisco-making valleys starting at Cañete, 90 miles south of Lima, Perú. The pisco grapes require a loose sandy loam with high salinity, where its roots can grow deep, and with a pH (a measure of the acidity of the soil) between 6,6 and 7,5. The composition of the soil and the temperature in these valleys enable the grapes to grow vigorously and prodigiously, with sufficient sugar to make a good pisco.
Obviously, each valley has its own preferred varieties, which have their own characteristics. Altitude varies from sea level to 4900 ft. Most pisco producers are in the south of the country. This core area includes the places where liquor was distilled in colonial times. It has its own history and although many distilleries have disappeared, or only vestiges remain, many have a lineage going back many generations and preserve the tradition of Peruvian pisco. This phenomenon of family ties can be seen in both artisanal and industrial production. From Yanuq.com
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