I have always heard that Peruvian cuisine is among the best in the world. And how true it is! Ceviche, stuffed peppers, choclo (maize), quinoa, and amazing varieties of fruit; not to mention the 3000+ varieties of potatoes grown here. Perhaps the only negative is their excessive pairing of rice with potatoes at many meals.
While in Arequipa, I took a Peruvian cooking class where I learned to make real local style ceviche, chorrillana style fish and of course, the national drink, Pisco Sour. Both of these dishes honestly blew me away.
Ceviche is a dish in which fish is cooked using the acidity from limes rather than heat (although, some ceviche is cooked with heat, but this is not the traditional method). The bits of fish are tossed with garlic paste, freshly squeezed lime juice, aji peppers, fresh corriander, celery and onion. Simple yet powerful ingredients. This was a total party in my mouth.
Chorrillana style fish is prepared by lightly searing several fish fillets and finishing them off in the oven, surrounded by onions, garlic, spicy peppers and tomatoes topped with oregano. The result is a succulently marinated fish at the peak of its tenderness. It’s absoultley wonderful.
Both of these dishes are also very healthy! Their depth of flavors come from spicy peppers, aromatic vegetables like onions and garlic, fresh herbs and citrus. It’s a beautiful thing.
A couple tips for making your own ceviche:
- Use a mild white fish like trout or flying fish.. The marinade is what makes this dish, so using a flavorful fish such as Salmon will overpower all the wonderful ingredients.
- Cut the fish into swallow size pieces. Traditionally, ceviche is eaten by swallowing, not chewing the fish. I like to chew it. So do what you like.
- Using fresh fish is recommended, but if you live in an area where this is not feasible, try using flash frozen fish and defrost it in the refrigerator or under running cold water.
- Don’t let your fish sit out! Get it in the lime juice as quickly as possible to prevent any food borne illness.