“We love delicious food and would rather not repay a debt than give up gastronomic pleasures,” says Peruvian Stefania at the Nikkei Cuisine Festival in Lima. (Note: Nikkei is a fusion of native Peruvian and Japanese culinary traditions.)
40-year-old journalist Jorge confirms. He goes to restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, knows all the establishments in the area and sometimes earns extra money with one-day gastro tours in the cafes of the bohemian Baranco.
Peru has a food culture. No less strong than in Italy or France. Here they eat slowly, savoring every bite. Here they understand flavors, like to cook complex dishes at home and come up with combinations of incongruous.
If in neighboring Argentina grilled meat without salt and spices (asado) and pies with meat and cheese (empanadas) are considered the top of culinary art, then Peruvian cuisine surprises even gourmets with its exoticism and versatility.
It’s all about the ingredients
Peru was lucky with its geographical position: it seems that there are all natural landscapes here – from the explosive Amazonian jungle to high-altitude mosses and lichens. Each of the zones provides its own set of ingredients, and 1,500 km of the Pacific coast provide cooks with marine life of various types and forms.
As a result, Peru has products that you will not find anywhere or almost anywhere.
Exotic fruits such as chirimoya (with a creamy texture and sweet and sour expressive taste), granadilla (a kind of passion fruit), lucuma (with bright orange dense flesh and amazing taste of something between creme brulee and Brazil nuts) grow here.
Turkish delight fruit
In this country, not only potatoes are cultivated, of which there are more than 3,000 species, but also other unique root crops – cassava, oka, maca, yuca. Corn is grown everywhere, not only white, but also red, black and even lilac (maiz morado), numerous cereal-like amaranth crops with unusual names for the Russian ear: quinoa, kivicha, caniua, tarvi and unimaginable types of legumes.
Throw in all kinds of sea creatures – fish, mussels, octopuses, shellfish, shrimp, exotic meats like alpaca or guinea pig, season with Andean herbs like munya – and you have a complete set to create magic.
Market in Cusco
ceviche – the flagship of Peruvian cuisine, the first thing you are likely to treat yourself to in Peru. This is fresh fish (in variations, shrimp and other seafood), abundantly poured with lime juice and seasoned with pepper. Traditionally served with fresh red onion, boiled sweet potato and giant choclo corn kernels. The liquid that is formed from this mix has its own name – lehce de tigre (tiger’s milk). It can even be ordered separately – as a drink. It is best to try ceviche where it is a specialty – in sevicherie, of which there are several thousand in Lima alone.
If ceviche is the king of dishes in Peru, then pisco – the king of drinks. Pisco is a type of vodka made from Muscat grapes. Few people know about it, but before Argentine and Chilean wines conquered the world, Peru was the pioneer of wine production on the continent. However, a powerful earthquake at the end of the 17th century, and then political repressions against the Jezus, who were the main wine producers in the country, cut down the wine industry to the ground. The cunning Peruvians found a way out – they began to make a strong distillate from the same material – pisco.
Pure pisco, of course, is not for everyone, but a sweetish pisco sour cocktail made of pisco, lime juice, egg whites and syrup will appeal to many.
Pisco sour is Peru’s favorite cocktail
Peruvian cuisine owes its wealth not only to the variety of natural gifts. For 500 years, waves of immigration from Spain, Italy, Africa, China and Japan have brought their culinary traditions to the gastronomic culture of the Incas and other Indian peoples.
In modern Peruvian cuisine, there are 3 main directions: Creole, Chifa and Nikkei.
Creole – an explosive mixture of native Indian, Spanish and African traditions, the closest and most understandable cuisine to Europeans. Creole is common in Lima, on the coast and in the central part of the country, where the Spanish colonists first settled.
A typical Creole dish is causa, an appetizer of mashed potatoes with various toppings (avocado, tuna and tomatoes are added in Lima).
Causa at El Bodegon Restaurant
The main dishes are Ají de gallina, a chicken stew in a creamy cheese and yellow chili sauce, and Rocoto Releno, a red pepper stuffed with spiced beef stew, topped with fresh cheese and baked in a creamy sauce. .
And the most popular Creole dessert is Suspiro de Limena (translated as “the sigh of the Liman woman”) made from condensed milk and meringue with port and cinnamon.
Suspiro de Limena
Those who love Asian cuisine with endless combinations of sweet and savory flavors will surely love it. chief. Chifa is the cuisine of settlers from the southeastern Chinese cantons, which has absorbed Peruvian influences.
In almost any restaurant you will find the most common chifa dish – lomo saltado (lomo saltado) – beef stew with french fries, yellow peppers, onions and tomatoes, seasoned with soy sauce.
Another typical chifa dish is arroz chaufa, fried rice with soy sauce, vegetables, and eggs/meat. Among the appetizers, fried wontons and Chinese dumplings (dim sum) with a variety of fillings are very popular.
Arroz Chaufa with sweet potato and fish pieces
Nikkei – Japanese-Peruvian mix and the most refined among the three directions. Now this elegant Japanese cuisine, complemented by the freshness and exoticism of Peruvian, is conquering the world with might and main. In Europe in recent years, it has become a “gastronomic sensation”. While chifa is available to both the poor and the rich, you will not find eateries among Nikkei restaurants. As a rule, Nikkei is haute cuisine, where small “gourmet” portions are served.
Tiradito with yellow pepper puree
Japanese-style ceviche with ginger and soy sauce, or rolls in honey and yellow chili sauce, quinoa fried in hot oil with shiitake mushrooms in teriyaki sauce, or sweet potato puree with salmon and Amazonian jugle cocoon are all examples of the incredible variety of experimental Nikkei cuisine. .
Maki nikkei (in Russia they are called rolls)
It is worth saying that the styles of Peruvian cuisine are not limited to this – each region has its own characteristics and endemic dishes. For example, in the Andes, a typical dish is grilled guinea pig. In the same place, alpaca meat is eaten everywhere, most of all it tastes like veal, and river rainbow trout is also eaten everywhere.
Fried guinea pig with aji amarillo
Food as art
The names of Gaston Acurio, Mitsuhari Tsumura, Virgilio Martinez are now known to every culinary connoisseur. It is thanks to them that the star of Peruvian cuisine has risen on the world culinary arena.
In Europe and America, Peruvian restaurants appear like mushrooms after rain, chefs from this South American country give lessons and master classes all over the world, and 3 restaurants in Lima are included in the top 50 restaurants in the world: Central (5th place in the world), Maido (8th) and Astrid&Gaston (33rd).
Gaston Acurio – the main promoter of Peruvian cuisine
When food in a country is equal to culture and popular love, both top restaurants and mobile street foods are guaranteed to be delicious.
From Peruvian street food, you cannot miss 3 dishes – anticuchos – veal heart skewers, tamales – corn gruel wrapped in banana leaves (it can be sweet and salty) and pokeros – dough rings fried in oil with pumpkin and honey.
Famous street anticuchos (anticuchos)
Where to eat
Inexpensive but good
El Bodegon (Lima, Miraflores).
Cozy and often overcrowded El Bodegon (in the lane “market”) is a great place to taste Creole dishes: cauzu, stuffed peppers, Liman desserts.
Pan sal Aire (Lima, Barranco).
The atmosphere of a solid Italian establishment, wonderful staff, good coffee (be sure to try the cordato – it’s like a small cappuccino), gourmet dishes.
Organica (Cusco). Inexpensive, small, but very pleasant restaurant on one of the quiet streets of Cusco. All ingredients in Organica’s dishes are grown on our own farm in the Sacred Valley.
La Mar (Lima)
– one of the best fish restaurants in the gastronomic capital of South America. Here you can try everything – from classic ceviche to parmesan mussels and black rice with shrimp (be sure to order the ceviche platter!)
– nikkei restaurant with a gorgeous view of the central Plaza de Armas in Cusco. Unusual cocktails, sweet and sour poppies, fish and meat dishes in the Japanese-Peruvian interpretation with a splash of traditional Andean cuisine – this is definitely worth a look.
is a restaurant serving Peruvian-Chinese chifa cuisine. Located 2 minutes walk from the Plaza de Armas. A good selection of dim sum, noodles and fried rice, delicious meat and seafood main courses, quite interesting desserts.
Calle del Medio
is a Creole restaurant with a highland flair and interesting dishes, such as alpaca steak cooked in two different ways: stewed and grilled. Here you should definitely try the signature dessert of sweet rice and purple corn sorbet.
NOW – Haute Cuisine
M.A.P. Cafe (Cusco).
Conceptual restaurant in the form of a glass cube, located in the courtyard of the MAP Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. The menu includes Peruvian dishes made from local ingredients and interesting author’s solutions. There is a fixed menu for 180 soles, within which you can choose a starter, main course and dessert. The menu includes dishes such as truffle quinoa cannelloni or veal cheek corn ravioli. Service and atmosphere are amazing.
is the restaurant where the famous Virgilio Martinez and his wife Pia Leon brought together all the biodiversity of Peru in one tasting set of 17 servings. Each serving represents a specific ecosystem and altitude – from – 20 to 4000 m. Here you can try “Rock Clams” from sea snail, mussels, algae and sea limpet, “Desert Plants” from cactus, carob, sweet potato leaves and loche vegetable and more 17 incredible combinations.
– the second establishment of a pair of experimental restaurateurs Virgilio and Pia with the concept of “high-altitude ecosystems”. MIL is located in a remote location near the Morai Archaeological Complex in the depths of the Sacred Valley. If you are returning from Machu Picchu via Oyataytambo, this place is not to be missed.
Minimalistic design, quiet meditative music, swaying grass outside the window – all this brings you into a state of absolute enjoyment of the moment. 8 innings, not accidentally called “moments”, usually stretch for 3-4 hours, which fly by like a moment.
Housed in a luxurious 17th century mansion, Astrid & Gaston is the main establishment of the famous Gaston Acurio. From guinea pig canapés to nikkei-style alfredo pasta to quinoa tabules with bean hummus and harissa, it seems to be a collection of all the flavors of Peru.
Maido is officially the best nikkei restaurant in the world. Chef Mitsuhari Tsumura, a 4th generation nikkei (Japanese immigrant), knows that soy sauce pairs well with yellow chili, and the best dim sums are made when stuffed with Peruvian kau kau stew. Maido also has the option of a 15-serve tasting set.