5 easy Peruvian means to impress your friends back home
Peru is one of the most famous and popular travel destinations on the planet, visited every year by millions of people from all over the world. Most head for the ancient ruins or the highest peaks of the Andes Mountains, but a savvy traveler will know right away that Peru’s true magic is its cuisine.
Peruvian food is incredible, and eating in Cusco will be almost enough to satisfy your entire vacation. While your friends and parents will inevitably obsess over your photos of Machu Picchu and adorable Andean toddlers, impressing them with some new recipes can be a surprising and exotic way to humblebrag about your amazing time in Peru, how much you grew as a person, and how worldly and cultured you are now.
Lucky for us, Peruvian food is incredibly simple, and relies more on skill and technique than ingredients, making many of the meals you remember feasible for cooking at home, impressing your friends and family, and reminiscing about the wonderful times you had in Cusco.
Even if you didn’t get to eat Lomo Saltado on your trip, you surely saw it on every single restaurant menu. It is one of the simplest of “Criollo” or traditional plates, consisting of meat, peppers, and onions sautéed in hot corn oil. It comes – without fail – with white rice and french fries on the side, and when served as part of a menu is sometimes preceded by a little bowl of soup. It’s salty, extremely filling, and rich, and will immediately transport you back to that memorable afternoon in the Plaza de Armas.
In a sauté pan, heat oil up until just before it smokes. Add peppers and onions and cook for 2-3 minutes on high heat, tossing constantly. Add salt and pepper and toss again.
Incorporate shredded meat, garlic, and continue tossing.
When pan starts to caramelize, add a scoop of beef broth and remove from heat.
Pack cooked white rice into a small cup and place it upside-down on the plate. Put some fries next to it (important for authenticity). Pile up the Lomo Saltado next to it, remove the rice cup, and serve with chopped up chili peppers.
Cocktails are just as important as food and being able to whip up a nice Pisco sour will make you look extra cultured and well-traveled. Pisco, as you probably know, is the national liquor of Peru, a distilled grape brandy that is extremely common among locals and tourists alike. A sour is a cocktail that includes lime and sugar, and this version is whipped with an egg white to make a super frothy and refreshing cocktail.
Everyone has to have a Pisco Sour just like everyone has to try Cuy. There is a special tourist tax if you don’t. Any restaurant or bar or coffee shop will serve one, and there are a ton of variations, yet the classic lemon-lime version will always look impressive served in a short glass with a large foamy head.
Mix all ingredients except the bitters in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly. If you don’t have a shaker, a blender will work just fine! Add ice, and continue shaking or blending. Strain into a short glass, and sprinkle Angostura bitters over the egg foam. Sip slowly, immediately. Feel awesome, and fancy.
Pollo a la Brasa
1: Drive to a supermarket
2: Walk to the Deli
3: Purchase a whole rotisserie chicken
4: Drive to McDonalds
5: Buy 3 Large Fries
6: Cut Chicken into 4 Quarters
7: Serve with Mayonnaise and Ketchup and a glass of passion fruit juice.
Do you remember that night in Cusco? You stumbled out of Chango or Mama Africa after a few too many Happy Hour Mojitos, and that kind woman in the smock slaving over the hot grill had meat-on-a-stick ready to stave off your drunk-munchies?
Well, it was wonderful. Anticuchos are the most common of Peruvian street foods, a long skewer of grilled meat topped with a soft potato, smothered in all the sauces. You can have chicken, steak, hot dogs, or a mixto, or even go for el corazon if you’re feeling adventurous. No matter what, you’ll be satisfied, just as you were that one drunk night.
Making anticuchos at home is a perfect summer afternoon barbeque, winter-time comfort food, or anytime remedy for staving off a hangover.
- Drink two beers
- Soak wooden skewers in water
- Trim chicken thighs, steak, sausages, or animal hearts into long strips. Toss separately in Oil, Salt, and pepper. Add some chopped garlic if you’re feeling zesty.
- In a large pot, place “B” sized potatoes in cold water.
- Bring to a boil and simmer (covered) until a fork can push through to the center with mild resistance.
- Remove from water and place in refrigerator.
- Slide the meat onto the skewers, leaving about 3 inches free at the top.
- Grill the meat skewers (if you soaked the wood in water, they wont burn!) until they are 75% finished. Keep the wooden tips off of direct heat!
- Let the skewers cool for a few minutes while you peel the skins from the cold potatoes
- Pop a whole potato on top of the skewer!
- Heat them up over open flames, and brush them with meat juice before serving with hot sauce or a cilantro lime dressing.
At some point in the history of Peru, there was a massive influx of Chinese immigrants into the country. You can see it in the faces of many Peruvians, who have distinctly Chinese features, and feel it in the streets, where (it feels like) half of the restaurants are decorated with Chinese dragons and red hanging lanterns.
Chifa, though, is not exactly Chinese food, but the adapted cuisine of Chinese migrants with the ingredients available to them in Peru, and then inevitably influenced by Peruvian chauferos and mamas and abuelas over the years. Chifa restaurants are Peruvian-Chinese, and represent a huge part of the traditional Peruvian cuisine.
Arroz Chaufa is Peruvian Chifa’s take on fried rice, and is the equivalent of a staple dish in Peru’s cities during the social media age, where you can eat a three-course Chifa meal for less than five dollars. Even outside of the Chifa restaurants, Chaufa is a common side-dish for everything, and making it at home is the perfect midnight snack, or the perfect dish to get you through until that direct deposit hits.
Begin by chopping the vegetables as small as possible. Chop up the hot dogs too, but keep them separate. Chop the garlic and ginger together into a paste.
In a separate pan, cook scrambled eggs until 75% cooked. Set aside.
In a large pot or wok, heat ½ cup cooking oil over medium heat. When it begins to smoke, reduce heat and add chopped carrots and onions. When the sizzle dies down, turn the heat back to medium and add the hot dogs, garlic, and ginger. Stir frequently until the hot dogs begin to turn color.
Reduce heat again, then add a handful of white rice to the mix. Stir it together until it’s well-mixed. Add another handful of rice and continue until all of it is well mixed.
Remove from heat and press rice to the sides of the pan. Lightly drizzle soy sauce all over the rice, as even as possible.
Return pan to high heat and stir constantly while the rice sizzles and pops. When all the rice is about the same color, remove from heat.
Add scrambled eggs and stir into the rice.
Transfer immediately to a different pan or plate.
Sprinkle sliced green onions over the top and serve as an entrée or a side.
What are your favorite Peruvian dishes, or your favorite food memories of Peru? Let us know in the comments below!