With our love of Peruvian food growing by the minute, we were desperate to learn how to create some Peruvian delights for ourselves! So after arriving in Arequipa Peru, it didn’t take us long to sign up for a Peruvian cooking experience and get our chef hats on, literally.
We hadn’t done any cooking for a while, so it was a novelty to be back in the kitchen chopping onions! Well who am I kidding, it’s always a novelty for me with Barry being chief chef in our household! Although I would definitely cook more if we had an open air kitchen like this…all set up for our class.
Cooking up a storm in Arequipa, Peru
Given three different choices, we decided to learn how to make two of the most famous national dishes of Peru. First up was a ‘ceviche’ for starters (delicious fresh raw fish slow ‘cooked’ in citrus juice) followed by ‘Pescado a lo macho’ (fillet of fried fish smothered with seafood in a lightly spicy aji panca and wine sauce). All served with the favourite local drink of chicha morada (boiled purple corn infused with cinnamon, lemon, cloves, fresh pineapple & apple) – very refreshing! So after meeting our fellow cooks and teacher, it was down to business with preparing the freshly delivered ingredients for our first course.
After chopping 2 onions, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 chilli, a small amount of coriander and LOTS of lime squeezing (8 each!), we were half way there to creating our ceviche!
With the core ingredients prepared, it was time to add our freshly cut white seabass into our citrus juice mix (note: you can use other white fish too as long as its not oily!) and let it soak for around 10 minutes until it looked white cooked. We learned the key factor was not to overcook the fish otherwise it will taste rubbery instead of succulent and slightly raw!
By this time, our pre-boiled sweet potatoes and corn were ready so it was time to display everything on our plate. 2 minutes later and we’d created our first ever dish of ceviche decorated with corn, thinly sliced onions, sweet potatoes and lettuce leaves. I must say, it looked quite delightful!
After tucking into our deliciously delicate ceviche, we couldn’t wait to prepare the contrasting main dish – the macho ‘Pescado a la macho’. Actually named ‘macho’ due to its spiciness mmm!
So our first task was to season our fish filets in garlic paste and salt & pepper before dipping them in flour and frying them in very hot oil. Thoroughly fried, it was then time to prepare our ‘special’ spicy seafood sauce, and this is where things really heated up in the kitchen! In our preheated pan with onions, garlic, tomato, hot yellow chilli pepper paste, soy sauce and coriander, we added the special secret ingredient of Pisco liquor to get these flames going!
After my singed brow cooled, we added our variety of interesting seafood into the mix including squid, shrimp and octopus before the final touches of milk and parsley to thicken the sauce. A few minutes later and we were ready to serve – voila!
So how was it? Well it didn’t last long on the plate! My lack of cooking skills didn’t seem to matter as it was surprisingly delicious and probably the tastiest fish dish we tasted so far in Peru! Modest aren’t I? Well I will definitely be trying to recreate this at home…