Recipes: time to cook Peruvian dishes

My journey around the world with food continues, and today I’m back in Peru. This time I’m cooking it myself. The lovely people from Viva Peru sent me some special Peruvian ingredients. My recent visit to Lima (the restaurant, not the city!) gave me the chance to learn more about the food of this beautiful country. Cooking with it was an even bigger adventure.

When I opened my box to discover the contents, I had no idea what to do with them. Or even what they were, really. Thank goodness for google. A couple of hours on the internet and I was armed with much more knowledge and some bright ideas for creating tasty dishes.

Chilli peppers feature in a big way in Peruvian cuisine. These three pastes are made from three different types of chilli pepper: yellow (amarillo), red (panca) and rocoto. They all taste distinctive and are of different heats. And they really versatile to use in all sorts of dishes as marinades, dips or sauces.

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I made three different dips to test them out. Mix 2-3 tbsps of your chosen paste with a cup of mayonnaise or natural yogurt. Add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice, a dash of vinegar and a dash of sugar for a zesty, tasty dip to serve with crisps or crudites. We ate ours with crumbed lemon sole goujons – a great change from tartare sauce.

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Some of my ingredients to experiment with

Marinated pork medallions

Next up I used the Aji Amarillo in a marinade for pork. It added sweetness and heat and  made the pork beautifully moist. A simply delicious dish.

Serves 1

3 pork medallions

1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the marinade

1 tbsp Aji Amarillo paste

2 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

A pinch of cumin

Mix the marinade ingredients together. Rub them well into the pork medallions, cover the dish and marinate for at least two hours, turning occasionally.

Heat up the vegetable oil in a pan. Fry the medallions for about seven minutes on each side, basting with the leftover marinade until cooked through and browned.

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Succulent little pork medallions marinating

Peruvian potato salad

Evaporated milk seems to feature a lot in Peruvian dishes. It’s unusual as it’s sweet and is used in savoury dishes. I decided to try this version of potato salad. I added mayonnaise to the mix as didn’t want it too sweet. Topping it with the lettuce and hard boiled egg produces a wonderful mix of flavours and textures and the whole thing went beautifully with my pork.

12 new potatoes

1 small onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 tbsps Aji Amarillo paste

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lime

Half an iceberg lettuce, chopped

2 eggs, hard boiled and sliced

Boil the potatoes, allow to cool and chop in half

Mix together the onion, garlic, evaporated milk, mayonnaise and lime juice. Coat the potatoes well with the sauce. Top with a layer of chopped lettuce and layer the slices of eggs on top.

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The first layer of the salad: potatoes and sauce

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Topped with crispy lettuce and flavoursome eggs

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My plate of lovely Peruvian food

And then there’s this moreish corn. It’s called Maiz Cancha and looks like elongated corn. Heat a decent knob of butter in a pan and pour in enough corn to cover the bottom. Keep it on a fairly high heat and put the lid on. These little corns can leap a significant distance, so leave them to pop. They aren’t like popcorn, instead they burst slightly so the inside becomes fluffier. I found that adding a teaspoon of Aji Amarillo to the butter gave them a lovely, spicy twist.

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Visit http://www.vivaperu.co.uk/ to get some Peruvian products to try out and for some recipe inspiration.

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