Buenos dias! I want to take you on a culinary tour of Lima. Where I had the pleasure of cooking with Chef Christian at his amazing Peruvian cooking class called Skykitchen.
As you may already know, my husband and I love to travel. With my husband being a history major and me being the cook that I am, we seem to agree on the fact that those two things are important factors when we decide to go somewhere. Every time my husband brings up the idea of a trip he names off different historical sites we could see; I just ask about the food.
Growing up I never had Peruvian food. In fact, I’m not sure I even ever saw a Peruvian restaurant. It wasn’t until I moved to Virginia when I had my first taste of Peruvian food: a pollo Sandwich with yucca fries. It was absolutely amazing and instantly became a favorite lunch for us.
I was extremely excited when my husband told me he booked an authentic Peruvian cooking class for our trip in Lima! We started the morning with Chef Christian at the market. We had to go early because that’s when fruit is the freshest. Christian showed us so many fruits and vegetables and described them all to us. I was so happy to do this tour because we learned so much. An interesting fact that I learned is that many of the Peruvians were missing Iodine in their diets and they figured out a way to fix it by eating sea sponge.
After the market, we drove to Chef Christian’s house where we were ready for our Peruvian cooking class. During this class we get prepared 4 traditional Peruvian dishes and their national drink: the Pisco Sour. I’ve tried to make Peruvian dishes at home, but it’s difficult because it’s hard to find some of the ingredients since they use so many fruits and vegetables from the Amazon Rainforest. One pepper is commonly used in Peruvian dishes and they grind it up into a paste called Amarillo paste. I’ve tried to replace it with peppers that can be found in an American market, but the taste is not the same. Luckily we have an Amazon of our own (of the .com variety) where you can also find the paste. The paste I chose is as authentic as you can get outside of Christian’s kitchen. Like most foods, when searching for a prepared paste, the one with the least ingredients is probably the most authentic.
Our first course was Causa Rellena. This dish was so refreshing and would make the perfect summer lunch. It is a layered dish of potato, avocado, potato, chicken salad, avocado, and potato again. You top the dish with mayonnaise and more avocado. Our instructor made a delicious vinaigrette with the Amarillo paste and I smeared mine on the plate. This dish has a strong lime flavor, but it’s refreshing to the palette. Our second course was Ceviche. This was an adventurous dish for our group because we are not fish eaters. I’m proud to say that we all tired it and loved it! We used a white fish for this dish, and honestly it didn’t taste fishy at all. Actually all you could taste was the amazing flavor of the ceviche sauce, onions, pepper, corn, sweet potato, and lime juice. It was so delicious and I’m happy we tried it because I wanted to branch out and try as many Peruvian dishes I could regardless if its not something I’d normally eat.
After the ceviche we made Peru’s national drink; Pisco Sour. The funny thing we learned about this drink is that it was actually invented by an American (USA, USA!). Americans came to Peru in the early 20th century in search of gold at a time when whiskey sours were very popular. These Americans brought the idea of whiskey sour to Peru, but the Peruvians wanted to put their twist on it by using Pisco instead of whiskey.
Our third course, was an absolutely amazing dish called Lomo Saltado. This main dish is made with beef tenderloin, onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, and red wine. With such simple ingredients, this is a dish that could be made by anyone, and be a show stopper.
Our last and final dish is a dessert that is sort of like a doughnut called picarones. The batter for this dessert is made out of sweet potatoes, squash, and anise seed. There is absolutely no sugar in the batter so you pour molasses that is flavored with orange peel and spices over the top. Our chef told us that the traditional way to eat this dish is to eat it piping hot and tear it apart while soaking up as much molasses as you can. Your hands have to get sticky while eating this dish to eat it the authentic way.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you ever find your way to Peru please look up Skykitchen to enjoy an authentic Peruvian cooking class experience.