For those of you that don’t know me, I love eating ethnic food! Preparing different cuisines from around the world inspires me to try new foods and strengthen my culinary skills. For years I have talked about starting a cultural foods night with family and friends. Last night I finally put my words into action and had our first cultural foods night featuring Peruvian food. We chose to feature Peruvian food because my husband and I traveled to Peru last summer and fell in love with the culture and cuisine. We wanted to share this experience with our friends and what better way then with food? It also provided us with a captive audience for our pictures
For our first cultural foods night we started off with a small group including one of my friends who is also a dietitian Liz Triggs, her husband , and 2-year-old son.
For our Peruvian drink we chose to make the famous pisco sour. Pisco is a popular brandy produced in South America which uses only certain varieties of grapes. It took me a while to find Pisco in California, but I eventually found it in a local liquor shop. We placed pisco, lemon juice, sugar, ice and egg white into a mixer, shook it, and then strained it into a martini glass.
As an appetizer Liz prepared ceviche and solterito salad. Ceviche* consists of raw white fish or shrimp, cured in lime juice, and onion. The acidity of the lime juice breaks down the protein and kills some of the harmful microorganisms present*. Many places serve ceviche with tortilla chips or tortillas. It was one of our favorite dishes in Peru and each restaurant had a slightly different way of preparing it. We never tried solterito in Peru, but it was delicious at our cultural foods night. It consisted of lima beans, Choclo (corn), carrots, onion, and queso fresco cheese tossed in a light vinaigrette. Lastly, I made a quinoa soupconsisting of quinoa, potatoes, carrots, garlic, swiss chard, and peas. Quinoa is a type of whole grain that originated in the Andean region and was a staple food among the Incas and remains popular today.
As our main entree we prepared Lomo Saltado, a stir fry consisting of beef, onions, tomatoes, yellow chili peppers and french fries. In Peru, the dish is also prepared with alpaca instead of beef. The dish is a symbol of how the different cultures have influenced the cuisine over the years. The Chinese brought over the stir fry method in the early 1920’s and the Peruvians began using this technique. Then in the last 20 years or so they began using french fries instead of wedged potatoes due to the American influence. This dish uses distilled vinegar and soy sauce as flavoring and traditionally is served over white rice. It was super easy and tasted authentic.
No Peruvian meal would be complete without alfajores! While we were in Peru we searched the streets to find these delicate carmel sandwiched cookies. The ones shown here are made with cornstarch which gives it an airy texture. The carmel filling, otherwise known as “dulce de leche,” is made from sweetened condensed milk.
We had so much fun preparing Peruvian foods and hope to have another cultural foods night soon. We are going to try to start having a cultural foods night once a month. Next up is the Dominican Republic.
* Eating raw or undercooked foods can lead to sickness or even death