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Monday, January 6, 2014

Cooking Up Some Peruvian Flavor Part 2

I had such a great time at my first Peruvian cooking lesson, that when Zuly from Haku Tours, asked if I wanted to do another one, I jumped at the chance.  This one was going to be an alpaca cooking class though, so all the dishes would be based around, of course alpaca.  I was a little hesitant.  I had only tried Alpaca once before and it was good, but they are so cute, I wasn't a huge fan of eating them!  But I thought what the heck, where would I ever get a chance to do that again?  Turns out I was so happy I did.  All of the dishes were amazing, and my friend and fellow Canuck, Colleen was going to join me.  
We started out the day standing on a street corner for quite a while.  No ones fault, well maybe our drivers, as he dropped us off and hold us aqui (here) so we assumed we were waiting for someone to come get us.  Eventually, another driver found us and took us down a couple blocks to the market where we met up with Karen (a Haku guide whom I had never met), Daisy, Chef David's assistant and the other couple that had requested the class.  They were a lovely couple from California who had a one day stop in Lima on a cruise they were taking all around the south american continent.  We picked up a few ingredients and headed back to the same hostel as my last class was in.The next two pictures are just a couple random ones at the market.

When we arrived, Chef David had everything set up and ready to go for us again.  So artistic!

Next thing we did was start washing and preparing all of our different types of potatoes.  Peru is said to have somewhere between 3800 and 5000 different varieties of potato (depending who and were you are asking), and they have a different potato for every possible dish.  We were using camote (sweet potato, cocktail, amarillo, negra, and one I had never heard of before, Chuño.  Chuno is a dehydrated white potato (seen in the bottom 2 photos here) that when rehydrated in boiling water, is like a sponge and absorbs the water and gets bigger.  You can see chef David holding one of the dry vs. the rehydrated.  The bottom one is us squeezing all of the water out of the rehydrated one before using it in the dish.

We continued doing the grunt work, chopping and dicing onions, potatoes, mangos, peppers etc.

Star Anise for the delicious mango salsa.  So pretty and, yum!

So I was lucky enough to have chef David and Daisy write out all of the recipes and email them to me. translated to english and all.  For the most part they are just the ingredients, but the portions are decently easy to figure out.  I am going to start with what is probably my favorite Peruvian dish.  Lomo Saltado. It is normally beef filet, onions, tomatoes in a soy sauce type sauce.  Simple and delicious!  
I also got to make a big fire when cooking it!  So fun!  

Lomo Saltado

  • Alpaca steak
  • red onion
  • tomato
  • soy sauce
  • red wine vinegar
  • fresh parsley
  • yellow pepper (aji amarillo in Peru, like a mild chili pepper)
  • french fries
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil

In a pan, add 3 tbsp and get this very very hot.  As hot as you can.  Add the alpaca meat, already seasoned with salt and pepper to the pan and flambe it (this is where I got the big fire) then reduce heat and add tomato, onion, peppers.  Keep moving the pan around and add vinegar and soy sauce and parsley.  Do not over cook.  The vegetables may seem a tad undercooked to american standards, but they are better that way in this dish!  
Serve with homemade french fries and rice.

The next dish we did was the grilled alpaca.  Basically just like grilling a steak.  Yum!

Grilled Alpaca

  • Alpaca Tenderloin
  • salt and pepper


Salt and pepper the meat, heat the drill and add 5tbsp of oil.  Cook until it is desired doneness.  
Serve with sweet sauce and sauce of chincho (recipes down further)

The next main course, was one that i have never had before, but honestly I think it was my favorite!  It is called Puka which means red in quechua and picante is spicy.

Puka Picante

  • Alpaca tenderloin
  • red onion chopped into small squares
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Aji special (ahi colorado or red aji) would be like a mild chili pepper
  • Oil
  • salt and pepper
  • papaya (to tenderize the alpaca)
  • 1 cup water or beef broth

In a large sauce pan add 3tbsp oil.  Get it very hot and add the sliced alpaca (should be marinated overnight in papaya juice).  Brown the meat and and add the onion, garlic and salt and pepper. Add the water or beef broth and cook about 20-25 minutes until everything is soft and reduced to a sauce.  
You could also add peanuts to this or a tbsp of beet juice.


One of our side dishes was potatoes in herbs.  Classic and delicious and went perfectly with the entrees.

Potato Cocktail with Herbs

  • very small cocktail potatoes
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh oregano
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Put potatoes in salted water and cook until tender.  Remove from water and let cool.  Cut in half and put into empty pot.  Add olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper.  Mix well.

The other side dish was a simple rice dish, but also fabulous.  In Peru, everything is served with a potato or some sort and rice.

Rice With Garlic

  • Rice 
  • Garlic
  • 3tbsp Vegetable oil
  • salt

In a sauce pan, add vegetable oil garlic and lightly brown.  Add rice, salt and water (equal amounts rice and water). Water for water to evaporate and turn heat to low.  Test and make sure it is soft to your preference.

Our final sidedish was the Chuño potatoes with a cheese sauce.  Yummy!  These potatoes ended up having  a very different texture from what I was used to, but they were fantastic with the cheese!

Chuño Cheese

  • Chuno (dry potato)
  • Queso Fresca (still trying to figure out what the american equivalent of this is, probably feta?)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Add the potato (previously quickly boiled to rehydrate and when cooled, squeeze the water out) to a pot and heat on low.  Add olive oil, salt and pepper and the cheese which has been cut into small cubes.  Heat until the cheese is melted and everything is hot.  
Can be served with the huacatay or huincaina sauces that you will see later in this post.

Now, for my favorite part!  The sauces.  Sauces are totally my thing, and no matter what dish I think the saucier the better (just like me!)  We made several and it actually seemed to me like we had too many for the dishes that we had, but not complaining because they were all amazing!

One of my favorite new ones, which I had never tried before, was the Sweet fruit salsa.  I honestly could have just eaten the whole pot of this like it was, but it was an amazing topping for the grilled alpaca.  Wow!  

Sweet Fruit Salsa

  • cocona (it is a Peruvian jungle fruit that is amazing, like a cross between a tomato and a lemon.  I think it could be omitted though, maybe substitute with some lemon juice)
  •  1 mango
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • pepper

In a saucepan, add the cocona and mango cut into wedges.  Then the orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, anise, cloves and a very small amount of pepper.  After 5 minutes of cooking, add the red pepper, also cut into small wedges.  Once a sauce is formed, it is done.

The next sauce is Josh's favorite, and they put it on A LOT of dishes in Peru.  It is kind of like a cheese sauce that we would put on broccoli or something, but with a twist.  I love it in Risotto.

Salsa Huancaina

  • 200 grams aji amarillo (mild chili pepper would work)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • queso fresco (feta)
  • evaporated milk
  • soda crackers
  • vegetable oil
  • salt


Remove the seeds from the pepper.  In a saucepan add the pepper  and some water.  Cook until soft and the skin can be removed from the pepper.  In another pot, add 3 tbsp of the now skinless pepper,  with some oil and add the 2 cloves garlic.  Brown, then put in a bowl and the 3 or 4 soda crackers, cheese and salt.  With a handheld electric chopper (a blender would work too) blend everything together until a paste forms.  Add the evaporated milk and blend until a paste forms with no lumps. 
This sauce goes well with boiled potatoes.

The next one is another savory delicious sauce that was new to me.  I love these ones that are a bit spicy!

Huacatay Sauce

  • 200 grams Aji Amarillo (again a chili pepper would work)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 30 grams red onion
  • Huacatay sprigs (an andean herb)
  • 3 or 4 soda crackers
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper


Seed, boil and remove skin from pepper.  In a saucepan combine peppers, garlic, onion, huacatay and salt and pepper.  Brown.  Using the handheld electric mixer, or blender, blend until smooth.  Add the soda crackers and and milk until it gets to just a smooth texture.  
Served with boiled potatoes or boiled corn.

The final sauce was another delicious one, and is fantastic on meats.

Chinco sauce

  • Chincho (another Peruvian herb that could be found at a Peruvian restaurant or latin market)
  • red onion
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper
In a saucepan, brown the onion, chinch, garlic, salt and pepper.  Use the hand blender to make a paste, slowly adding water to make it a paste consistency.  Put the sauce back in the pot and add vegetable oil.    Stir and heat 10-15 minutes.
This goes well with grilled meats.

And here is our finished product.  Delicious!  I just wish I wasn't so sick so I could have enjoyed it more.  Thanks again to Chef David, Daisy and Karen!  

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