by Marie Haspeslagh
on September 15, 2015

Time to bring Peruvian foods into your kitchen

Next to 3D printed products and quirky cafés, 'Peruvian food' makes it up to the list of trends that should be exploited by start-ups this year. Ceviche, pisco, avocados and the superfood quinoa come to mind, but with more than 300 varieties of chilis and 3800 different types of potatoes, Peru is home to an extremely rich variety of local ingredients. Foodpairing® highlighted some of this cuisine's key ingredients together with Chef Diego Muñoz (Astrid y Gastón) at the Mistura 2015 festival.

Ingredients native to Peru

Its climate and rich diversity in landscape, from high to low altitude, make Peru home to many native ingredients and varieties. Peru is an important center for the genetic diversity of the world's crops. Traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes (more than 3800 varieties differing in size, shape, color, skin, pulp, texture and taste, but all having their place in Peruvian cuisine) and other tubers, Amaranthaceaes (such as Quinoa, Kañiwa and Kiwicha) and legumes (such as beans and lupins). However not native to Peru, but once imported from America, the very rich variety of chile peppers (aji and rotoco) is defining the flavour of Peruvian cuisine.

The cuisine's key ingredients are now found at farmers' markets frequented by chefs, and consumption of pisco, Peru's fiery grape brandy, have doubled in the last five years. Ceviche, the country's famous cured-seafood salad, abounds on menus even outside of Peruvian borders. peru asstrid y gaston blog

Foodpairing & Astrid y Gastón at Mistura 2015

With the Mistura festival, Lima becomes the culinary stage of Peru, celebrating Peru's culinary heritage and local cuisine.

The rich Peruvian cuisine is the result of a 500-year melting pot of Spanish, African, Japanese and Chinese immigration and native Quechua culture. With two Lima-based Restaurants high up in the San Pelligrino's World's Best 50 Restaurants list this year (Astrid y Gastón (No.14) and Central (No.4)), there is no doubt Peruvian cuisine is on the lips of Top Chefs worldwide.

Together with Diego Muñoz Velasquez of restaurant Astrid y Gastón we've had a deeper look into the flavours of some Peru's essential ingredients. Chef Muñoz crossed several seas and gained experience in different continents (from El Bulli to Mugaritz in Spain, from the Grand Vefour in Paris to Bilson's in Sydney) before returning to home land Peru and becoming Chef at Astrid y Gastón. After a Foodpairing analysis in search of the aromas defining each Peruvian ingredient, Chef Muñoz creates some Foodpairing dishes, presented to the audience.

Aji Mirasol with chicken skin, asparagus, beetroot & tonic by Diego Muñoz

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The Peruvian blackmint Huacatay

One of the ingredients analyzed and turned inside-out at Mistura is Huacatay (pronounced "wah-ka-tay"), also called the Peruvian black mint. A distinct herbal (minty) aroma and a strong spicy touch, make this indispensable Andean herb a strong and unique botanical defining many traditional Andean dishes. Huacatay is traditionally used fresh or processed in a sauce or paste (combined with aji's). Huacatay paste is usually served with 'pollo a la brasa' (Peruvian roast chicken).

Of course Foodpairing allows to step away from the Peruvian traditions and combine Huacatay with other less common ingredients.

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Find pairings on the Foodpairing tool with huacatay, aji panca, aji amarillo, quinoa, aji mirasol, rocoto, canihua and other Peruvian ingredients

Starting from the great aromatic match between Huacatay and horse mackerel, chili and ginger, this fresh and spicy twist on the ceviche will only arouse your interest in Peruvian foods even more.

Twist on the Ceviche: Huacatay - horse mackerel - ginger - chili - granadilla

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