Perth is no doubt in the midst of expanding its gastronomic horizons, with a fresh new embrace of a Melbourne-esque approach to international cuisine appreciation. While some of the more well-known international cuisines (Thai, Japanese, Indian…) food has already found a comfortable establishment in Perth, we are also seeing a rising interest in other international cuisines. Out of the woodwork, the people of Perth are now exploring (and enjoying) the likes of Korean, regional Thai, regional Chinese, Cambodian, Argentinian, and Brazilian fare to name a few, as well as all sorts of Middle Eastern delicacies that have thankfully evolved from the typical 1:00am feed from the local kebab store.
So when I was asked about Peruvian cuisine, I rattled my brain for some answers. Peru. South America somewhere. South America… What do I know? I know Brazilian and Argentinian food, masters of barbecued meats and that delicious chimichurri sauce. I know Mexican food, big on corn and beans and chilli. But none of these preconceived ideas of South American foods could have prepared me for the wonderful uniqueness that is Peruvian cuisine.
Situated on the West coast of South America just below the equator, Peru’s coastal perimeters have drawn its people to a develop a great taste for seafood. Bordered by the likes of Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile, it is a country blessed with a vast range of climate types and habitats, allowing for the cultivation of a rich variety of crops. Peruvian cuisine is known to be a beautiful amalgamation of different cultural influences. From ancient civilisations such as the Inca and Andean people to the modern influx of European, Asian and African people, it has has become fascinatingly rich and undeniably delicious in its own right.
If you’re now wondering where you can perhaps try Peruvian cuisine in Perth, fear not as the wonderful Esperanza Roberts, a truly wonderful and passionate advocate for raising awareness of Peru and Peruvian cuisine in Perth, has come from offering Peruvian cooking classes to now hosting long-table style Peruvian dinners, incorporating a superb showcase of classic national dishes. Generously portioned, mind-blowingly tasty and matched with South American wines (thanks to RedWax Wines), it is definitely a no-brainer for any adventurous epicurean out there.
Here is a sample of what you could expect at Esperanza’s fantastic long-table Peruvian dinner.
Causa is a Peruvian cold potato casserole dish, generally made with mashed potatoes flavoured with lime, chilli and other spices, then layered with some type of seafood and mayonnaise then avocado. Causa is a great start to those just discovering Peruvian cuisine, as the humble potato is an essential staple of Peruvian food. Here, it is served as an appetizer sans the layers, allowing one to experience a fantastic new way to enjoy mashed potato, matched with a satisfyingly fizzy glass of Las Perdices Extra Brut Sparkling NV from Argentina.
Ceviche: raw fish cured with citrus juices. It is commonly regarded as Peru’s national dish. Interestingly, chef Nobu Matsuhisa of the global Japanese fusion restaurant Nobu accredits Peruvian cuisine as a significant influence on his menu, with the ever-popular Nobu signature ceviche bringing Peruvian food to the forefront of culinary discussion. Esperanza’s Ceviche Clasico, wonderfully fresh pieces of delicate snapper tossed in lime and aji amarillo, a type of Peruvian yellow chilli paste, was an absolutely sensational dish that paired nicely with RedWax wine’s Argentinian Mevi Chardonnay. The incredibly generous serving of snapper was partly thanks to the great lads at Big Fish Direct, who also offer home delivery of fresh fish for those who are time-deficient. I even attempted to make my own version at home, which you will see if you keep reading below!
Huatia de Carne
Such a tasty, warming, comforting stew that reminded you of home and filled you up like a visit to grandma’s. The perfectly tender chunks of beef were coated beautifully in a rich, savoury gravy that was mopped up dry by the rice and smoky, porky beans. The red onion salad tossed in citrus cut right through it all and balanced out the meal. The secret ingredient to braising the beef is in the Peruvian beer called Chicha de Jora, an indigenous fermented corn beer). Normally used to marinate any type of meat (baby goat, beef, duck) alongside spices like coriander and garlic before braising to create a wonderful stew. Need to get your hands on some? Try the guys at Delicioso Food for all your Latin American gastronomical needs.
This delicious plate was served up alongside a robust pour of Redwax Wine’s Las Perdices Malbec from Mendoza, the winner of the show, and a perfect accompaniment to beef.
There’s no other way to finish up a sensational dinner than with something sweet, but we all know what it feels like to go overboard and instead of satisfying that sweet tooth, we end up getting knocked out completely by a dangerous spike in blood glucose levels. This round of alfajores, a delicate shortbread-like cookie filled with caramel or chocolate fudge did not disappoint. The caramel-filled variety was no doubt the clear favourite, its decadently rich caramel sandwiched by two heavenly biscuits went well with the generous piling of seasonal berries. We ended up purchasing a whole box of 6 more to bring home, so these alfajores are really something you need to get your hands (and mouth) on. Contact Silvana from Peruanisima South American sweets and catering and hop on board the alfajores train.
So after that surprisingly delicious meal (surprising mostly because I had no idea what to expect), I had a go at making my own ceviche partly thanks to a hankering craving for it and mostly thanks to Esperanza’s heartfelt encouragement. Armed with a jar of aji amarillo (from Delicioso Food) and a fresh slab of snapper, I whipped up this delicious meal in all but a matter of minutes (you’ll have to cure the fish in lime juice for 30 minutes at room temperature, or 3 hours at fridge temperature).
Finished product! Delicious homemade Peruvian ceviche with Aji Amarillo paste.
Thank you to Esperanza and her lovely husband Paul for organising this long-table Peruvian dinner. The course above is $85 per person including wine pairings. They will be hosting many more, for more details and event listings head to https://www.facebook.com/perthmeetsperu/ or contact Esperanza on 0422 061 212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all supplier information:
RedWax Wines: http://redwax.com.au/
Big Fish Direct: bigfishdirect.net.au or https://www.facebook.com/bigfishdirect/
Delicioso Food: http://deliciosofood.com.au/
Peruanisima South American Sweets & Catering: https://www.facebook.com/Peruanisimaperth/