If you’re looking for a fun, interactive Perth night out where you learn how to cook Peruvian food and you leave with a full stomach then this Peruvian cooking class demo is for you. Hosted by the vivacious Esperanza Roberts with experienced Chef Luis Vergara, the three-hour class is delivered in an enjoyable environment where they teach you about the history of Peruvian cuisine whilst learning to cook a delicious four-course meal.
Peruvian food is something I know next to nothing about so I was intrigued with what the night had to offer. There are a variety of influences in Peruvian cuisine from different cultures over time. The majority of inspirations coming from the Incas and Spanish with Japanese and Chinese coming later in the 19th century. Seafood also features heavily in their dishes given their location in South America.
Located in Osborne Park, the Peruvian cooking classes are held in a fully contained chefs kitchen in the back of the industrial area at Pan-O-Rama Catering. Tables and chairs are positioned around the main table for Chef Luis to showcase his skills and explain all there is to know about Peruvian gastronomy.
Chef Luis has been living in Australia for 8 years and you can tell he really enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience about Peru through the cooking demonstrations. In front of an intimate group of 18 people, Chef Luis is given the opportunity to showcase his skills and teach people how easy it is to recreate the meals at home.
An eclectic mix of people attended the Peruvian cooking class ranging from all ages and nationalities. Everyone was really enjoying him or herself, drinking wine (it’s BYO) and asking questions about how the food is prepared. Some were from South America where as others had been to Peru and were interested in recreating the dishes they’d eaten on their travels. With no Peruvian restaurants currently in Perth, it’s the perfect way to sample flavours from this part of the world.
The first dish of the night was Chalaca Mussels, which is from a particular region in Peru, from the Port of Lima. For something so simple to make, it really was delicious and visually, beautiful with all the colours of the salsa.
Chef Luis explained different cutting techniques to use when preparing the vegetables and how the mussels differ from South America to those found in Australia. Premade spoons were served up and we got to taste this incredible appetizer. Made with a hue of colours, the flavours were fresh and the salsa crunchy. An abundance of lime is used in Peruvian food and the zing was strong but married well with the saltiness of the mussels. Traditionally eaten in one mouthful, I wasn’t so elegant eating this dish but I didn’t care because it tasted so good. Left with my tongue tingling from the chilli, I was already convinced Peruvian food is right up my ally when it comes to taste sensations.
Seated next to Esperanza’s husband, Paul, he explained that Chalaca Mussels are traditionally served with a cold beer. Definitely a tip to remember for next time, I’ll make sure to have some in the esky for the next Peruvian cooking class.
With seafood featuring heavily in Peru, this next dish was fusion inspired – Tiradito, because it’s influence comes from Japan as the fish is served sashimi style. Chef Luis explained that white fish is the best fish to use for this dish so snapper is a good choice or tuna as it’s firm.
Like the first dish, an abundance of lime is used in the sauce as well as the yellow chilli and this cures the fish. The sweet potato puree was smooth and has a sweet, spicy flavour due to the cloves, cinnamon and orange zest. I love corn and by charring it first on the stove, it had a lovely smoky taste. This dish is also served cold and goes down well with a white wine.
The main for the evening was my favourite and is something I am definitely keen to make at home. Like the previous dishes, red onion makes an appearance as well as the yellow chilli. Pork Chicharron is succulent slow cooked pork that is first sealed in a fry pan and then slow cooked in stock for little over two hours.
I liken this dish to a traditional UK roast but with a bit more spice and kick to it with the sauce. Instead of traditional roast potato however, yucca is used which is also known as cassava.
It can’t be bought fresh in Australia but can be found in the frozen section of Asian grocery stores. We were able to sample the yucca after it had been boiled and it had an interesting texture and rather plain flavour. After being boiled, the main vein needs to be removed from the centre of the vegetable and then fried. I found it to be similar in taste and texture to that of a parsnip. It’s very mild but the frying adds crispness to the outside while the inside remains fluffy and soft.
Peru’s fantastic cuisine also extends to their dessert and the last dish of the evening was called Suspiro Limeno. Consisting of deconstructed Peruvian caramel and liqueur meringue with strawberries and kiwi fruit, it was so attractive on the plate and was a lovely sweet treat for the end of the night. Although the caramel was very sweet the garnish of fruit added freshness to the dish and kept it quite light.
The Peruvian dishes featured throughout the course of the evening can easily be recreated and Chef Luis ensures he answers any questions the audience may have so they translate easily to home cooking. It was a really enjoyable Peruvian cooking class and one I would recommend to people to go with a group of friends, a bottle of wine (or some beers!) and allow yourself to soak up the atmosphere and entertainment of Esparanza Roberts and Chef Luis Vergara.
Peruvian cooking classes and degustation Peruvian tapas at home are promoted by Esperanza Roberts who can be contacted on 0422 061 212 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. To give you an idea of cost, tickets for this Peruvian cooking class was $115 pp.
Suppliers of Peruvian yellow chilli paste can be purchased at:
Shop 162, Coventry Village
243 Walter Road, Morley
Ace Asian Mini Mart
Shop 11, Cockburn Shopping City
Beelier Road, Success
Disclaimer: foodie cravings was invited as a guest of Esperanza Roberts to this Peruvian cooking class held at Pan-O-Rama Catering, see disclosure policy for further details.