Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Peru

Papa rellena with aji verde and pickled onions. This potato fritter is filled with picadillo (garlic and onion spiked ground beef) with one or two raisins, an olive or two, and half of a hard boiled egg.
I am in the process of organizing all of my menus for Soul Cocina and decided to share my Peruvian menu here. I have never been to Peru. I have only tasted Peruvian cuisine in San Francisco. So my menu is California-Peruvian. I use the ingredients available here to recreate dishes and feelings I have learned from Peruvian friends, restaurants, and books.

1st course
Tres Papas a trio of petite potato classics
Causa de Atún
Yukon gold potato cake filled with North Pacific albacore tuna, avacado, soft boiled egg, and yellow chile (aji amarillo) aioli
Papas Rellenas
Potato fritter filled with garlic ground beef, and black olives. Served with pickled onions and aji verde (green chile sauce)
Mashed Purple Potato
A tiny purple potato mashed with sea salt, lime and extra virgin olive oil

soup course
Sopa Wantán
This light chicken broth with little chicken dumplings and cabbage is a popular Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) dish

2nd course
Dos Pescados two classic fish dishes
Tiradito de Lenguado
Peruvian sashimi of sole with olive oil, lime salt, orange salt, and pickled hominy (choclo)
Cebiche Peruano
Classic Peruvian ceviche. Small cubes of sea bass marinated in lime juice with red onion, toasted corn kernals, tiny cubes of sweet potato, and rocoto (small, red, round chile pepper from the Andes)

intermezzo I
Leche de Tigre
A small shot of the ceviche "run-off", tiger's milk is a potent elixer of lime juice, infused with fish, onion and spice.
intermzzo II
Chicha Morada Shaved Ice
shaved ice made from a sweet purple corn drink

3rd course
Aji Gallina
A spicy chicken stew served with rice. Originally made with hualpa (a type of poultry indigenous to Peru) this dish has a unique combination of ingredients. Walnuts, boiled eggs and olives. The sauce is thickened with a paste made from bread and milk.

dessert amuse bouche
Mini Alfajores
Dulce de leche sandwiched between two crumbly almond cookies

dessert
Mazamorra Morada, Picarones, Helado Morado
Purple corn porridge with poached quince, a skinny pumpkin doughnut, purple corn gelato and a quinoa tuile.

Photo from the Comunidad del Cebiche Blog

As you can see from my menu, the cuisine of Peru has been influenced by Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, African, Caribbean cooking and more. There is even a Peruvian-East Indian connection out there. Peru's indigenous ingredients play a lead role in defining this global cuisine.

There are a lot Peruvian ingredients available in markets here in San Francisco. I can get dried purple corn, fresh purple potatoes, choclo (peruvian hominy) , huacatay is very similar to the epazote found in Mexican markets, I can occasionally find Peruvian chile peppers (aji), but not all of the time. But there are also all sorts of interesting ingredients in Peru that never leave the country.
Let's see what Anthony Bourdain eats in Peru.



Peruvian desserts have a great Spanish influence, which in turn is influenced by the sweets of the Moors of North Africa. Fried doughnuts in fragrant syrup find there way to Peru via picarones. This is just another piece in Soul Cocina's ongoing fried dough puzzle. Like the savory food of Peru, the desserts also have elements of the nations indigenous cuisine. Just take a peek at these desserts to get an idea of what I am talking about.

We have many great Peruvian restaurants here in town. Ranging from high end and fancy to down home and comforting. My favorite is El Perol. This place is inside of the Mission market near 22nd street and Mission street. It seems like more of a stand than a restaurant. The common indoor courtyard used for dinning is shared with a butcher, a produce shop, and a fish market. It feels like you are eating outside in a patio. Order from the counter. They have passion fruit juice, chicha morada, papas rellenas, and big plates of rice and fish, and meat, and yucca, and plantains. The fish soup is great.
Like the cuisine of Peru, the music has a Spanish-Afro-Caribbean feel while maintaining it's own unique Peruvian identity.

Here are a few songs by the heavy duty Peruano sonero who goes by the name of Melcochita. Great salsa music from Peru.
Tunes: Bombele , Yay Voy and A Comer Lechon by Melcochita
Of Afro-Cuban heritage, you can hear the influence of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and themes in his music.
buy his cd's here.

Chabuca Granda is on of the godmothers of Peruvian music.
Tune: La Herida Oscura by Chabuca Granda (Peru 1920-1983)
I love the use of vibes with a juice harp.

Here is a little psychadelic cumbia called Chicha in Peru
Tune: Ven Mi Dulce Amor by Los Destellos
Chicha is named after the Peruvian fermented corn drink
Chicha morada is an unfermented drink made from purple corn. From what I have tried, most chicha morada in Peruvian restaurants is sweeter than kool-aid, but you can buy dried purple corn at Latino markets and make your own. All you need to do is boil the purple corn in water with a little lemon or lime and sweeten with sugar to taste. Steep the corn for about half an hour and strain. Serve chilled. There are a lot of Peruvian dishes that use purple corn, But I have gone overboard in creating purple corn desserts. I have used purple corn and quince to make Mazamorra morada, and from this mazamorra morada I have made porridge by whisking in purple corn meal to make a sort of sweet purple polenta. I have steeped purple corn in milk for a base to make gelato. And I have also made purple corn mousse and foam.

Here is a dessert I call Purple Rain
Hot mazamorrada with sauteed corn and blueberries, purple corn gelato, puffed corn, and chicha morrada foam.


Tune: Chula Vende Chicha by Los Hermanos Flores from El Salvador.

Here are Los Destellos performing La Llorona

I love this song also called La Llorona
Tune: La Llorona by Chavela Vargas

Tune: Como una Rosa Roja by Lucha Reyes (1936-1973)from Peru from the LP La Morena de Oro del Peru

Tune: Asi Lo Quieres Tu by Lucha Reyes from Peru. This song is from the LP Mi Ultima Cancion

The Peruvian Lucha reyes is not the only Latina superstar from the 20th century. She shares her name with a Mexicn diva who also has a powerfully haunting voice.

Tune: La Tequilera by Lucha Reyes from Mexico (1906-1944)

Tune: Indian Carnaval by Yma Sumac

Tunes: Negra presunituosa, Xanahari and Valentin by Susana baca
Buy her music here.

2 excellent starting points for Peruvian music are the compilations:
The Soul Of Black Peru
and
The Roots of Chicha

There is a lot of new music coming out of Buonos Aires in the form of cumbia remixes by cats like . There are tons of Mexican artists who are putting out some interesting cumbia projects too. But what's the new "underground" scene of Peru? Is it TechnoChicha/cumbia!? The only post-modern Peruvian music I have is by the group NovaLima. It is aen EP record that has a few remixes from their Afro album. The beats are OK and the sound is fresh but I would like to here some Peruvian remixes done in the style of Zaman8 or JStar or Romanowski.

Tune: Candela Faze Action Dub by NovaLima

6 comments:

::Alejandro:: said...

Very very impressive posting. A well-thought menu. Good music, great illustrations. A solid knowledge of peruano. Are you SURE you've never been to Peru? Jajaja... en serio, excellent post. You may be seeing this at Peru Food as part of the On The Blogs feature. Saludos desde El Ley!

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