Peru’s cuisine is as diverse as its geography, intertwining influences from the Andes, the Amazon, the coast, and various immigrant cultures, resulting in a gastronomic mosaic that’s both rich and tantalizing. From the seafood of the Pacific coast to the crops of the Andean highlands, Peru’s culinary scene is a testament to the country’s natural bounty and multicultural heritage.
At the heart of Peruvian cuisine is “Ceviche“, a dish that’s become globally synonymous with Peru. Fresh seafood, often white fish, is marinated in lime juice, spiced with aji pepper and combined with red onions and cilantro. The citrus causes the seafood to “cook,” resulting in a dish that’s tangy, spicy, and incredibly fresh. Served with sweet potatoes and corn, Ceviche is a celebration of Peru’s coastline and its love for fresh seafood.
“Lomo Saltado” is another popular dish that symbolizes the fusion of Peruvian ingredients and Asian techniques brought over by Chinese immigrants. Strips of beef are stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, aji peppers, and soy sauce, then typically served with French fries and rice. This cultural culinary mashup is a favourite across Peru, appreciated for its balance of savoury, tangy, and slightly sweet flavours.
“Aji de Gallina“, a traditional Peruvian chicken stew, is a beloved comfort food. Shredded chicken is smothered in a creamy, nutty sauce made from aji amarillo peppers, ground walnuts, cheese, and condensed milk. Served over rice with boiled potatoes and olives, Aji de Gallina is a dish that’s heartwarming and packed with flavour.
The Andean highlands’ influence is notable in “Cuy“, or guinea pig, which has been a staple in Peru for thousands of years. The animal is often baked or barbecued whole and served with potatoes and corn. Cuy may be an acquired taste for some, but it’s deeply embedded in Peru’s culinary history.
“Papa a la Huancaina“, or potatoes in Huancaina sauce, is a popular appetizer but can also serve as a light main dish. Boiled potatoes are covered in a spicy, creamy sauce made from queso fresco (fresh cheese), aji amarillo peppers, and evaporated milk. This dish highlights Peru’s variety of potatoes and its love for spicy, creamy sauces.
Finally, “Arroz con Pato“, or rice with duck, is a typical dish from the coastal region. The duck is marinated in beer and cilantro, then cooked with rice, peas, and red peppers. The result is a flavorful, filling dish that demonstrates Peru’s ability to turn simple ingredients into gastronomic delights.
In essence, Peru’s main dishes offer a culinary journey through the country’s diverse landscape, history, and culture. From the tangy freshness of Ceviche to the comforting heartiness of Aji de Gallina, each dish tells a story of Peru’s multicultural influences and rich natural bounty. Exploring Peruvian cuisine is not just a gastronomic adventure, but a vibrant, sensory experience of Peru’s heritage and culinary ingenuity.