Recipe: Choritos a la chalaca (Peruvian mussels with salsa)

Choritos a la chalaca is a typical Peruvian appetizer/bar food. “Choros” = mussels (it also means thieves in slang) and “chalaca” is a type of salsa similar to pico de gallo. Chalaco or chalaca is a person (male or female) from the port of Callao, where I was born.

The main difference between “salsa chalaca” and pico de gallo is that the former includes corn and rocoto, a super spicy Peruvian chilli. Peruvian corn and rocoto are hard to find in Sydney, so I used sweetcorn and birds eye chilli.

The best way of eating choritos a la chalaca is to grab the shell by the tip and drop the contents in your mouth. You may also use a spoon to avoid shirt stains and/or lip cuts.

Choritos a la chalaca

  • Servings: 24 mussels (3-4 servings)
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 24 mussels with shells
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1-2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped (optional)
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped

To serve

  • cancha (fried corn), optional


  1. If your mussels are fresh: wash well and place in a saucepan with a splash of white wine or water. Cover with a lid and let steam for 3-5 minutes, until they are open.
  2. If your mussels are frozen: cook according to instructions in the packet.
  3. Let mussels cool down.
  4. Boil corn kernels for 5 minutes, let cool down.
  5. Mix onion, tomato, chilli and corn. Season with lime juice and salt. Add coriander, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Split mussel shells in half and discard empty half. Make sure mussels are detached from the shells. Arrange on a plate or platter and spoon salsa chalaca on top.
  7. Serve with a bowl of cancha on the side if you can find it.
  8. Enjoy with a cold beer or white wine.

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