Recipe: Sudado de pescado (Peruvian steamed fish)

Sudado de pescado can be considered a soup or a stew. I guess it depends on how you serve it: with boiled cassava or with boiled cassava and rice. The verb sudar means “to sweat”… in this context, it means the fish is steamed on top of a bed of onions and tomatoes with a delicious broth.

One of the broth ingredients is chicha de jora, a fermented beverage made from malted maize (corn), commonly used in Peruvian cuisine. It is also served as a drink in many towns in the highlands to children and adults, despite its alcoholic content. Back in the day, the fermentation was kickstarted by chewing the corn kernels and spitting them in a bucket. Thankfully, these days it’s made through a more modern and hygienic process. Taste-wise, it’s similar to apple cider vinegar and plain kombucha. You can buy it from Latin food shops such as Tienda Latina in Ashfield.

Chicha de jora

Sudado de pescado was one of dad’s favourite dishes. I didn’t appreciate it until mum started making it with scallops. The addition of seafood elevates the dish to another level. I asked her for the recipe and she wrote down a paragraph with instructions but no quantities (for a change!). I think I got my version pretty close; dad would have approved.

As you can see below, sudado de pescado is a very simple and healthy dish to make, provided you have the ingredients at hand. I have indicated substitutions and ingredients that can be omitted.

Sudado de pescado

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 white fish fillets
  • 12 scallops (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red onion in thick slices
  • 2 tomatoes in thick slices
  • 1 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste, preferably smoked)
  • 1 tbsp ají amarillo paste (or other yellow chilli paste)
  • 3/4 cup chicha de jora (or plain kombucha or a combination of apple cider vinegar and white wine)
  • 1/4 cup fish stock
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) pisco (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500g frozen cassava, to serve
  • rice or cauliflower rice, to serve (optional)
  • fresh chilli, to serve
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Directions

  1. Boil cassava until tender (25-30 minutes).
  2. While the cassava is cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan at medium heat. Add garlic, onion, tomatoes, ají panca and ají amarillo. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicha de jora, stock and pisco (if using) to the saucepan. Place fish on top of vegetables and scallops on top of fish. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain cassava.
  5. Serve sudado with boiled cassava and rice/cauliflower rice (if desired). Garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Recipe: Chupe de camarones (Peruvian prawn chowder)

Soup season is back! I would be hard-pressed to nominate my favourite soup, but chupe de camarones is definitely in the top 5. As it happens with most Peruvian dishes, it all starts with onion, garlic and ají (chilli). Ají panca (dried red Peruvian chilli) paste can be found in certain ethnic markets or you can sub another red chilli paste.

It also features Andean staples such as habas (broad beans), papas (potatoes) and choclo (corn). Rice is also an important ingredient, but you can sub cauliflower rice, quinoa, etc.

Chupe de camarones

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 whole king or tiger prawns (to garnish)
  • 450g peeled prawns (if you bought them unpeeled, follow the optional step below)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ají panca paste
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin, finely diced
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh broad beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup cooked rice or 2 cups cauliflower rice
  • salt, pepper and oregano, to taste
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • 4 poached or fried eggs
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Directions

  1. Optional: If you bought unpeeled prawns, peel them (remember to reserve 4 to garnish) and pop the heads and shells in a pot and heat until bright red. Add the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drain and reserve the stock.
  2. Heat 1 oil in a pot. add onion, garlic and ají panca and cook at low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add stock, potatoes and pumpkin. Cook at medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add broad beans, peas, corn and cauliflower rice (if using). Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add cooked rice (if using) and all prawns, cook until prawns are bright red (approx. 5 minutes). Add cream, check seasoning and turn off heat.
  6. Serve soup and garnish with one whole prawn, a poached/fried egg and a few coriander leaves per bowl.

Recipe: Peruvian spiced chicken

I would love to say this is a recipe for pollo a la brasa but that would be a terrible lie. First, I did not use charcoal to cook it and second, traditional pollo a la brasa can be made with no other seasoning than salt and pepper. That’s why I’m calling it Peruvian spiced chicken instead.

A couple of notes about ingredients:

  1. Peruvian dark beer (a.k.a. “malta”) is a bit sweeter than most dark beers here in Australia. I used O’Brien brown ale, which is not only delicious and gluten-free but also similar in taste to Peruvian malta. Feel free to use any dark beer you like.
  2. Ají panca is a dried red Peruvian chilli. In Perú you can buy it whole, ground or in paste. In Australia is more common to find the paste, which can be purchased online or in stores such as Fiji Market in Newtown and Tierras Latinas in Ashfield. I like the brand I bring from home every time I visit, which unfortunately is not available here (pictured below). If you can’t find it (or can’t be bothered), use any chilli paste you like… but don’t call it Peruvian chicken ;).

Finally, Peruvians would typically serve this chicken with chips and “salad” (maybe some iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato). I recommend serving it with your favourite vegetables or a nice salad, for example, this one.

Peruvian spiced chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (O’Brien gluten-free dark ale recommended)
  • 2 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or other gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/5 tsp rosemary salt (or 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp dried rosemary)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients and spread on and in chicken. Let marinate in the fridge for 3-12 hours.
  2. Take chicken out of the fridge and preheat oven to 215°C (185-195°C fan-forced).
  3. Place chicken in cast iron pot or roasting pan and roast for 70-90 minutes. Time will vary depending on the actual temperature of your oven and size of the chicken. Use a brush to baste chicken with the cooking juices approximately at the 45-50 minute mark
  4. Turn off oven and leave chicken inside for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve with vegetables.

Recipe: Palta rellena

Also known as Palta a la reina, palta rellena is a classic Peruvian entrée. I do not know much about its origin but it’s a fairly popular dish, particularly in restaurants offering set menu weekday lunch deals (aka “menú”). My version is heavier on the filling, which means it makes a decent-sized lunch.

Palta rellena

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 small potato
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 small chicken breast, cooked and cooled (you can use leftover roast chicken in a pinch)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used Primal Kitchen mayo)
  • salt and pepper
  • lettuce leaves, to serve

Directions

  1. Peel and dice potato and carrot. Steam until fully cooked, 5 to 7 minutes. Add peas and steam for 2 more minutes. Let vegetables cool down.
  2. Shred chicken with 2 forks.
  3. Once vegetables are cool, mix with chicken and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Split avocado in half, remove the seed, scoop each half out of its shell with a spoon and place on top of lettuce. Stuff with the chicken mixture and serve.

Recipe: Low-carb ají de gallina (Peruvian chicken stew)

Peruvian food is delicious but can be very carb-heavy. Ají de gallina, for instance, is a chicken stew made with bread, evaporated milk and served with rice and/or potatoes. Made the traditional way, this is not a dish for those with gluten or lactose intolerance, nor for people watching their carb intake.

Note that this particular recipe is not lactose-free (you can use coconut cream instead of double cream, but it will change the taste of the dish). Serve with a simple salad on the side and enjoy!

Low-carb ají de gallina

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken breast
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup pecans (or walnuts), chopped
  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • To serve
  • cauliflower rice
  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 6 olives

Directions

  1. Place chicken and broth in a pot and simmer until cooked through (20-30 minutes).
  2. Reserve broth and shred chicken with the help of tongs or forks.
  3. Heat oil in a pot or saucepan on low heat. Add onion, garlic and ají amarillo and cook until soft (~10 minutes).
  4. Add chicken, broth, Parmesan and pecans. Mix well, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Turn off heat, add cream and stir well. Serve with cauliflower rice, a slice of hard-boiled egg and an olive.

Recipe: Simple huancaína sauce

This is the quintessential Peruvian sauce, originally the main ingredient of papa a la huancaína (Huancayo-style potato), but nowadays used as a sauce to serve alongside pretty much anything. I like to serve it with cassava chips, made by boiling frozen cassava and then frying it in butter.

The original recipe has the following ingredients: ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli), queso fresco (Peruvian feta cheese), evaporated milk and soda crackers. I used to sautée the chillies with onion and garlic but this is optional. I now omit the crackers to make it gluten-free and lower carb and use ají amarillo paste because I can’t find fresh ones in Sydney. Also, Australian feta is closer in flavour to its Peruvian cousin than the Greek or Danish varieties.

Simple huancaína sauce
Yield: about 1 cup

Huancaína

Ingredients

  • 200g Australian feta
  • 1/2 cup cooking cream
  • 1 tsp ají amarillo paste

To serve – any or all of the following:

  • boiled potatoes
  • boiled and fried cassava
  • Peruvian corn kernels threaded in toothpics

Directions

  1. Blend all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor to your desired level of chunkiness.
  2. Serve with starchy things to dip in sauce.

Recipe: Ensalada de palmitos y palta (hearts of palm and avocado salad)

I make variations of this salad every time I cook a Peruvian-themed meal. What makes it Peruvian? The avocado, palmitos, botija olives and the fact that is seasoned with lime juice and olive oil. Serve as a side for pretty much anything.

Ensalada de palmitos y palta (hearts of palm and avocado salad)
Yield: 4-6 servings as a side dish

Ensalada de palmitos y palta

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of lettuce, leaves torn
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 3 radishes, sliced
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 palmitos (hearts of palm), sliced
  • 10 black olives (preferably botija)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Prep ingredients and place in a salad bowl.
  2. Season with lime juice, olive oil and salt.

Recipe: Peruvian ceviche

Classic Peruvian ceviche (cebiche or seviche are the proper spellings that nobody uses anymore) consists of 4 ingredients: fish, lime juice, onions and chillies. It is normally served with sweet potato and choclo (Peruvian white corn). Less common accompaniments include potato, yuca (cassava), yuyo (seaweed), rice (!). Cancha is normally served as a snack, although some restaurants serve some as part of the dish. Buen provecho!

Peruvian ceviche
Yield: 5 servings as an entrée

Ceviche

Ingredients

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 500g white fish fillet, such as snapper
  • juice of 5-7 limes
  • red chillies, such as birdseye, sliced (optional)
  • salt, to taste

To serve

  • coriander
  • choclo (Peruvian white corn) or regular corn, cooked
  • sweet potato, cooked

Directions

  1. Finely slice onion and soak in cold water. You can do this step a few hours in advance. When ready to start preparing the fish, drain onions in a colander.
  2. Cube fish, mix with onions and place on a serving platter. Season with salt.
  3. Cover with lime juice. Serve immediately or reserve in the fridge if you like your fish more marinated.
  4. When ready to serve, check the seasoning and garnish with coriander. Serve choclo and sweet potato on the side.

Recipe: Ají de atún with lupin flakes

Ají de atún is a lesser-known version of the traditional Peruvian chicken stew ají de gallina. It uses canned tuna instead of chicken, which makes it cheaper and easier to prepare. This dish was in semi-regular rotation at my aunties’ so I assumed it was fairly common, but it turns out Alvaro had never heard of it. I haven’t asked where they got the recipe from but I bet it came from the Nicolini cookbook.

Ají de atún is normally made with white sandwich bread and evaporated milk. I could have used gluten-free bread but decided to go one step further and make the dish more nutritious by using lupin flakes instead. I might post a more traditional (but gluten-free) recipe in the future, so keep your eyes peeled. For now, I leave you with the higher protein, higher fibre, lower carb ají de atún.

Ají de atún with lupin flakes
Yield: 3 servings

Ají de atún with lupin flakes

Ingredients

  • 1 (425g) can tuna in springwater or brine
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ají amarillo paste (or other chilli paste)
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp lupin flakes
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • salt to taste
  • parsley, chopped

To serve

  • 1 1/2 boiled eggs
  • 3 black olives (preferably botija)
  • cauliflower rice, rice and/or potatoes
  • parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat up stock until warm and add lupin flakes. Reserve to let flakes absorb stock.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan at medium-low temperature.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají amarillo. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Drain tuna and add to the saucepan, along with hydrated lupin flakes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes add cream and season to taste.
  5. Serve with cauliflower rice, rice and/or potatoes. Garnish with an olive, 1/2 boiled egg and chopped parsley.

Recipe: Pescado sudado (Peruvian steamed fish)

This is another Peruvian classic dish, very easy to make and very comforting. “Sudar” means to sweat, the name reflects the fact that the fish is cooked by the steam produced by the liquid at the bottom of the pan.

The recipe calls for a couple of Peruvian ingredients (ají panca and chicha de jora), which can be found in a few stores in Sydney (contact me if you’re interested), but can be substituted if needed. While this dish is mainly made with fish only, my mum makes a killer version with fish and scallops, and a friend makes one with mussels.

Pescado sudado (Peruvian steamed fish)
Yield: 4 servings

Sudado de pescado

Ingredients

  • ~800g white fish fillets (I used snapper)
  • 2 tbsp oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ají panca (or other red chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree or passata
  • 2 tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • 2 red onions, thickly sliced
  • 3/4 cup chicha de jora (or white wine or plain kombucha or a combination)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lime, optional

To serve

  • coriander leaves
  • rice (or cauliflower rice)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic, ají panca, tomato puree, plus half of the onion and tomato slices and cook at low-medium heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Add liquid and bring to a simmer.
  3. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and arrange them on top of the sauce ingredients.
  4. Top fish with the rest of onions and tomatoes, cover pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add lime juice if desired, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or cauliflower rice and a side salad.