On Sunday morning, I booked another tour through Viator, which focused on learning more about Peruvian cuisine. We stopped at a different local market, and learned more about the vibrant, delicious fruits and vegetables native to the different parts of Peru—la costa (the coast), la selva (the rainforest), y la sierra (the highlands). One specific fun fact (that I actually remember) is that Peru is known to have a wide variety of potatoes—more than 3,800 to be exact, and more than 55 types of corn. Incredible, right?
Once we learned a little more about foods native to Peru, a local chef met up with us in the market. We had the opportunity to choose a menu that we would be cooking for lunch, and decided on ceviche as our entrada and lomo saltado for our main meal. Ceviche is made of small size pieces of fish marinated raw in fresh aromatic lime juice, tender onions, and boiled sweet potatoes, mixed with or without Andean hot chilis. Lomo saltado on the other hand is beef tenderloin slices, sauteed with onions, tomatoes, aji (hot peppers), and more spices. It is served with French fries and rice. Once we had all of the ingredients chosen, we drove over to a local outdoor kitchen, where we began our cooking course.
We started with cutting up vegetables and preparing the fish for our ceviche. We took a quick break to enjoy chicha morada, a refreshing drink (made from purple corn), as well as cancha (toasted corn nuts) and chifles (fried platanos) with ají. We then sampled local fruits, native to Peru including lucuma, granadilla, tuna (two types—green and purple), aguaymanto, and pepino dulce.
Once we finished snacking, we got back to work and completed our ceviche. While it may take hours or an overnight process to cook fish in lemon or lime juice anywhere else, the lime juice in Peru is so strong and acidic that it only takes three minutes mixing the juice with the fish in order for the outside of the fish to cook. Since ceviche can often be spicy, sweet potatoes are usually added in order for there to be a sweet taste included in the dish as well.
Once we enjoyed our ceviche, we got back to work once again and completed our lomo saltado. Learning more about such reputable Peruvian cuisine was a great experience, and being able to taste the results was just as enjoyable.