After all these recent visits to various Peruvian fusion spots like La Rosa Nautica, Mullu, Astrid & Gastón, Bardot and probably at least one more I’ve forgotten, we thought we’d turn our sights that direction. We’ve had fun with it in the past, and although Henry tends to not like me to mess with his cultural cuisine too much, that’s more a matter of principle than it is a distaste for the results – which he generally likes a lot.
Continuing to play with our beet causa, which, for the most part, the last time I was playing with it I was looking at a sort of deconstructed presentation. While pretty, and definitely highlighting the elements individually, I have to admit that presentation-wise I’m still more of a traditionalist. So this time around, played more with the flavors – in particular, changing the causa base up from potato to sweet potato. Other than that, the elements stay the same.
A classic soup of the Amazon rainforest region of Peru, timbuche, our style – really simple to make and really tasty, unless you’re one of those folk for whom cilantro tastes like soap. In which case, just pick a different herb and go to town. For the base I chopped up a couple of large onions and crushed some cloves of garlic and then sweated them down in a little olive oil until they were just turning golden. Then I added fish stock and chickpeas and a little leftover bread, and let it simmer away for about 15 minutes. The chickpeas are not traditional for thickening, potato or another starchy root is more common, but with the rest of the menu I didn’t want to go quite as heavy. Then pureed it all with a handful of parsley and several handfuls of cilantro – both leaves and stems on each. Heated that back up for service and added sauteed freshwater fish to it – a mix of trout and pejerrey (silverside), which were the only freshwater fish available in the market last week. Classically the soup would probably have some other fish that are more native to the region in it – most likely something like surubí and pacú (same link as the pejerrey).
I was originally going to do something like a pulpo al olivo, but use baby octopi, but in the end decided to confit them the same way I did the jibia last week, and serve one each atop our heart of palm and white bean fritters with seasoned mayo. So, not very Peruvian in the end, other than maybe the little garnish of red onion, chives and chilies.
While Henry likes my ají de gallina lasagna, he really prefers something a bit closer to the traditional. I can compromise. Kept the aji itself completely traditional, and it’s served over classic Peruvian style rice, but instead of boiled potatoes scattered about underneath I made potato baskets; instead of wedges of hard boiled egg, I went with egg nets draped over the top, instead of chopped olives I made a classic tapenade, and then scattered some chopped parsley, cilantro and red chilies over the whole thing. Made us both happy.
Wanted to make something with lúcuma, but my supplier is out of stock right now, so I picked up some papaya. This is a little mousse torte of sorts and a take-off on this modern lúcuma dessert. The base is a brazil nut dacquoise – essentially a meringue with nuts in it, baked in the oven to set and lightly brown, then cooled, and topped with a papaya and manjar blanco (essentially dulce de leche with vanilla) mousse that’s just slightly set with gelatin and then frozen. Caramel sauce and grated chocolate finish the plate.
And that’s what you missed
on Glee last week…