Typical Peruvian Main Courses
Peruvian main courses are enormously varied in flavors and colors reflecting the native heritage, the three main geographical areas and of course the merging of traditional with foreign cooking styles from immigrants. As each region in Peru is distinct in its flora and fauna, each local cuisine adapts to the natural resources available and present foreign influences. Below find a few main courses that can be found in Lima around every corner. While some are typical for the Peruvian coastal region others clearly show the influences of other regions.
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Lomo Saltado is one of the most popular Peruvian dishes and symbolizes like no other the fusion of Peruvian ingredients with Asian techniques of preparing food. Lomo Saltado is made of sliced beef stir stir-fried with red onions, tomatoes, yellow Peruvian chilies (aji amarillo), soy sauce, vinegar and cilantro. Mixed with French fries and served with rice Lomo Saltado can be found in simple restaurants and up-scale places alike.
Aji de Gallina, a spicy chicken stew, is a popular Peruvian dish especially on Lima's "cold" winter days. Aji de Gallina consists of thin chicken strips served in a savory creamy yellow sauce made of milk, bread, parmesan cheese, yellow Peruvian chilies (aji amarillo), garlic, pecans or walnuts.
This traditional Peruvian dish (actually more a cooking method) dating back to pre-Hispanic times comes from the Andean provinces, but meanwhile conquered Lima and is found in many rustic restaurants. Hot rocks that had been heated in a fire are put into a hole in the ground creating a natural oven.
Papa Rellena is a traditional croquette filled with a spicy ground beef mixture. Ground beef is stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, garlic and paprika. Hard boiled eggs and black olives are added. Mashed potatoes are molded around a center of the meat mixture and formed like a potatoes.
Pollo a la Brasa, also known as Peruvian chicken, is one of the most consumed dishes in the country. Originally only seasoned with salt and cooked in charcoal today the chicken is marinated in a "secret" mixture mainly consisting of vinegar, dark beer or soy sauce, salt, pepper, chili, rosemary or cumin and paprika and then grilled in especially fabricated Pollo a la brasa ovens.
A poor man's dish that became a popular "fast food" in Peru. The word Salchipapas derives from its main ingredients: salchicha – sausage and papa – potato. Thinly sliced pan fried hot dogs or other sausages are mixed together with French fries and served with various sauces. Most often this dish is sold by street vendors or simple restaurants for a few Soles.
Tacu Tacu was invented by African slaves that worked on the haciendas during Colonial times using leftovers to make a hearty and substantial meal. A mixture of rice, beans, bacon, onions and spices is formed to a thick pancake and stir-fried. It's either served as a meal for itself or with a steak, fried banana and topped with a fried egg.
The traditional Creole Cau Cau is a tripe stew served with rice. Strips of pre-cooked tripe are cooked together with onions, yellow Peruvian chilies (aji amarillo), garlic and chunks of potatoes. Before serving the stew it's sprinkled with chopped mint or hierbabuena. There are numerous variations of Cau Cau: mussel cau cau, fish cau cau, chicken cau cau...
Carapulca is one of the oldest Peruvian dishes. This stew is made of pork or chicken meat, dried potatoes, onions, different Peruvian chilies (aji), cumin, cilantro, cloves and peanuts.
In this popular rice dish, layers of cooked rice are filled with a mixture of ground beef fried together with tomatoes, onions, garlic, black olives and hardboiled eggs.
Rice with chicken or sea food are very traditional and popular dishes in Peru. Ingredients and cooking techniques are very similar to the Spanish paella, so some critics say Arroz con Pollo or Arroz con Camarones is only a simple imitation of this dish combined with Asian influences; but the richly flavored rice combined with chicken or shrimps is a great example on how in the Peruvian cuisine local ingredients are merging with other influences.
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