Kaiseki Criollo, Spring 2016

Kaiseki Criollo, Spring 2016

Kaiseki Criollo, Spring 2016

Culinary inspiration can be found in many places — cookbooks, food films, dining at a new restaurant, visiting farmers markets, meeting other chefs, or following the World’s 50 Best Restaurants on social media. But nothing inspires me to cook as much as traveling, being immersed completely in another culture, and learning about it through food is an experience that stays with you forever. And after coming home from a week-long exploration of the food and cocktail culture in Tokyo, all I’ve been wanting to do is to cook.

For days, I was profoundly inspired to cook a Peruvian tasting menu that followed some of the progression and Japanese culinary traditions of a kaiseki meal — 5 colors, 5 flavors, 5 senses, and 5 methods of cooking, all of which center around a sense for shun, the peak of seasonality for ingredients. Going through this creative process completely transformed how I viewed a menu, thought about the ingredients, and plated the dishes. The result, a culinary fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cultures, is something that I am calling kaiseki criollo.
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Arroz con Mariscos (Peruvian Paella)

Arroz con Mariscos, Peruvian Paella

Arroz con Mariscos, Peruvian Paella

The Spanish Paella is popular all over the Americas and the Caribbean where each culture has made it their own — in Louisiana the Creole and Cajun cooks transformed the Paella into the Jambalaya, and in Peru we added a spicy aji amarillo onion sofrito to give birth to the Arroz con Mariscos, or Peruvian Paella. Start by cooking steamed rice with a saffron to honor the roots of this dish. Prepare the seafood, sauté the sofrito, and then combine all the ingredients in a paella pan. Garnish with cilantro and parsley and top with freshly squeezed lime juice and shredded parmesan cheese for a touch of umami.
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Suspiro Limeño (Sweet Sigh from Lima)

Suspiro Limeño

Suspiro Limeño

The Suspiro Limeño is a creamy custard topped with a meringue cloud, that according to a Peruvian poet is as sweet and light as a woman’s sigh. It originated in Lima, the City of Kings, and was first known as the “Royal Delight of Peru.” The traditional recipe calls for slow cooking milk with spices, but this modern version uses a popular technique that results in a creamy and sweet manjar blanco custard. In this recipe, the meringue is scooped to create a layered dessert, but it can also be piped for a fancier presentation.
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Sudado de Pescado Criollo (Peruvian Steamed Fish)

Sudado de Pescado Criollo

Sudado de Pescado Criollo

Last Sunday, I cooked lunch with my Mom, and our goal was to practice a recipe that I would prepare for our upcoming Peruvian Dinner & Stories at 18 Reasons — Sudado de Pescado, a Peruvian Steamed Fish. She told me that she liked this dish for many reasons, it reminded her of home, the aroma of the spices in her Mom’s kitchen, and the smell of the ocean in Lima, all of which inspired our cooking. As part of our tradition, we put on some Latin music while we cooked, and when the fish was simmering in the pan, I could see all the spices dissolving into the broth, creating a perfect vehicle for the slow burning aji amarillo hot pepper. When we sat down to eat, our conversation naturally turned to food, and memories of Lima. And when I asked her how the meal turned out, she kissed the tips of her fingers, smacked her lips and smiled, which in Peru is the highest compliment a teacher can give her student. Presenting, Sudado de Pescado, a family-style dish that is a wonderful example of “criollo” cuisine and the beautiful marriage of ingredients from the ocean and from the land.
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Pisco Sour Marshmallows

Pisco Sour Marshmallows

Pisco Sour Marshmallows

Molecular mixology can be intimidating, and while many recipes call for special ingredients and tools to create foams, spheres, and pearls, there is one thing you can do to transform a cocktail using simple ingredients from your pantry — you can make a marshmallow. All you need is some Pisco, gelatin, egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, and you are in business. Presenting, the Pisco Sour Marshmallow, a molecular mixology version of the National Drink of Peru, just in time for World Pisco Sour Day, cheers!
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