The Parihuela is a hearty and spicy seafood soup that has modest origins in the fishing communities of Peru and is very popular all along the coast. And now that winter has arrived to the coast of California, it’s perfect for a rainy day in San Francisco. Though it is similar to the French Bouillabaisse from the port of Marseille, its flavors and ingredients are uniquely Peruvian.
Two things will guarantee a great Parihuela: using fresh ingredients, and serving it immediately. It’s also important to use a firm flesh white fish as the main ingredient, such as the center cut of a cod or sea bass. But since Dungeness crab are in season in California, I also added some for flavor, contrast, and to enhance the presentation.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from Gaston Acurio, while the warmth and spice for this dish comes from the aji panca hot pepper. Combine that spice with cumin, ginger, cilantro, and lime juice, and you’ll enjoy a seafood soup that is flavorful, spicy, crisp, nourishing, and refreshing — exactly what the fishermen from Peru would enjoy after a day at sea.
- 1/2 lb. cod
- 1/2 lb. seabass
- 1 crab, cooked, cleaned, and cut into large pieces
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon aji panca paste
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups fish broth
- fresh cilantro for garnish
- 1 lime
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a large pot to cook the soup.
- Mince the garlic. Dice half of the onion, and julienne the other half. Chop the cilantro, and cut the lime into quarters. Clean and cut each fish into four large pieces, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Make the sofrito by sautéing the garlic and diced onion in a pot with the canola oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, cumin, oregano, and aji panca. Cook until onions are translucent.
- Add the fish and julienned onions, and stir for a few minutes to coat the fish with all the spices.
- Add the fish broth, add the crab and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes.
- Serve hot, garnish each bowl with cilantro and squeeze a few drops of lime juice.
If you don’t have aji panca, try using cayenne pepper or some achiote. Be sure to not overcook the fish by boiling or simmering for too long, the pieces of fish should remain whole when served.