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Arroz Chaufa

Arroz Chaufa

Arroz Chaufa

Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian cuisine) is Lima’s comfort food, and there are over 6,000 chifa restaurants in Lima today. Indentured workers from the Canton region of China arrived in Peru over 150 years ago. Over time they settled in Lima and formed the Barrio Chino, the city’s chinatown. Located next to mercado central, Lima’s central market, the cooks of Barrio Chino began using local ingredients to complement those they brought from China. They introduced ingredients like ginger, but in Peru we don’t call ginger by its Spanish name “gengibre,” rather Peruvians call it “kion,” after the phonetic pronunciation in Cantonese. Arroz chaufa is perhaps the most popular of all chifa dishes, and here Just Egg and Tofurky ham make the dish vegan. Pineapples are native to the tropics, including Peru, and add a hint of sweetness. Use day-old and refrigerated steamed white rice, it holds up better to pan-frying.

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Seco sin Carne

Seco sin Carne

Seco sin Carne

Spain’s colonial foodways brought new ingredients and dishes from Spain, Africa, and the Middle East to the Americas. According to culinary historians, Peru’s seco evolved from North African tagines, a predominantly vegetable stew spiced with coriander. Over time, creole cooks added native Peruvian ingredients such as potatoes and aji amarillo (yellow hot pepper). Here, plant-based Gardein Beefless Tips make the dish vegan.Traditional seco recipes call for dark beer, but because I like using local ingredients and I live in the Pacific Northwest, I chose a Portland IPA. In many ways, this plant-based seco is a gateway dish for cooks who love meat and potato recipes but aren’t sure how to cook them vegan. Spicy, comforting, and hearty this seco sin carne (seco without meat) pairs great with beer or red wine. Serve with a side of steamed rice to mop up the cilantro and beer stock juice.

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Arroz Criollo

Arroz Criollo

Arroz Criollo

Colonial foodways brought rice to Peru, and over time it’s become a staple in Lima’s creole cooking. Sometimes, plain steamed rice plays a supporting role in a meal as the side that mops up the juices from a spicy stew. Other times it’s the star, like in arroz chaufa—Chinese-Peruvian fried rice. In Lima, families cook and serve rice at least once a day as part of a meal. Their love for rice has earned Limeños (people from Lima) a proud nickname: Limeño arrocero. Steamed rice is the first dish that my mom taught me how to cook when I was about ten years old. Today, it’s hard for me to imagine a meal without rice. My favorite part is the con con, the crunchy, salty, and garlicky browned bits at the bottom of the pot that I scrape off at the end of a meal to enjoy blissfully.

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Palta Rellena

Palta Rellena

Palta Rellena

Avocado halves become small bowls for the savory, creamy, and crunchy filling in this traditional piqueo (small bite). Avocados are originally from Mexico, where they are called “aguacate.” Mexico’s colonial-era cooks stuffed them with animal protein, cheese, or salads. Colonial foodways carried the avocado outside of Mexico making stuffed avocados popular throughout the tropical food cultures of South America, the Caribbean, and West Africa. They are also ubiquitous in the Cajun cuisine of New Orleans and Louisiana. In Peru, we call avocado “palta,” after a tribe in the northern part of the Inca empire that cultivated the fruit. Contemporary recipes call for a seafood or canned tuna salad for the stuffing. Here, using mashed canned chickpea instead of flaky tuna makes the dish vegan while also providing protein. Chopped parsley will work as a substitute for the dill’s aromatics. And a squeeze of lime juice will brighten the dish.

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Tacu Tacu

Tacu Tacu

Tacu Tacu

Colonial-era Afro-descendant women fried leftover rice and canary beans with lard to make tacu tacu, a dish whose name comes from the Quechua word “taku,” which means “mixed.” This is a brunch dish that I learned to cook from my father, and that my father learned to cook from my grandfather. So tacu tacu connects three generations of dads. Today, tacu tacu is part of Peru’s creole cuisine, and there are many variations. I often cook tacu tacu with leftover long-grain white rice and red lentils. I like how the creaminess of the soft cooked lentils holds the rice together. A simple red onion base with aji amarillo adds heat. Pan frying and shaping it into a round cake makes it easy to slice into individual servings. Pickled red onions complement the flavors in the tacu tacu, while coffee and baguette make it a full savory breakfast.

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