Got a passion for Peruvian food? Let Garden’s expert team teach you all you need to know…
When Good teamed up with Garden for a Flavours of Peru masterclass last month, all eyes were on head chef Edgar Hurtado, whose passionate practical class left us craving some ceviche. From South America’s essential flavours to the fundamentals of spicing, Edgar’s knowledge of his native cuisine is second-to-none, and thankfully so are his levels of patience with amateurs like ourselves. Here, he shares his signature ceviche recipe, as well as his thoughts on mastering perfectly seasoned seafood in the comfort of your own home.
For the leche de tigre
155ml fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon packed fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 ají limo, seeded
1/2 small red onion, chopped
For the ceviche
1 small sweet potato (about 225g)
1 ear of corn, husked
1 ají limo, halved lengthwise
450g fluke, flounder or sole, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
Coriander leaves, to finish
1) First, make the leche de tigre. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl. Mix the lime juice, garlic, coriander, aji and four large ice cubes in a blender, then blend until smooth. Add the onion and pulse three or four times, then strain the liquid into your bowl, season with salt, cover and chill until needed. 2) For the ceviche, pour an inch of water into a large pot fitted with a steamer basket and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potato, cover and cook until just fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer it to a plate and allow to cool. 3) Meanwhile, add more water to the same pot, if needed, to a one-inch depth. Bring to a boil then add the ear of corn and steam until it’s crisp but tender, around two to three minutes. Transfer it to a plate and allow to cool completely. 4) Rub a large bowl with the cut sides of the chilli then discard. Place the fish, 2/3 of the onion, the leche de Tigre and four large ice cubes in a bowl and stir well. Leave it to marinate for two minutes then remove the ice, fold in the potato and corn and season with salt. 5) Using a slotted spoon, divide the ceviche into small bowls or onto plates. Drizzle with leche de Tigre then garnish with the remaining onion and coriander.
Five minutes with chef Edgar Hurtado
Where do you get your inspiration for your dishes?
From life, from experiences with other chefs and from the memories made along the journey. I truly believe that inspiration comes from within. Yes, it can be triggered by a certain aroma or vision, but ultimately, it comes from within you. Whether or not it is something you interpret or something you have created from scratch, it’s the passion from inside that makes the difference.
What flavours sum up Peruvian food for you?
Peruvian cuisine basically consists of the traditional staples of corn and potatoes, and other tubers and grains like quinoa and kiwicha. Add to that the foreign influences on the country from Europe (Spanish, Italian, and German cuisine), Asia, (such as Chinese Chifa and Japanese Nikkei cuisine) and West Africa and you can see how immigrants modified their traditional cuisines by using ingredients native to Peru, resulting in the cooking we see today.
What simple Peruvian at home ingredients or dishes would be best to start with and why?
Many of the key ingredients of Peruvian food are unique and not readily available outside of Peru. There are a few substitutions that work pretty well. Brazilian limes are a good example of an ingredient that you can use to make lovely ceviches.
What store cupboard items could you not live without?
Peruvian ajís — these are among the most basic building blocks of much of our Peruvian cuisine, and you will need to find some if you want to cook most Peruvian staples. Fresh ajís are best, but each is different so don’t try to substitute one for another.
If you could only eat one dish from your menu, which would it be and why?
Clasico ceviche. I was born in Lima near the ports of Peru, I grew up eating ceviches and it’s a staple I will always crave. It’s something that defines my childhood. I always try to come up with new ceviche creations, to honour the place where I grew up.
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