Due to the richness and culinary fusion in Peruvian cuisine, it is sometimes difficult to understand Gaston & Astrid’s proposals. We have therefore prepared a glossary of terms, a first lesson into Peruvian gastronomy, to wet your appetite and facilitate your selection from the menu.
Aceituna de botija: A variety of black olive, medium or large in size with a purple coloured meaty flesh. They are the principal ingredient in the seafood dish pulpo al olivo (octopus with olive), as well being used to garnish dishes such as papa a la huancaina, aji de gallina amongst others
Ají: The unarguable protagonist in the Peruvian kitchen. This hot pepper, which degree of hotness varies according to the variety, is one of the pillars of Peruvian cooking and isn’t only present in dressings but is also the base of an infinity of flavoursome sauces such and huancaina and Creole sauces.
Ají Amarillo: One of the most commonly used hot peppers in Peruvian cooking. This fairly hot long finger shaped pepper is orange in colour. It is frequently used as the base for many typical Peruvian dishes such as aji de gallina, tiradito, escabeche and causa.
Ají limo: A medium-sized hot pepper that comes in a variety of colours ranging from yellow and red to green or purple. Very aromatic and extremely hot, it is a fundamental ingredient in the preparation of Peruvian cebiche and due to its colour is often used for decorative purposes.
Ají Panca: A dark reddish coloured hot pepper, slightly less hot than ají amarillo, but very flavoursome. It is generally used in its dried form in stews.
Anticucho: Brochettes traditionally made from beef hearts that are first marinated and then grilled. They are served with choclo (white corn kernels), potatoes and an ají based sauce. Modernised versions of anticucho are made from meat, poultry, fish and shellfish.
Camote: Sweet potato, which once cooked, has an orange coloured smooth, sweet flesh. It is the key ingredient in the preparation of typical recipes such as picarones. It can also be served fried and as an accompaniment to sanguche de chicharron.
Causa: A cold dish which is prepared using smooth seasoned mashed potato with aji, lemon juice, oil and salt. It is served with different accompaniments or fillings which could include vegetables, meat, fish and shellfish as well as mayonnaise.
Cebiche: The fundamental cold dish of any Peruvian restaurant. Its principal ingredients include fish and other seafood, lime juice, red onion and aji.
Choclo: Large fresh sweetcorn kernels. Choclo is the principal ingredient of Humitas (steamed corncakes) and other dishes such as the pastel de choclo and pepian.
Chorrillana: A seasoned sauce made from a red onion, tomato, yellow aji pepper base that is usually used to prepared fish, although it can also be used with other meats.
Chupe: A filling and flavoursome chowder which can include amongst other things meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetables of every type, eggs, tubers, cheese, milk and aromatic herbs. One of the most exquisite variations is chupe de camarones (crayfish soup) a typical dish from Arequipa.
Huacatay: An aromatic herb indigenous to South America that has a very particular smell and flavour, and for this reason it is used moderately.
Leche de tigre: This is the liquid remaining after preparing cerviche to which Aji and a splash of pisco (or other types of alcohol eg vodka or white wine) is added. It is served in small shot glasses. According to tradition it contains invigorating and aphrodisiac properties.
Lomo saltado: A Creole Peruvian that dish with chifa or Chinese/Peruvian influences, consisting of strips of beef fillet, onion, and aji stir fried and seasoned, and served with a generous garnish of fried potatoes. It is accompanied by simple white rice or rice with corn.
Lucuma: A very sweet fruit that grows in the valleys of the Peruvian Andes. Its pulp has an unusual flavour and a slightly grainy texture. It can be consumed fresh and also dried and grinded to powder. Lucuma is a very flavoursome fruit and ideal for use in desserts, ice cream, drinks and cocktails.
Manjar blanco: This creamy dulce de leche is made from heating milk and sugar together. It can be consumed either alone or used as an ingredient in numerous desserts.
Pachamanca: This culinary process has been named National Cultural Heritage by the National Institute of Cultura (INC) in Peru. The name literally means “terracotta cooking pot” and is a method of cooking in an earthenware pot placed in the ground, using the heat of stones that have been heated with hot wine. It can contain meat, beef, pork or lamb – seasoned with aromatic Andean herbs, tubers, a variety of vegetables, steamed corn cakes, cheese and even fruit.
Picarones: Fritters fried in the shape of ring donuts. The dough is prepared with flour, sweet potato, pumpkin and spices. They are served covered with chanca honey and they are one of the most popular Peruvian Creole sweets.
Rocoto: A fiercely hot red chilli pepper similar in shape to the regular red pepper that is used in typical Peruvian cooking. It is the fundamental ingredient in recipes such as Rocoto relleno (stuffed rocoto) and is used for preparing different sauces and dressings.
Solterito: A cold bean salad from Arequipa with white corn kernels, fresh cheese, onion, tomato and rocoto pepper amongst other ingredients. It is dressed with oil and vinegar.
Sudado: A juicy and filling dish, prepared by simmering together over a gentle heat fresh fish, onion, vegetables, aromatic herbs and spices in a well covered pan.
Suspiro limeño: This dessert is made from milk, sugar and egg yolks and served in glasses. It is topped with uncooked meringue made from egg whites and flavoured with port syrup.
Tacu Tacu: A Creole dish which is a mixture of rice and cooked beans, combined together in a frying pan to give it a crunchy texture. It can be served alone or accompanied by meat and a fried egg – el tacu taco montado – prawn or shellfish based sauces, amongst other accompaniments.
Tiraditos: Fresh fish sliced lengthwise in thin strips – similar to sashimi – which is then seasoned with lime and creams containing aji, rocoto pepper and onion amongst other ingredients. It is served accompanied by corn kernels and cooked sweet potato.
Yuca: An edible tuber which grows in the jungle. Once cooked its texture is slightly grainy. It is prepared in a similar way to potatoes and can be eaten fried, in croquettes, as a puree, as chips or boiled, as well as a garnish to accompany various meat, fish and shellfish dishes.