Peru

Trending Now: Aquafaba (Liquid From Cooked Chickpeas)

My first attempt at making a chickpea curry was a disaster. At the end of the evening, my aunt gently reminded me to pre-soak the beans before cooking them. Ever since that rock-hard-chickpea incident, I’ve resorted to using canned cooked chickpeas, and generating a lot of discarded liquid in the process. Until now. Aquafaba, the residual liquor from cooking chickpeas, works perfectly as an egg substitute – a boon to those with an egg allergy or a vegan with a sweet tooth.

Aquafaba, from the Latin aqua (water) and faba (bean), is a more attractive name to give the liquid from a legume. This viscous amber-colored liquid is rich in starch and protein plant material that is drawn out from the legume during cooking. Aquafaba whisks into a binding agent for use in cakes or froths up as foam in drinks. Its neutral flavor doesn’t compete with other ingredients when substituted for eggs in mayonnaise or meringue. Goose Wohlt, an American software engineer, is widely recognized as the person responsible for both the name and making the first stable vegan meringue in 2015.

Aquafaba can be made from canned chickpeas. However, using dried chickpeas eliminates the added salt and preservatives found in the canned version.

Aquafaba

Dried chickpeas – 2 cups

Salt – 1 tsp

  • Wash the dried chickpeas with several changes of fresh water.
  • Drain in a colander.
  • In a fresh bowl, add the chickpeas, 6 cups of water, and salt. Leave it to soak overnight or for about 13-15 hours.
  • Pour the contents of the bowl into a cooking pan.
  • Boil the chickpeas for 1¼ – 1½ hours. Check the chickpeas halfway into cooking time for the frothy scum that rises to the top. Using a spoon and in one continuous motion, scoop out as much of the froth as possible.
  • Chickpeas are ready when they have no crunch but are firm to the touch.
  • Strain the chickpeas, reserving both the chickpeas and golden-colored liquid or aquafaba.

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One of my new favorite drinks is the Peruvian Pisco Sour – but the cocktail was hard to make for a large holiday party. It would have been a challenge to separate so many eggs and keep the egg whites at an optimal temperature. Substituting aquafaba for egg whites addresses these concerns, and is suitable to serve both vegans and worriers (regarding raw eggs) alike. Cheers!

Pisco Sour

Pisco – 3 oz

Aquafaba – 2 tbsp

Simple syrup – 2 ½ -3 tbsp (depending on taste)

Lime juice – 4 tbsp

Crushed ice – ¾ – 1 tbsp

Angostura Bitters – 2-3 drops (optional)

  • Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  • Add the crushed ice. Shake vigorously.
  • Pour in thirds (to create as much foam as possible) into a short glass. Serve immediately.

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Note: Use the cooked chickpeas to make a simple Italian appetizer with garlic and chili powder, chickpea curry, or process into a smooth hummus.

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Lomo Saltado With Quinoa “Fries”

As last week’s waffalosa turned out well, I thought that I would use the waffle iron for one more experimental twist on a classic recipe. One of my favorite dishes from Peru is Lomo Saltado, a meal that blends two cultures in one pot.

Lomo saltado is a stir-fry dish created by Chinese immigrants in Peru, combining sliced beef and soy sauce with Peruvian ingredients such as hot aji and sweet bell peppers. The sauce and juices from the meat seep into the fries and the steaming cup of rice that usually accompany the meal. Replacing the fries with quinoa “fries” keeps both traditional ingredients and the intent of the original dish intact. The accompaniments are meant to soak up the sauce, and the quinoa version accomplishes this just as well. Additionally, making the quinoa “fries” in a waffle iron is a healthier alternative to frying, while still retaining the crisp and crunch of regular fries.

Quinoa flour is the base for the waffle batter. As I couldn’t find quinoa flour in the large grocery stores, I ended up buying whole quinoa in the bulk produce section. I dry-toasted the grain first, following steps that I had learned from my mother, before blending small batches in the blender. Dry-toasting whole seeds removes the grain’s moisture and keeps the milled or blended flour fresh for longer. It also prevents pesky bugs from settling into the ground flour.

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Quinoa “Fries”

Quinoa – 2 cups

Eggs – 2, lightly beaten

Milk – 1 cup, warmed

Butter – 1 ½ tbsp, room temperature

Baking powder – 1 ½ tsp

  • Heat a wok or pan to high heat. Add the whole quinoa and dry-toast it, tossing lightly with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring, until the quinoa seeds are hot to the touch. Remove and let the quinoa grains cool.
  • In a blender, add ¾ cup of the toasted quinoa. Blend, intermittently tapping the sides of the blender, so that all the grains are mixed equally for fine flour. Remove and add a new batch, and repeat until all the quinoa grain is ground into flour.
  • Keep aside until it is cool. Sieve the flour.
  • Add baking powder to the flour and mix together.
  • Mix the eggs, milk, and butter together.
  • Combine the egg mixture with the flour. Add water to get to a pouring consistency.
  • Heat the waffle iron according to the instructions.
  • When the waffle iron is ready, pour the batter over the pan, until is completely covered.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove and let the quinoa waffle cool. Cut the quinoa waffle along the lines into three strips. Make as many waffles for the “fries” as needed. Keep aside.

Lomo Saltado

Beef tenderloin – 1 lb, cut into thin strips

Oil – 2 tbsp

Red onion – 1 medium, cut finely lengthwise

Garlic cloves – 5, finely chopped

Chili – 3, sliced lengthwise (de-seeded if you don’t want the chili heat)

Red bell pepper – 1, cut into thin strips

Oregano – 1 ½ tsp

Tomato – 1 medium, cut into chunks

Soy sauce (light) – 2-2½ tbsp

White wine vinegar – 1 tbsp

Parsley – 2 sprigs

Salt and pepper – to taste

  • Heat the oil in a wok
  • Add the beef strips and stir-fry for a minute, until browned all over. Remove and keep aside in a bowl.
  • In the same oil, add the onion slices and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until they are transparent.
  • Add the garlic, half the red bell pepper strips, oregano, chili pepper, and tomatoes.
  • Add the soy sauce and white vinegar, and mix.
  • Sauté for about 3 minutes, until the bell peppers lose their crunch.
  • Add back the meat and the juice from the pan and heat through.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with parsley and remaining red pepper strips.
  • Tuck the quinoa “fries” under the meat and vegetables. Serve immediately.

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Salsa Criolla And Chimichurri: Fireworks And Spicy Condiments

I was caught off guard when two familiar flavors landed at my table through an unexpected intersection of food cultures. I was instantly transported to two of my mother’s Sunday specials – a lunch featuring fried rice with an accompaniment made of raw red onions, green chili, and vinegar and dosa (rice pancake) with cilantro (coriander leaves) chutney. However, this time, I wasn’t in India, but in Peru – eating the same onion salsa-like combination paired river trout ceviche and a creamy cilantro sauce with roasted chicken.

The connections made through ancient trade routes seemed to have culminated on my table: The exchange of ingredients and preparation styles link us together more than we might expect. In both countries, the condiments combine the crisp piquancy of red onions with the heat and color from the varieties of chilies, and rounded out by the herbal notes of cilantro in almost identical ways. In Peru, I also found a new twist on the classic chimichurri from neighboring Argentina. This parsley-based condiment is a welcome addition to my list of accompaniments for the upcoming holiday weekend. Instead of its usual topping for grilled flank steaks, chimichurri can double as a dipping sauce for chunky slices of bread – exactly how it was served in Peru.

These condiments can be made ahead, and are quick and easy accompaniments to barbecue dishes. Happy July 4th!

Salsa Criolla

Red onion – ½, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Aji chili – 1, cut into rounds

Lime – 1, juice

Salt – ¼ tsp

  • Mix the oil, lime juice, chili, and salt together. Keep aside up to couple of hours ahead of when needed.
  • Just before serving, add the sliced onions to the mixture. Toss until the oil-lime juice mixture coats the onions well.

Note: Substitute aji with serrano or jalapeno, but use caution when handling chili. Remove the seeds to lessen the spicy heat.

Chimichurri

Parsley (fresh) – ¾ cup, chopped

Shallot – 1, finely chopped

Serrano (jalapeno) – 1, finely sliced

Garlic cloves – 3, finely sliced

Red wine vinegar – ½ cup

Olive oil – ¼ cup

Oregano – ¼ tsp

Salt (kosher) – ¼ tsp

Pepper – ½ tsp

 

  • Mix together the chopped parsley, shallots, serrano chili, and garlic.
  • Shake the red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper well before adding to the parsley mixture.
  • Chimichurri can stay refrigerated for 1-2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Note: If you enjoy the flavor of cilantro, replace a ¼ cup of parsley with cilantro.

 

 

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Quinoa Soup

Summer isn’t typically the time for a warm, hearty soup, but inspired by a trip to Peru, I couldn’t wait to recreate my experience of eating quinoa as soup! Quinoa has been known as a superfood from Incan times, and is enjoying a resurgence both as a salad and as a filling main dish. As sopa de quinua, the cooked grain imperceptibly blends with vegetables to give the soup its rich and creamy consistency.

The texture of the soup immediately reminded me of another favorite, leek and potato soup. Quinoa cooks just as easily as a potato, and also absorbs the onion-flavor of leeks. The soup has a porridge-like consistency when processed in a blender, and can be thinned out by adding more stock. Peruvian cooks add other vegetables, such as squash and carrots, along with leeks.

Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is noted for its abundant nutritional benefits and as a source of gluten-free, dietary fiber. Quinoa is actually a seed and not a grain. In Peru, where it grows in the Andean mountains, quinoa is referred to as the “mother of all grains” due to its versatility. Quinoa is available in red, white, or black varieties.

Quinoa Soup

Quinoa – 1 cup, rinsed under cool water

Leeks – 2, cleaned and chopped

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Butter – 1 tbsp

Stock (vegetable or chicken) – 2½ cups

  • Heat the oil and butter together in a large pan.
  • Add the chopped leeks to the melted butter.
  • Sauté the leeks for about five minutes, until they are soft.
  • Add the quinoa. Stir-fry for a minute, until well coated with the butter-oil mixture and leeks.
  • Add the stock to the quinoa. Bring the liquid to a boil
  • Turn down the heat, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked and soft.
  • Blend the quinoa-leek mixture in a blender until smooth.
  • Add more stock to thin out the soup. Serve hot.

Note: Add a dash of Peruvian Madre Selva or your favorite hot sauce.