I went to Argentina, and I fell in love with Peruvian food. I loved the Argentinian food too, the sweetbreads particularly and the empanadas, especially those gorgeous beef ones from Mendoza. I have long been a fan of chimmichurri with steak, although, controversially, I like to make mine with fresh herbs.I prefer the fresher flavour and softer texture.

The Peruvian food though, that was a revelation. I have been interested in Peruvian food for a while, and bought a number of Peruvian food ingredients when I visited Florida in February. Then my interest was piqued further when Astrid Y Gaston in Lima was selected for the Worlds 50 Best list (I tried the tasting menu at their Buenos Aires branch recently – more on that later). Then I met Martin, a Peruvian entrepreneur in London opening a Ceviche and Pisco bar in London later this year.

It seems Peruvian food is in, and I can absolutely understand why. I just wonder why it took so long?!

I arrived back in London last week obsessed and craving many things, but especially the food that I had at a particular restaurant in Buenos Aires, Sipan. Argentinians love sushi, and they love ceviche,  so hybrid Japaanese-Peruvian restaurants have mushroomed. It sounds like an awful fusion concept but, surprisingly, it really works, and most serve terrific and very fresh sushi and ceviche.

My favourite dish at Sipan was a salmon ceviche with passion fruit. I say ceviche it was more a take on salmon sashimi with a passion fruit sauce poured over it. Ceviche is fish that is allowed to “cook” in citrus for 15 – 20 minutes, so I decided to take those flavours and do a more traditional ceviche at home.

Note on the ingredients: One of the Peruvian products I brought back from the US is called Aji Amarillo, a very fruity and sweet bright yellow chilli, mine was pureed and jarred. It has a unique flavour, almost slightly charred and very sweet and fruity. I love it and have been using it everywhere. You can source it online, but do substitute with fresh chopped chilli if you need to.

Recipe: Passion Fruit & Lime Salmon Ceviche

400g salmon fillet, skin removed and cut into thin slices or strips
2 passion fruits, halved with fruit scooped out and passed through a sieve
juice of 2 limes
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
coriander
2 tsp aji amarillo or 1 fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
half red onion sliced

Combine the lime, sieved passion fruit, garlic and aji amarillo. Add to the salmon and make sure the salmon is coated thoroughly. Cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and serve with the coriander and red onion.
Eat immediately and enjoy!

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Niamh

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