Soy-cured egg yolk and quinoa—Ceviche Nikkei—a Japanese-influenced Peruvian dish at China Chilcano (Photo: Farrah Skeiky)
There’s a reason you might be smelling soy sauce and potatoes in the air. As the landscape of ethnic cuisines continues to widen in the Washington area, there’s more room for the unexpected. And when it comes to unexpected, Peruvian cooking takes the cake (or, the custard).
The nation’s food reflects the ultimate multicultural melting pot, in which regional cooking combined with those brought by settlers from around the globe. Chifa is a seamless blend of Chinese and Peruvian food; nikkei draws from Japanese traditions and techniques; and criollo describes the long-established mix of African, Spanish, and home-style Peruvian cooking.
The fusion can sometimes create confusion: What makes the unlikely combination of hoisin sauce, cucumbers, and tomatoes work? Why cook potatoes in a wok? What’s Peruvian about soy-cured egg yolks and jicama? The mix of culinary perspectives and cultures finds common ground by using ingredients from Peru: quinoa, potatoes, corn, peppers, and more. And the results are delicious.
Carlos Delgado, head chef at China Chilcano by José Andrés, sheds light on the history and flavors of Peruvian cuisine in a conversation with Joe Yonan, Washington Post food and dining editor.
International variations on crème caramel abound, and the recipe for Peru’s version contains a unique ingredient with an Incan heritage: quinoa. Try your hand at making crema volteada.
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