Shrimp and Carrot Salad, Ají-Soy-Limón Dressing

Peruvian Shrimp and Carrot Salad, Aji Amarillo Soy Limon Dressing

Shrimp and Carrot Salad
Okra, Cherry Tomato, Red Onion, Caperberry, Feta, Nasturtium
Ají Amarillo Soy Limón Dressing

Colorful baby carrots and my tree bursting with key limes became the source of inspiration for this sprightly salad. Carrots and limes have a curious affinity for one another. Key limes, called limones in Peru are used extensively in Peruvian cuisine. I mix the lime juice with ají amarillo paste and soy sauce to make the refreshing dressing. Ají amarillo, a yellow-orange Peruvian chile pepper is simultaneously spicy and fruity. Just a couple teaspoons of the paste gives the dressing its zing and along with the shrimp and carrots paired with feta, okra, onion, and tomatoes – the result is a really zesty salad with piquant Peruvian flair.

Peruvian Shrimp and Carrot Salad Recipe

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ensalada de papas a la huancaina (peruvian-style salad with potato cake, egg, and yellow chile)

ensalada de papas a la huancaina (peruvian-style salad with potato cake, egg, and yellow chile)
ensalada de papas a la huancaina

peruvian-style salad with walnut, olive, feta, lime
yellow potato cake with aji amarillo, cilantro
poached egg, huancaina sauce

Starting with some yellow-yellow potatoes I set out to put a new twist on the Peruvian Papas a la Huancaina, a classic potato dish with a spicy cream sauce from the city of Huancayo. The sauce is traditionally made with evaporated milk and vegetable oil, here I lighten the recipe by using non-fat Greek yogurt instead. Rather than slice, I form the potatoes into a cake flavored with the hot fruity aji amarillo paste – and I replace the usual hard-boiled egg garnish with one that is poached taking this from a side dish or first course into a main vegetarian meal.

ensalada de papas a la huancaina recipe

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Aguadito de Pavo (The Best Use of Leftover Turkey)

how to make aguadito de pavo, aguadito, peruvian turkey and rice soup

Aguadito de Pavo
Peruvian Turkey & Rice Soup

The best use of leftover turkey? This is it. A vibrant spicy soup which utilizes the leftover turkey meat and well as the stock made from simmering the carcass for hours. And if your guests have overindulged, this soup is said to levanta muertos (raise the dead) and assist in carrying the revelry into the holiday weekend. Made with Pisco (a Peruvian Brandy) and spicy/fruity/yellow aji amarillo paste, its unique flavors pair with the nourishing and reviving vegetables, and just enough turkey to keep us in the holiday spirit…we’re not tired of the bird yet!

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Good Idea: Aji de Gallina Salad

Aji de Gallina Salad
Key Lime Cumin Vinaigrette

What to do with flavorful left-over ingredients from the Classic Peruvian dish Aji de Gallina? Ingredients such as sliced chicken breast, aji de gallina sauce, hard-boiled quail egg, walnut, alphonso olive, shaved Parmesan, aji amarillo pepper, and diced potato? Add butter lettuce and a key lime cumin vinaigrette to make a fabulous Peruvian salad!

Aji de Gallina Salad. It is just perfect for dinner during this record setting heat wave upon us here in Southern California. To prepare this composed salad, arrange butter lettuce on a plate, top with the chilled left-over ingredients from the aji de gallina dish. Drizzle key lime cumin vinaigrette over entire salad. Spoon aji mayonnaise over the chicken breast. Garnish with thinly sliced aji amarillo pepper and chopped parsley.

Key Lime Cumin Vinaigrette
Combine one part fresh key lime juice with 3 parts olive oil in a small jar.
Add a minced shallot, about 1/4 t. ground cumin, salt & pepper to taste.
Shake well.

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Lunch at La Mar

La Mar Cebichería Peruana has as its main mission “attaining that all who visit discover, enjoy and forever make their own the marvelous invention that is Peruvian cuisine, created throughout the past 5,000 years” with locations in Lima, Peru and San Francisco, California…and soon to open in Mexico City and Santiago, Chile.

La Mar San Francisco is located at Pier 1 1/2 on The Embarcadero in an amazing space with soaring ceilings, full of light, and views of the San Francisco Bay.

Have you tried a pisco sour, the quintessence of a Peruvian cocktail?
  • 2 oz pisco brandy
  • 1 oz key lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1 dash Angostura® bitters
Shake ingredients vigorously with ice, strain, and garnish with bitters. Pisco is made by distilling 100% fermented grape juice in copper pot stills. It is a method developed by Spanish settlers in Peru over 400 years ago.

You can sample pisco flights at the bar. How does one describe pisco? Unique, rich, clean, lush, fruity, tangy, crisp, smooth, nutty, spicy, grappa-y… I would love to hear how you interpret the taste of pisco brandies.

Cebiche Criollo: Baja California yellowtail, mussels, calamari, scallops in a spicy aji rocoto leche de tigre with habenero, cancha, red onion, Peruvian corn and yam. Very spicy (that’s a habanero ring as garnish) and very flavorful!

Tamalito Verde: Fresh Peruvian corn cilantro tamale with red onion and lime juice.

Causa: Whipped purple potato with avocado puree and aji amarillo sauce.

Cordero: Braised lamb shank, mashed rice and bean tacu tacu.

Some other dishes we enjoyed included…
Chorillana: Roasted red snapper, mashed yucca, tamarind, red onion and tomato sauce.
Lomo Saltado: Traditional stir-fry of sautéed beef tenderloin, onions. tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, aji amarillo with fried potatoes.
Arroz: Peruvian style vegetable risotto.

The desserts were excellent too. I love the china in which they serve their sunken crème brûlée over purple corn compote.

And these little orange glazed chocolate beignets were a hit as well…If you are in San Francisco, we highly recommend La Mar for its interesting and fresh Peruvian menu, both classic and modern dishes, its breathtaking colorful space, and engaging knowledgeable staff.
When we dine out, we love to share. With so many interesting dishes and new flavors, we had to put all the dishes in the middle of the table. In fact, we started out at a table for four, but had to move to a bigger table so we had room for all the plates. How about you, do you prefer to savor your own dish or would you rather try them all?

Fried Oyster Taco, Ají Amarillo Crema

Panko crusted Hama Hama Oysters from the Hood Canal in Washington State, quickly fried in canola oil served on a handmade corn tortilla with napa cabbage, sliced serrano chile, cilantro, ají amarillo crema, and a squeeze of lime.

One of life’s small pleasures is a fresh homemade tortilla. Buy tortilla masa from the refrigerated section. Knead the masa until it is soft and pliable, then form a ball. Place the masa ball between plastic wrap on the tortilla press, then firmly close the press. Lay dough on a hot heavy skillet for about 30 seconds per side.

For a change from the now ubiquitous chipotle cream sauce try making a sauce with chiles from Peru. Ají amarillo is one of my favorites, it is a lovely yellow color, quite hot but with a slightly fruity extraordinary flavor. You can buy ají amarillo paste in a jar (middle right). Mix the paste with Crema Mexicana or sour cream. I find it in the Peruvian section at my local supermercado.

¡Feliz  Cinco De Mayo!