With Peruvian food gaining quite the reputation worldwide, trying as many of the delicious options as possible should be a big part of your trip. From fresh coastal delights and tropical jungle dishes, to warming and filling Andean fare, there is a lot on offer.
So, how do you choose which ones should make it to the top of your ‘to try’ list when visiting this vast and varied country? Well, don’t worry. We are here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the best of the best and the most popular with locals and visitors alike. Sit back and relax and let your mouth start to salivate as you enjoy this list of Peruvian cuisine.
This is THE plate of Peru, and it’s no wonder why. Made with fresh fish from the day, cooked in just lemon juice with a bit of chili, cilantro, and garlic, it’s mouth-wateringly tasty! It’s traditionally from the coast, but if you aren’t visiting that area and are only in Cusco, you’ll find some decent trout options, too.
You’ll find a huge variety of cevicherias all over the country that sell this favorite. We recommend trying it in a well-renowned establishment, however, to make sure the fish is fresh and of a good standard. The last thing you want on your vacation is to get sick.
Another favorite of the Peruvians and most tourists who visit. It has a slight Asian influence in the fact that it’s cooked like a stir fry and uses soy sauce. It’s a great fusion with Peruvian cuisine and really goes well with a beer on a hot day! Most restaurants across the country will sell this classic and if you’re a meat lover, you can’t go home without giving it a try.
Aji de Gallina
This creamy chicken dish is almost like a curry in a way. It’s made with yellow chili, cream, peanuts, and a few other ingredients that give it a unique taste. It comes with rice, potatoes, olives, and a boiled egg! Quite the combination to say the least. Again, it’s very easy to find in most restaurants in the cities.
Guinea Pig or Cuy
That little fur ball you had as a pet when you were 10 is a delicacy up in the Andes. Cooked in the oven with a traditional herb called ‘huacatay’, it comes served with baked noodles, a stuffed pepper, potatoes, and occasionally other staples.
You’ll see that a lot of places serve it up whole on a plate for the classic Instagram photo. But, many of them will whisk it away after and chop it up into more manageable pieces. If you don’t fancy a whole one on your plate or its little eyes staring up at you, there are places around town that offer smaller cuts and different presentations.
This is another very popular food with the inhabitants, especially in mountainous regions. It’s pork that is fried in its own fat, which creates for some seriously tasty pieces of pig. It’s traditionally served with fried potatoes, corn, and a salad of raw red onion and mint. It might sound like a strange combination, but it goes very well together.
If you’re in Cusco, you should head out into the Southern Valley to a small town called Saylla. It’s full of restaurants that specifically serve this dish and is the plate of the town. It’s the place to try it if you want a guaranteed good portion and tasty meal.
Some may think of this as a lighter option, perhaps for lunch. The portion size is a lot smaller than the other dishes mentioned, but this doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavour. An interesting combination of layers of mashed potato, chicken, mayonnaise, avocado, boiled egg, and a few other ingredients that make it very palatable. It’s served cold so is a great option on a warm sunny day with a beer if you’re by the beach.
This is a traditional dish from the jungle, and if you are heading there you should really give it a go. If you get the chance to make them, even better! You will need a ‘bijao’ leaf to wrap all the ingredients in before finishing it all off. It includes a lot of Peruvian diet staples from rice, chicken, and egg to turmeric and garlic. It sounds simple, but sometimes simplicity is the best recipe. This dish tastes amazing and is very unique.
Caldo de Gallina
If you think soup is just liquid that’s a light meal, then think again. Soups in Peru are big and hearty and the best and most delicious is caldo de gallina. A broth packed with chicken (bone and all), potatoes, egg, and other chunks. It varies from the coast, where they use noodles, to the mountains, where it’s made with rice. But, wherever you try it out, you’ll be blown away by the amount of flavour in the bowl. If you are wanting to try out a meal at a local market, this could be the one to go for.
So, try as many as you can!
Whether you are visiting for a week or a month, you should give as many dishes a try as you can while here. You need to experience for yourself why Peru is winning so many awards for its gastronomy. The unique flavours and ingredients that are only found here make for some really amazing foods that are enjoyed throughout the whole country, and now across the globe.
Happy Peruvian Gastronomy Day!!
Written by: Liv Palmer