What’s cooking in Peru?
Papa a la Huancaina
Vanessa is from Arequipa in Peru. Arequipa is in the south of the country and lies at 2335 meters altitude. It is a big city and, in its surroundings, there is a volcano, and also the beach. Since the city is so big and widespread, it still takes Vanessa 2 hours to go from where her family lives to the beach, even though it’s in the same town. Vanessa has been living in Switzerland for years already. She came to Geneva for the adventure of travelling and to learn French. When she was just about to move back to Peru, she met her Swiss husband, and so she stayed… Vanessa likes it here, but does miss Peru. With her family, she travels to Peru every year and a half to spend time with her family. It is a long journey though, since they also need to take a plane to the south it takes them about a full day to travel there.
About Peru and its cuisine
Vanessa says that even as a Peruvian, she is amazed by the beauty of her country. There’s a certain energy you can feel in the atmosphere when looking at the beautiful landscapes, historic sites, and smiling people. She sees Peruvian people as positive. Even the ones that really don’t have much, still smile. Sometimes she is a bit saddened when she sees people that have so little, like elderly people that still work at the age of 80, pushing a char in the streets to sell things they made and to still provide for their family even though at their age, they should be resting. With their children they sometimes go and distribute gifts in areas where people don’t have much. When they drive up with their car filled with gifts the children come from everywhere to get their gift, and they look so happy.
Peruvian food is healthy and the choice of traditional dishes is amazing. Vanessa’s mom didn’t cook so much traditional dishes when Vanessa was younger, as Peruvian dishes take a lot of time to prepare. When in Peru, Vanessa made her children taste a Ceviche and her son loved that so much that her mom taught Vanessa how to make it. For almost all Peruvian dishes, Vanessa needs a special Peruvian pepper called Aji Amarillo, which you can only buy in specialized stores. The store in Geneva where she buys it is called America Market and is located on the Rue de Neuchatel.
Vanessa says I really have to taste Pisco Sour once, which is a traditional alcoholic drink from Peru!
Today we will make a Peruvian starter called Papa a la Huancaina, a traditional dish in Peru that consists of boiled potatoes and eggs, covered with a spicy and creamy yellow sauce.
Papa a la Huancaina recipe:
Cooking time: about 25 minutes. Sauce rests in the fridge for a bit.
Ingredients for 4 persons, as a starter:
- 6 big potatoes
- 3 Aji Amarillo (Peruvian peppers).
- Olive oil
- Half of an onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, cut into pieces
- 1 pack of Feta cheese, 200 gr, to replace a Peruvian cheese that she cannot find in Europe.
- Plain biscuits, that will be added to the sauce to reduce the spiciness
- 200 ml of milk
- 4 Eggs
- Half a salad
- Some black olives
How to proceed:
- Peel your potatoes and cook them.
- Boil your eggs (hard boiled).
- Take off the membranes of your Aji Amarillo peppers.
- Fry your chopped onion a bit in olive oil.
- Add your garlic, and your Aji Amarillo peppers, fry it all a bit more.
- Once it is nicely browned, add it to your mixer.
- Add 200 gr of Feta cheese to the mixer.
- Add 5 biscuits (plain salted biscuits), 200 ml of milk, and a bit of salt.
- Mix it all up. Vanessa makes approx. 500 ml of sauce, the sauce stays a bit liquid. If you want more dense, you can add more biscuits.
- Leave the sauce to rest in the fridge for a bit so that it thickens.
- In the meanwhile you wash off your salad and dry the leaves with kitchen paper.
- Slice your cooked potatoes in big slices.
- Slice your boiled eggs.
- You can now assemble your dish by putting a few salad leaves on the plate, then some slices of potatoes and eggs. You then top it with your yellow sauce and add some olives for decoration.
Thank you Vanessa! Papa a la Huancaina is delicious and easy to make! We will definitely make it more often in our home!