For the adventurous, it’s the foods you DON’T eat, that cause indigestion. Peruvian food is jam-packed with fresh taste opportunities, and you won’t want to miss any of them. Check out our top recommendations for Peruvian food that you simply must try on your next visit.
Peruvian Food – The Greatest Hits
Ceviche is the national dish of Peru. You should think of ceviche as the Machu Picchu of Peruvian food. If you could only eat one thing in Peru, it would have to be ceviche. If you like seafood, you will love ceviche. We are total addicts. Basic ceviche is bite-size pieces of raw fish marinated in lime juice, with onion, aji chili pepper, and salt. The acidity of the marinade actually “cooks” the fish without heat. The end result is a delectable tenderness that retains all the freshness and robust flavors of the sea. Ceviche is mildly spicy and maximally delicious.
Ceviche is usually served as an appetizer, and that is a great choice. We also recommend having a large plate of ceviche as your entrée for lunch. You can even try a sampler of several varieties of ceviche. It is the perfect lunch if you have some more hiking or other physical activities to do in the afternoon. A big plate of ceviche will be refreshing and satisfying without making you sluggish.
Alpaca steak was the biggest surprise among Peruvian food, and is now our favorite meat of all time. If ceviche is the Machu Picchu of Peruvian food, alpaca meat would be the Nazca Lines. It is the most delicious meat that we’ve ever eaten, and many agree. Imagine the best filet mignon that you’ve ever had and double the savory goodness, triple the velvety tenderness, and quadruple the flavor – that’s alpaca! We may be overstating it a little, but not by much. It is also a very versatile meat. It is best fresh off the grill with some quinoa, but alpaca stroganoff is a delicious close second.
You may find this luscious dish very familiar. Lomo saltado is the Peruvian version of stir-fry. It comes from the influence of Chinese immigrants but has a distinctive Peruvian flair. It is strips of beef flambéd with tomatoes, onions and peppers. Lomo Saltado is served with fried potatoes or rice or both (our favorite). When you see a Peruvian chef properly prepare lomo Saltado, you’ll see why it’s hard to replicate at home.
Can you do that without burning down the house? All those flames give the dish a rich, smoky aroma and flavor. Lomo saltado is savory comfort food with a zesty Latin flavor. It is a perfect meal to cap off a long day of hiking around at high altitude.
Anticuchos are skewered meats that have been marinated and grilled. You can find a wide variety of chicken, pork, or beef anticuchos in restaurants and markets, and they are all tasty. The most popular among Peruvians is anticuchos de corazon, and they were our standout favorite as well.
Anticuchos de corazon are skewers of beef hearts that have been marinated in a garlicky sauce and grilled to perfection.
A wide variety of seafood is abundant all over Peru. If you’re like most visitors you will see Machu Picchu, and spend a lot of time in the south. And in the south, trout is king. Our favorite trout dish was surprisingly ceviche, which is usually made with white fish. The grilled trout in Peru is also amazing and should not be missed. The real key is the freshness. Trout is so abundant in Peru, that we doubt the fish we ate were more out of the water more than a few hours.
Pisco, a type of brandy, is the national drink of Peru. Pisco sour –pic- is the most common version, but variety is the name of the game with Pisco. As a brandy, Pisco is a high alcohol spirit made from distilling wine. Like wine, there are hundreds of distinct varieties that are derived from the various qualities of the different grapes. These Piscos can be savored individually, but our favorite way to enjoy Pisco was in one of the many cocktails.
There is even a museum dedicated to Pisco, the Museo del Pisco. There are now 2 locations: one in Cusco, the other in Arequipa. At the Museo del Pisco, they offer several different tasting flights, tastings with food pairing, and cocktail-making classes with master mixologists.
Cuy, which you might know as guinea pig, is the most distinctive and “exotic” element of Peruvian food. We weren’t wild about the flavor, but we definitely recommend trying it while you’re in Peru. We have a full post describing our guinea pig feast and explaining our recommendation of this unique cultural opportunity.So those are our top picks of “must have” Peruvian food. Of course, there are so many more amazing Peruvian dishes that worthy of trying, but these were the cream of the crop for us. Provecho!
Author: The Travel Ninjas
We are Vanessa Diaz and Steve Price - a happily married couple who donated all of our belongings in order to live our dream of living abroad and traveling the world. We are travelers, writers, adventurers, photographers and founders of www.TheTravelNinjas.com We want to inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and live a life of adventure, even if it's in your own backyard. We provide travel recommendations and practical travel advice to help you have the best experience during your travelsThis author has published 8 articles so far.