Monday, March 14, 2011

Peruvian dishes: ceviche and papa rellenas

The best part about taking part in food blogging events is all the new things I am pushed to try. Take, for example, the Daring Cooks. Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau, and Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I have never made or eaten any Peruvian food before, but fortunately we have close friends who lived in Peru. They were very willing indeed to come over for dinner, assist in the assembly of the food, and comment on its authenticity.

Papa rellanas is a ground beef filling wrapped in mashed potato and fried until crispy. Kathlyn's recipe calls for deep frying. But that is forbidden in my kitchen, so I pan fried the papa rellenas. As a result, my little croquettes didn't hold much together upon application of a fork. The mashed potato and crumbs coating gave way easily to the slightly sweet, meaty interior. The beef is mixed with thinly sliced onions, raisins, and hard boiled eggs. Our friends declared the papa rellenas genuine in taste and said the filling was perfect. (There was some filling left over, which they said they would be happy to eat alone.)

Ceviche is made by covering very fresh fish with strong lime juice to "cook" it. In Peru it's made with white fish, but I tried it with salmon. The most important part is buying fish that is fresh enough that you can safely eat it raw. In Peru it's a lunch dish because the fish has just been caught in the morning. I was amazed that the salmon didn't taste at all raw. The fish was soft (and somehow substantial) and the lime juice and onions were tangy. The ceviche was wonderful enough for me to want to try making it again soon. It would be a lovely summer brunch dish.

The recipes are available on Kathlyn's blog, which I followed quite closely. Thank to Kathlyn for the inspiration to try something brand new to me! And thanks to our friends for their help and laughter with my first Peruvian meal.


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