Incan food fit for the gods
Comida peruano descends from the culture and history of the Incas, and incorporates indigenous ingredients. Quinoa is an ancient grain known as the “Mother Grain” to the Incas. It’s used in soups, salads, desserts and drinks. It’s packed with protein. It’s believed that the potato originated in Peru. There are 110 varieties. Ceviche, the raw seafood dish marinated in lime or lemon juice, is considered the national dish.
No need to climb the Andes to sample Peruvian fare, however. Better to hop the highway to Mesa, and Rincón Peruano at 120 S. Alma School Road. This restaurant serves a lunch buffet ($7.95) and a dinner menu.
The buffet features a spread that includes arroz con mariscos, which is like paella, but not so rich. Another item is seco de cabra – slowly simmered goat marinated in orange, vinegar, and spices. Tallarín de pollo is another attraction – chunks of chicken with potatoes. Lomo saltado features beet sautéed with potatoes, onions, and tomatoes. There’s chichi morada, or purple corn drink, or pass fruit juice to wash things down.
The dinner menu lists ceviche de mariscos ($11.85); jalea ($14.85), which is breaded, fried fish and seafood served with fried banana and cassava; parihuela ($13.95), a delicious seafood soup; and tallarines verdes ($10.95), a steak nestled on fettucine with pesto sauce. For dessert there’s traditional flan and helado de lúcuma, ice cream flavored with the lúcuma fruit of Peru.
Rincon Peruano’s phone is (480) 649-0343, and you can visit its Web site at www.rincon-peruano.com.
Peruvian Causa –
(Layered chilled potato salad.)
• 2 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
• 2 blue potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces (if you cannot find blue potatoes, use another variety)
• 2 white potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
• Pinch of saffron
• 4 ½ Tbsp. butter or margarine
• sea salt
• 1/3 cup of finely chopped kalamata olives
• 1/3 cup finely chopped green olives
• 3 cloves of minced garlic
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. minced capers
• 2 Tbsps. Finely chopped parsley
• 1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled & chopped
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• juice of 1 lemon
Boil each of the 3 types of potatoes in separate pots. Add saffron to the yellow potatoes. Cook all potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes.) Drain the potatoes, and mash each type separately adding 11/2 Tbsp butter or margarine and sea salt to each.
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the olive mixture.
Line a 9 x 4 loaf pan with plastic wrap, extending the wrap over the edges of the pan. Layer one variety of mashed potatoes in the bottom of the pan and spread evenly. Spread ½ of the olive mixture on top of the potato layer and add a layer of another variety of potato, another layer of olive mixture and finish with a potato layer. Fold the plastic wrap over to cover the top and chill in refrigerator overnight. Lift the plastic wrap carefully onto a serving platter, remove plastic wrap. Slice the causa.