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Peruvian Cuisine: 2012′s Latest Food Trend

Food Trends 2012 Header

PBS shines a light on latest food trends in 2012 thus far. We set out to see what is new in the culinary world and what the near future looks like for foodies, so we spoke with esteemed chefs and culinary professionals across the country to get their insight on this phenomenon.

Aji Amarillo Peppers

Aji amarillo peppers are a colorful, intense feature of Peruvian cuisine. Photo Credit: Juan Nose, Flickr Creative Commons

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By Alex Fishler

With its complex and unique flavors, Peruvian cuisine is stepping into the spotlight of the fine dining world.

Doris Rodriguez de Platt, owner of Andina in Portland, Ore., grew up in Peru and brings her experience of Peruvian home-cooking to the restaurant every day.

“Each [Peruvian] dish is a delight for the eye and the mouth; the vibrant colors of our food given by nature are enhanced by our ingredients, like lime juice that makes our purple potato have an intense, almost surreal bright blue color,” she said.

Peruvian cuisine combines aspects of many other ethnic cuisines for a distinct type of multicultural fare. Platt says that the food has influences from Incan, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and Jewish cooking styles, which make it truly a melting pot of international gastronomy.

According to Rodriguez de Platt’s son and co-owner of their restaurant, Peter Platt, the multicultural aspect of Peruvian cuisine allows everyone to find a bit of comfort in the food.

“By drawing from all of the world’s great continental cuisines, Peruvian food has a taste ‘touch point’ for everyone. In other words, there are multiple paths of entry to discover the richness and variety of Peruvian cooking without having to stray too far off of one’s preferred palette,” he said.

Platt says that this type South American food is heavily reliant on the use of “ajies”, or hot Peruvian peppers, which are a key feature of Peruvian cuisine. The Platts import four types of these peppers straight from Peru to use in their dishes and they use aji amarillo the most.

“[Aji amarillo] has a bright, citrusy flavor and an intense yellow color which adds acidity and zingy spice to our dishes, whether used as part of an ‘adrezo’ (olive oil, onions, garlic and aji amarillo – slow cooked) or alone as a fresh puree,” said Platt.

Rodriguez de Platt said that Peruvian cuisine is gaining momentum due to the efforts of Peruvian chefs. “Most of them are talented youth from upper middle class families who, being away from Peru, and being exposed to other cuisines, rediscovered the enormous potential that our Andean products and our seafood have,” she said.

As a result, Rodriguez de Platt said that the Peruvian style was revamped and elevated to higher standards that slowly impressed the other of Peruvians, and then it made its way into other South American countries, and now is emerging in the U.S. and Europe.

Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko in Austin, Texas, said he includes Peruvian influences in his restaurant’s fare. “Peruvian cuisine is on the rise in popularity with all South American food lately here in the States; most all of them with a focus on freshness and seasonal and regional food, which is what chefs these days are trying to focus on and cook,” said Cole.

Chefs Featured in This Article

Doris Rodriguez de PlattDoris Rodriguez de Platt (Mama Doris) is the owner of Andina in Portland, Oregon. Andina was selected by Zagat for their list of “Top 10 Restaurants in Portland” in 2009.

Chef Tyson ColeChef Tyson Cole is the chef and owner of Uchi and Uchiko in Austin, Texas. He was the winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest.