For years, Peru has been considered the epicenter of the gastronomic revolution that takes part in Latin America. And it is not surprising, since Peru has greatly influenced world cuisine. Without Andean country, there would be no potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other endless ingredients that helped world people in their most critical moments. Especially within Lima, the capital of Peru, and the gastronomic capital of all of South America. It is in there where you can appreciate the explosion of flavors and try their incredible traditional dishes. Although the rest of the country is also not without delicacies and delicacies. Therefore, together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru, we want to tell you everything about the Peruvian National Dish. So you can start savoring the particular flavor of the Andean country.
Everything you need to know about the Peruvian national dish
- Ceviche: The Peruvian National dish
- Importance of Peruvian food products
- Origin of Ceviche
- When to try the Peruvian national dish
- National day of Ceviche
- Cevicherias Restaurants
- Other worthy mentions
Ceviche: The Peruvian national dish
Ceviche is the Peruvian national dish par excellence, this is usually a fresh raw fish salad marinated in lime with salt and mixed with onion, garlic, and other peppers previously marinated in lemon, too. It is eaten accompanied by lettuce, corn kernels, toasted corn, Cochallullo (edible seaweed), and sweet potato. It is one of the most representative and symbolic dishes of Peruvian culture and pride.
The juice of lime and lemon is responsible for denaturing the protein of the fish, this can be seen in its lightly cooked texture. Also, throughout the Andean country, you can find many variations in the recipe, depending on where you are, ceviche can have a unique touch such as milk, orange juice, celery, and much more. Besides, you can usually find black oyster ceviche, crab ceviche, and mixed seafood ceviche, among others.
Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, do not miss going through Lima before and enjoying its delicious ceviche. There are more than two hundred ways to prepare this exquisite dish, making it not only a dish but also one of the main attractions to enjoy in tourism in Peru.
Importance of Peruvian food products
It is no doubt that the majority of gastronomic schools in the world owe a debt to Peru. There would be no chocolate in Switzerland if it weren’t for the early plantations in the Peruvian Amazon. There would be no potatoes in Ireland if it weren’t for the variety cultivated in the Andeans. And so we can continue with many other places in the world. The Peru native cuisine was the one that truly revolutionized the world. The different influences of the world indeed changed the way Peruvians eat, and this fact was returned to the world. And this one would have starved if it hadn’t been for Peru. For this reason, ceviche is the most famous dish in the Andean country, and tasting it is one of the best things to do in Peru. Therefore, meet our most important dish as well as other honorable mentions.
Origin of Ceviche
This Peruvian national dish is more than 500 years old and originates from the Andean country. Although, its origins have long been disputed and theorized. Academics and scholars affirm that ceviche was born within the pre-Inca culture named Moche, between the years 100 to 700 AD. This is the most popular theory of all, which states that Ceviche is over 2000 years old. It is believed that during this time, the fish was marinated with fermented juices of the Tumbo fruit (also known as Curuba). During those times, citrus fruits were not present in Latin America. The current version of fish marinated in lemon juice emerged with the arrival of Spanish settlers.
After its birth, it slowly spread to other South American countries, thus gaining popularity. Over the years, this dish was adapted to the emerging gastronomic boom in Peru and to the palates of the many tourists who often visited the country. Even the flavor and preparation of this dish can change depending on where you are in the Andean Country. Although it must be recognized that there are also numerous other traditional Peruvian food dishes. Therefore, Ceviche is not the only delight to try, but it is undoubtedly one of the main protagonists of Peruvian seafood dishes.
Where the word “Ceviche” comes from?
As for the name Ceviche, numerous arguments debate its origin. Some arguments suggest that the word derives from the Latin “Cibus”, which means “food for men and animals” It is believed that this word evolved along with other Arabic words that mean “vinegar” or “soup”. Another important theory suggests that the word is a derivative of the Spanish word “Escabeche” (it means pickle or marinade) Even, some scholars affirm that Ceviche is derivate from the Quechua word “Siwichi” which means fresh fish.
When to try the Peruvian national dish
The best place and time to enjoy Peru’s national dish is in Lima, during the rainy season if you plan to visit Machu Picchu. Remember, the rainy season is equal to rains in Andean Highlands and sunny days on the Peruvian coast, where is located Lima. Therefore, it’s a good idea to taste it in the summer during your passage through Lima.
Despite this, we recommend tasting the Peruvian national dish at any time of the year. For this reason, if you plan to enjoy the main attractions of Peru and eat ceviche, it is a good idea to organize your trip from March to July. So you can enjoy the Peruvian attractions without unforeseen rain and enjoy the coast sun. Coast to eat Ceviche and the Andean highlands to visit attractions.
National day of Ceviche
The national day of Ceviche is June 28th of every year. To this day, most restaurants offer promotions, discounts, and special varieties of the Peruvian national dish. A most recommended tip for someone who want to do tourism in Peru for the first time is don’t to speak badly about Peruvian gastronomy, to do so is an offense for them. And officializing a national day of its flag dish is proof of it.
If you are looking to try the Peruvian national dish, do not worry, throughout Lima (The capital of Peru and the city per excellent to taste it) you will find numerous “Cevicherías” where you can enjoy this delicacy. Cevicherías are restaurants where the menu focuses on this delicious national dish. You can find countless Cevicherías throughout Lima, even in other destinations in Peru, all of them with high quality in their Ceviches dishes, we can ensure it!
These restaurants are generally only open during the noon, as popular belief says that Ceviche can only be served as lunch. Peruvians tend to believe that fresh fish at night or during dinner can fall ill to the stomach. Following, you will have our selection of the 5 best restaurants in Lima:
- Chez Wong: This is a restaurant of modest Chef Javier Wong. Its ceviche is catalogized as one of the best in the Peruvian capital, with a particular characteristic. The restaurant has not a menu or option to choose from. The ceviche Chef who chooses to cook this day is the dish served, without discussion. His restaurant, his rules. Dare to prove its ceviche and know why Anthony Bourdain was fascinated by its taste.
Address: Enrique León García street 114, La Victoria district 15034, Lima
Schedule: Tuesday – Sunday, from 13:00 – 15:30.
- La Mar: La mar is the jewel of the world’s recognized chef, Gaston Acurio. It is located in Miraflores, a beautiful neighborhood of Lima. There, you will taste a great variety of Ceviches, Black shell ceviche, a vegetarian option (without fish), Tiraditos (A kind of ceviche with laminated fish covered by sweet and sour sauce), a nikkei option (a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese dishes), inter alia.
Address: La Mar avenue 770, Miraflores district, Lima.
Schedule: Monday – Thursday, from 12:00 – 17:00 / Friday – Saturday – Sunday, from 12:00 – 17:30.
- El Mercado: Among La Mar, El Mercado is another luxury restaurant located in the Miraflores district, in Lima. The chef Rafael Osterling is the owner and he with his team prepared a menu with a great variety of ceviches and seafood. The most remarkable dishes are Tiraditos, grilled scallops, and tiger milk (A kind of sour sauce, marinated with lime and lemon, with pieces of minced fish) As an additional note, ceviche is considered one of the best Peruvian superfoods, due to its high content of iron and phosphorus.
Address: Hipólito Unanue avenue 203, Miraflores district, Lima.
Schedule: Tuesday – Sunday, from 12:30 – 17:00.
- Canta Rana: If you want to know about a traditional restaurant where many Peruvians go to taste the delicious ceviche (In other words, a non-touristic restaurant), Canta Rana or Sing Frog is your place. This restaurant has more than 17 types of ceviches that delight the palates of traditional local families from many years ago. The restaurant is located in the beautiful district of Barranco, and it offers the possibility to taste a great variety of Peruvian desserts too!
Address: Genova 101 street, Barranco district 15063, Lima.
Schedule: Monday from 10:00 – 17:00 / Tuesday – Saturday, from 10:00 – 21:00 / Sunday from 12:00 – 17:00.
- Punto Azul: This is the most recent ceviche restaurant located in Surco, a middle-class neighborhood in Lima. Punto Azul represents a pleasant discovery about ceviche dishes and their variety like Chaufa seafood, rice of seafood, Tiradito, Jalea of fish, tiger milk, and inter alia.
Address: Primavera avenue 2235, Santiago de Surco district 15023, Lima.
Schedule: Tuesday – Sunday, from 12:00 – 16:00.
Also, you can’t even miss those restaurants in Lima specializing in Nikkei cuisine (a cuisine style of fusion food between the Peruvian and Japanese) These restaurants are where you can find different ways of tasting seafood and fresh fish. And it is not surprising that the demand for new high-end stores is at its peak in Peru. Along with the strong gastronomic revolution, numerous fusion food restaurants saw tremendous growth. This is much more reflected in the capital of Peru.
Other worthy mentions
As is common knowledge, Ceviche is not the only delight to try within the Peruvian limits. When it comes to Peruvian food, you can enjoy a paradox in every way. You will be able to feel warm and cold textures, such as acidic flavors fusing with other, more starchy ones. Delicate and robust dishes at the same time, that is the essence of Peruvian food. And this balance can be seen in the vast majority of their dishes.
The Peruvian tradition focuses on the boldest flavors and spices that accentuate these. From fresh and clean dishes to deeper and heavier ones. Each flavor can dominate or counteract another. It cannot be denied that the culinary heritage is one of Peru’s greatest attractions. There are a lot of traditional Peruvian food dishes you must try. Usually in these dishes, potatoes, corn, and peppers take a leading role. Fish and shellfish are not the only delicacies available in the Andean country, so we will mention other typical dishes below.
Lomo saltado (Stir fried beef)
Ceviche and Lomo Saltado can be considered the two national dishes in Peru. In order of taste, after Ceviche, the best Peruvian national dish to try is Lomo Saltado. This is a very popular dish and the second most chosen by Peruvians.
- The dish consists of a kind of mixture of classic Peruvian cuisine with Chinese stir-fry techniques.
- It is prepared with tender strips of beef marinated in soy sauce.
- Then chili, tomatoes, onions, and other spices are added.
- These ingredients are fried together until the meat is cooked enough.
- When the tomatoes and onions reach a sauce-like consistency, it’s time to serve.
- This dish is served with plenty of white rice and French fries.
This is the result of the fusion of Cantonese cuisine with Peruvian Creole cuisine. Therefore, many Peruvian consider Lomo Saltado a Peru’s national dish Chinese. But, why? Because this dish achieved passed from an exclusive Cantonese cuisine to daily Peruvian cuisine. Nowadays, you can find it practically in any domestic kitchen and restaurant in Peru.
Papas a la huancaina (Potatoes in spicy cheese sauce)
This delicious recipe originates from the city of Huancayo. The Papas a la Huancaína is another Peruvian national dish that you cannot stop trying. This is a clear representation of one of the most basic and essential foods in the Peruvian diet.
- This well-known dish is prepared with cooked potatoes along with a sauce made from yellow chili and cheese. Another delight of the Andean country.
- Huancaina is a representative sauce of our culinary tradition. The sauce takes on real relevance in the dish.
- This sauce consists of a mixture of evaporated milk, garlic, yellow pepper, lemon juice, and fresh cheese.
- This mixture has a thick texture but a very attractive flavor.
- The sauce is typically served on top of boiled or browned potatoes along with a hard-boiled egg.
This golden preparation is a bit spicy, but not at all annoying. The fresh cheese gives it a perfect balance that together with the different earthy potatoes offers an explosion of flavors. This dish is usually a perfect appetizer before enjoying the main dish. La Papa a la Huancaína is a perfect appetizer.
Ají de gallina (Creamy chicken curry)
This famous dish consists of a cream preparation accompanied by chicken, cooked potatoes, and white rice, among other things. One of the best typical dishes of the Andean country. This is another Peru national dish that should not be overlooked. Even, you can accompany it with one of the best traditional Peruvian drinks, like Pisco Sour.
- This delicacy consists of shredded chicken prepared similarly to curry.
- But the sauce on the plate consists of a thick mixture of cheese, yellow pepper, walnuts, bread, and much more.
- This smooth and flavorful sauce is the true star of the recipe.
- The dish is served with boiled potatoes, black olives, hearty white rice, and finally the chicken with sauce.
The dish is incredibly tasty, with a consistency similar to that of a heavy fish broth. This dish is very characteristic of Arequipa, although you can enjoy it anywhere in Peru.
Like biodiversity in Peru, our food is very varied. A perfect example of this is Pachamanca. This millennial dish is considered a Cultural Heritage of the Nation. It is usually more popular in rural areas of Peru. Its cooking method is what makes this dish so distinguished. The dish is one of the ancient traditions that continue to be practiced to this day.
- Pachamanca is a traditional dish that is prepared in the heat of preheated stones.
- In the middle of these different meats of chicken, pork, beef, and guinea pig are put.
- At the same time, it is accompanied by abundant vegetables, sweet potatoes, other potatoes, and much more.
- Each ingredient is previously seasoned to give that signature flavor of the Andes.
It is one of the dishes that you should not miss, especially if you plan to travel to the Peruvian Andes.
Pollo a la brasa (Grilled chicken)
The list could not be complete without one of the most consumed dishes by Peruvians. Pollo a la Brasa is a Peruvian national dish par excellence and its large number of restaurants are proof of this. Grilled Chicken is usually a festive and celebratory dish, although there are always excuses to eat it. The “Pollerías” are found throughout Peru.
- The key to its being so popular lies in its hearty servings that are ideal for the whole family.
- French fries, Grilled Chicken, cold cooked salads, and a good cold beer. This is a typical Peruvian lunch suitable for all families.
- The chicken is marinated in an explosive combination of herbs, spices, and garlic. To later be roasted over wood and give the chicken skin that crunchy texture.
An unmissable dish to try on Saturdays!
Anticucho (Grilled heart)
El Anticucho is the most popular Peruvian street food prepared by street vendors. When walking through the streets of the cities, there will be no shortage of places to try an anticucho. Don’t get carried away by the idea that hearts are not edible. This is a Peru national dish that reflects street gastronomy.
- The heart is a much leaner meat, with a meatier texture, and a bold flavor. Cooks prepare these diced and marinated in a special sauce.
- The sauce is composed of garlic, chili, vinegar, and cumin among other things. It is very popular street food.
- These are served on skewers with slices of roasted potatoes and onion slices.
Although in certain establishments they receive some more flashy presentations.
“SPEAK SPANISH, KISS FRENCH, DRESS ITALIAN, SPEND ARAB, PARTY CARIBBEAN, EAT PERUVIAN”
So, What is the number one food in Peru? Well, it’s an ambiguous question. But we could place Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, Aji de Gallina, and Grilled Chicken as some of the best Peru national dishes. There’s no doubt that Ceviche is considered the national dish par excellence in all of Peru. Machu Travel Peru hopes to have been of help to differentiate the different typical dishes of Peru. Remember that we cannot cover all the delicacies available in a single small article, even so, we try to give importance to those dishes that you cannot miss. If you want to know more about our gastronomic tours in Peru, do not hesitate to consult with our qualified advisers.