From the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region to the tropical rainforests of the west, Peru is known for extreme biodiversity. When it comes to cuisine, Peruvian dishes reflect its vibrant history, culture, and local resources.
Learn more about this delicious cuisine and what to order at a Peruvian restaurant.
Practically Peru’s national dish, ceviche is a must-try when you visit. You’ll find the dish featured at food outlets throughout Peru, from huarique street carts to five-star restaurants. The dish pays homage to Peru’s approximately 1,500 miles of coastline with its refreshing blend of raw seafood marinated in lime juice and seasoned with spicy limo or rocoto chillies.
The seafood can include sea bass, tuna, sand smelt, octopus, sole, black clams, or sea urchin. Fine slivers of fresh vegetables such as red onion, sweet potato, cancha crunchy corn, and cilantro temper the sour citrus-flavor of the lime. The combination of spicy, sour, creamy, and crunchy flavors marinates for a few hours before serving.
2. Lomo Saltado (Stir-Fried Beef)
Lomo saltado brings the flavors of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine (Chifa) together in a delectable dish. Inspired by Chinese immigrants to Peru who experimented with local ingredients, Chifa cooking contains a few hints of Chinese food—in terms of styles and techniques—but is largely a distinct species of cuisine.
Among the many Chifa dishes available in Peru, the most beloved is lomo saltado. It’s as widely available as ceviche and ordered nearly as often. And it’s a great entrée into the wide world of Chifa flavors and combinations. Comprised of onions, tomatoes, aji chilies, and spices stir-fried with juicy strips of soy-marinated beef, the finished dish is a savory combination of vegetables and meat in a robust gravy.
3. Papa a la Huancaína (Potatoes in Spicy Cheese Sauce)
Potatoes were first farmed in Peru, and they are celebrated in Peruvian dishes to this day. If you’re looking for good old-fashioned Peruvian comfort food, give Papa a la Huancaína a try. Think boiled, sliced yellow potatoes served in a spicy, creamy sauce. The sauce includes a purée of aji Amarillo, garlic, queso fresco, evaporated milk, lime juice, and saltine crackers. The dish is topped with hardboiled egg yolks.
Papa a la Huancaína looks tame. But as you dive in, you’ll notice a buildup of spiciness. That’s when the cooling effects of the hardboiled egg garnish and potatoes become most appreciated. It’s served as an appetizer or the side dish to a meal and remains a staple of Peruvian food.
Quinoa’s become huge stateside, ever since its nutritional properties were first discovered. But this superfood has long been eaten in Peru and was known to the Incas as “the mother of all grains.” In the Andes Mountains, sopa de quinoa is simmered with other locally-grown ingredients to make an energizing, satisfying soup.
5. Suspiro de Limeña
The name translates roughly as, “the lady from Lima’s sigh.” It describes a double-layered, sugary treat that will have you sighing, too.
The gooey base of this double-decker treat is made from manjar blanco caramel or dulce de leche. This is covered in port-infused meringue sometimes sprinkled with cinnamon. Variations of this decadent delight include chirimoya and lucuma egg fruit, native to the Andean region.
Ready to taste some delectable Peruvian dishes? Check out our upcoming Peru family adventure for the whole family, a great way to experience authentic Peruvian cuisine.
You’ll also enjoy checking out our free Around the World in 12 Recipes cookbook. Featuring kid-friendly recipes, your whole family will delight in preparing and enjoying these international flavors together.
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