About a year ago we decided it was time to step up the Peruvian influence at Madame George, both in our cuisine and drinks offerings. Together with Patrick Schmitt, my business partner and head chef at Madame George, we started a fun journey exploring Peruvian cuisine, flavours and techniques.
My wife Fang and I have recently returned from a three and half week trip to Peru. We stayed in Barranco, a bohemian, old-school district in Lima. Having retained most of its classic architecture and small urban scale, it was the perfect place for me to introduce Fang to my childhood memories of a "barrio" or neighbourhood. Together we visited some amazing spaces, art galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants, while walking through some of the areas I grew up in.
We had the pleasure of meeting Javier Wong, the godfather of Peruvian ceviche, and experiencing unique Peruvian hospitality in places like Central and Maido, both ranked in the top 10 of The World's 50 best restaurants list. They showcase some of the contemporary expressions of Peruvian cuisine, as well as some of the more traditional ones. We were pleasantly overwhelmed by the richness and depth of Peruvian cuisine, its fragrant flavours, fresh ingredients and its friendly hospitality - I can close my eyes and somehow almost recall the smiles, the laughter and the amazing memories created around food, family and friends.
There were some dishes that transported me back to memories of growing up in Peru, I was surprised by how emotional it was to eat them. One of these dishes is called "arroz con pato", Peruvian green rice with duck. It's a traditional dish from the northern part of Peru, where I was born. Another dish that transported me back - and it is one of my favourites - was "tiradito" a perfect crossover - in my opinion - of ceviche and sashimi. Unfortunately the "arroz con pato" requires some ingredients currently hard to find in New Zealand, but fear not - we are working on that. The "tiradito" can be a little technical but, luckily for you, and me, we are now serving it at Madame George.
Pablo Arrasco Paz is the host and owner of Madame George on Auckland's Karangahape Rd
Tallarin saltado: Peruvian stir-fry noodle
There is a dish "tallarin saltado" that we find fun to cook at home. It originally crossed the boundaries between local Peruvian cuisine and the early Asian migration. This Peruvian stir-fry noodle, based on a recipe from "Peru, the Cookbook" by Gaston Acurio, is a variation of the very traditional - almost Peruvian staple - "lomo saltado". Fang and I have enjoyed making this dish at home because it's a collaborative effort, both in the prepping and the making (I, more often than not, get to do the dishes too). Best cooked in a wok on a gas burner, of course it can be done in a frying pan on the more traditional electric stove. Try it for a new trick up your sleeve!
700g spaghetti, linguine or any long pasta
600g beef tenderloin cut into strips
4 Tbsp of vegetable oil
1 red onion, cut into thick slices
2 yellow capsicum, sliced
2 chillies, sliced (remove seeds and veins to reduce heat)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 Tbsp white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cups vegetable or beef stock
4 tomatoes, skinned, seeded, cut into thick slices
1 spring onion, cut into 4cm pieces
1 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves
salt + pepper
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water, I prefer it al dente. Drain and set aside.
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add two tablespoons of oil to a very hot wok or frying pan, add the meat, and stir-fry until browned and medium-well done, about 2 minutes.
Remove from the wok and set aside.
Add two tablespoons of oil, followed by the onion, yellow capsicum, chillies and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds then add the cooked and drained pasta.
Stir-fry the ingredients for another minute and add the beef, vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and stock. Continue to stir-fry the ingredients for 30 seconds, add the tomato, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the spring onion and chopped coriander leaves. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in large shallow bowls.
Ensure the wok or frying pan, is very hot. You can split the cooking into two servings at a time. You can also replace the beef with vegetables or seafood to suit.
Enjoy making this dish at home, make sure you have a glass of wine, or two, and play your favourite music while cooking.