Tanta a rare Peruvian treat

October 18, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"That is food from the coast of Peru. We can make ceviche with every fresh fish; you need fresh fish and limes," said Chef Jesus Delgado.

Delgado and Company plow through lots of limes and fish, but also indigenous items like corn and sweet potatoes, not to mention quinoa, the popular grain that's loaded with vitamins; here, it shows up in a salad with lima beans, hummus and yogurt.

"From the Andes we have more hearty food like stews, soups," he said.

And causitas - whipped potatoes flavored with the yellow aji chile - come topped with bits of crab and avocado.. while an anticucho of grilled octopus crowns griddled potatoes; the dish is seasoned with chimichurri sauce, which means lots of garlic, parsley and olive oil, plus a thick olive sauce.

No surprise to see fried rice, since Cantonese immigrants came to Peru in the 1800s. Delgado tops his with a shrimp-embedded omelet, then drizzles over a spicy garlic and chile sauce.

At the bar, the national spirit - pisco - makes appearances in several drinks, including the classic pisco sour, shaken with egg whites and fresh lime, always topped by a few droplets of bitters.

"So pisco is our drink," said Delgado.

So a misconception about Peruvian cuisine is that it's just the corn, potatoes and ceviche, but there's a bit Asian influence as well, from the skewers to the fried rice, but one thing that's purely Peruvian and has no influence from elsewhere: the pisco.

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