Succulent beef strips marinated in soy sauce flavored with fresh ginger and spicy aji amarillo chilies, then stir-fried Chinese style and served with sweet potatoes, blend the clean flavors of Chinese cooking with the hearty indigenous ingredients of Peruvian cuisine. Fusion food—blending cuisines from different cultures for new taste experiences—may seem like a contemporary concept, but Peruvian food is the fusion of hundreds of years of culinary traditions from not only South America but Africa, Europe and Asia.
The Chinese were the first Asians to arrive in Peru, with some 91,000 brought in as laborers between 1848 and 1874. These early immigrants introduced new ingredients such as ginger, soy sauce and scallions, maintained their traditional cooking methods but used local ingredients like sweet pineapple and bananas from the Amazon and potatoes from the Andes highlands to create a new cuisine.
“Chifa”—from Mandarin “chi-fan,” meaning “to eat rice”—is a contemporary cuisine that blends Chinese and Peruvian flavors. Lomo Saltado, today considered a traditional Peruvian food, is actually a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian traditions. Arroz chaufa, a savory mix of fresh spices, rice and chicken, pork or seafood, is one of several varieties of Chinese fried rice adopted into the Peruvian food repertoire.
The Japanese came soon after in 1899, elevating the preparation of seafood to an art. Cebiche, regarded as the national dish of Peru, uses cubed morsels of fresh fish like calamari, tuna or scallops bathed in a marinade of piquant flavors of lime, chilies and onion. Tiradito uses fresh seafood cut sashimi-style into thin strips, then immersed in a zesty sauce of lime, ginger and aji amarillo sauce just before serving. The vibrant flavors are balanced with native ingredients of avocado, sweet potato or corn.
If you have not yet had the pleasure of savoring Peruvian flavors, or if you are already an established aficionado of the Peruvian culinary experience, La Costanera Peruvian Restaurant presents a cultural food experience in a romantic setting. Chef Carlos Altamirano, from the Pacific coast of Peru, presents authentic Peruvian fare on the Pacific coast of California just south of San Francisco on Highway 1 overlooking Montara Beach. Enjoy the seasonal flavors of the Andes, the freshest bounty of the sea and the sweet harvests from the Amazon basin at La Costanera, a Peruvian restaurant that caters to your gastronomic experience.