Peru has always appealed to me for some reason. I’ve never been there, and only have a handful of friends who have, but it just feels like one of those places that I’d quite like to visit. I don’t really know much about it either – I sort of think Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail (the two often go hand in hand), alpacas, and Cusco and Lima (which are just really two cities in Peru). I realise I would need to know more if I were to visit. My friend Skead has visited, and could probably tell you more (I think that’s where I got the above information from).
A quick look at Wikipedia tells me that Spanish is the most common language spoken in Peru – with approximately 84% of people speaking it. Over 81% of people over the age of 12 identify themselves at Catholic. Peru is rooted in Spanish and American Indian (or Amerindian as Wikipedia calls it) culture. Cerviche is one of the main national dishes – which, simplified, is raw fish in citrus juices. Not sushi raw fish though, but traditionally and more commonly, sea bass.
I’m generally quite hesitant when it comes to cooking fish – unless its from Woolies and actually has the instructions on the box (even that can be touch and go sometimes). I very rarely deal with any other fish. I know this is a cooking challenge so essentially I should have taken the plunge, but I didn’t. I also wanted to try and use ingredients I had in the house (unemployment is a real thing!). I therefore decided on a Peruvian Butternut Stew. It also helped that it was a vegetarian dish – still not eating meat for lent.
The recipe can be found here. I changed very little in the recipe, except that I used thyme and basil instead of oregano (as per this website). It was really helpful actually and I will certainly use it in future. The stew was delicious. The cream made it quite rich in parts, and it wasn’t typically spicy as a curry would be – I think I was kind of expecting that (although understand that’s unlikely when I’m only using green chillies). The recipe called for cream or evaporated milk, which is condensed milk (very sweet). I don’t know how it would taste with the condensed milk – it would definitely add a very different element to it. I shared some with Laura (it wasn’t intentional that she had been to Peru and now I was feeding her Peruvian food, but it was just delicious and there was so much left over). She gave a pretty good report back on it. I had initially served it with rice, but it’s quite dense and carby, so actually didn’t need the rice.