A Fork on the Road

Fresh takes on Peruvian favorites at North Miami Beach’s Ají Carbon

Smoked seafood ceviche with squid ink, micro greens, choclo corn and sweet potato at Aji Carbon Peruvian in North Miami Beach.
Smoked seafood ceviche with squid ink, micro greens, choclo corn and sweet potato at Aji Carbon Peruvian in North Miami Beach.

If you go

What: Ají Carbon Peruvian Cuisine

Address: 16978 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach

Contact: 786-955-6894

Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, noon-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Prices: Appetizers $6-$12, ceviche $11-$15, causas $7-$12, entrees $10-$18

More information

Side dish

Potatoes with Cheese Sauce

Typically served on the side, this dish, adapted from “The Book of Latin American Cooking” by Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz (Ecco, 1994), makes a delicious centerpiece to a vegetarian meal.

6 large potatoes, boiled until tender and drained

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Munster cheese

Peel and thickly slice the potatoes. In a skillet, heat the butter over medium-high and sauté the onion until softened. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and cheese. Cook, stirring, until the cheese starts to melt. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 342 calories (47 percent from fat), 18 g fat (11 g saturated, 5.1 g monounsaturated), 59 mg cholesterol, 9 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g fiber, 191 mg sodium.


Peruvian food is a melting pot of ancient Incan, European, African and Asian influences that come together in South America’s most sophisticated cuisine. In North Miami Beach, Ají Carbon Peruvian caters to the city’s sizeable Peruvian community with fresh take on favorite dishes.

The restaurant’s name translates as “chile charcoal,” and there are plenty of ají spices, grilled meats and seafood on the menu, along with fried rice, risotto, pastas, seafood soups (spicy parihuela and creamy chupe) and potatoes smothered in cheese sauce.

Brothers Jean Paul and Anthony Verastegui are in the kitchen with Felipe Villanueva, all graduates of the Cordon Bleu culinary school in the Miraflores district of Lima.

The brothers learned to make Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken from their father with the birds marinated in salt and blackened over glowing embers. This style of cooking chicken over charcoal was developed in the 1950s by a Swiss hotelier in Lima who insisted it be eaten with the hands, not cutlery, and that is how it is served here with fries, so feel free to devour the smoky meat like a caveman, using a napkin to mop up the dripping juices.

Ceviche and sashimi-like tiraditos are less messy but pack a punch with red onions, ají amarillo, lime juice and cilantro served with giant corn kernels and chunks of sweet potato. Try the tiradito tuna in a reduction of ginger and vinegar with cream topped with avocado and black sesame seeds or the ceviche Ají Carbon with shrimp, squid rings and octopus slices tossed in earthy squid ink and citrus juices with mild, sweet, maroon panca chile paste. Salmon tiradito brings tender slices in passion fruit juice topped with fried wontons.

Mashed spuds form the base of causa, from the Quechuan word “kausag,” meaning “to life,” referring to the staple tuber of the Andes. The potato cakes are stuffed with shredded chicken, shrimp, tuna or smoked salmon with avocado and mayo sauce or pesto with delicate micro greens.

Save space for picarones (sweet potato and pumpkin donuts) with thick sugar-cane syrup.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.

Read more A Fork On the Road stories from the Miami Herald

Linda Bladholm

    A Fork on the Road

    A Fork on the Road: Choices Cafe gives vegans plenty of flavor

    In a sign of the times, a small vegan café has opened a larger outpost, offering meatless burgers, wraps, soups and salads. Choices Cafe doubles as a juice bar with cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices and innovative smoothies such as the Miami Heat with mango, jalapeño, lime, plantain, ground flax and chia seeds and agave.

Linda Bladholm

    A Fork on the Road

    A Fork on the Road: Easter treats in Buena Vista

    The third operation in the culinary empire of Frenchmen Claude Postel and Cory Finot is Buena Vista Chocolate & Wine. The small shop is sandwiched between the Buena Vista Bistro and Buena Vista Deli. Glass cases hold a selection of artisan chocolates, and racks are filled with bottles of wine.

  • A Fork on the Road

    A Fork in the Road: Carol’s, Italian with Brazilian touches, opens in downtown Miami

    Life has come full circle for Carolina Moura since she opened her restaurant Carol’s on the same street as the department store of the same name her parents ran when she was a child. Now they help out in the rustic space with brick walls and faux weathered wood flooring. The menu is Italian with pizza, pasta, salads and sandwiches with a few Brazilian favorites.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category