The distinctive cuisine of Peru, with its citrus-marinated seafood and other flavorful dishes, is reproduced throughout Miami, from casual cevicherias to white-tablecloth restaurants.
Peruvian food is so popular here that one Miami Flavors entry would not do it justice. Today, we focus on Peru’s sea-based cuisine; we’ll highlight its meatier dishes in an upcoming edition.
Peru’s rich culinary history dates to its Inca origins, and its traditional food retains those native flavors. However, many of the country’s seafood specialties draw inspiration from its Asian immigrants, particularly from Japan.
When exploring Peruvian seafood, expect flavors to be refreshingly light yet invigorating, with an acidic bite from citrus and a building heat from peppers.
Here are terms to know and places to seek out in your Peruvian culinary journey through Miami.• Aji amarillo: A bright-orange chile pepper with a mild to medium heat level that is somewhat subtle, allowing the flavors it’s paired with to shine.
• Ceviche: The crown jewel of Peruvian seafood, this wildly popular dish is traditionally a combination of chopped raw fish mixed with onions, peppers and cilantro in a citrus marinade.
• Cilantro: This pungent, fresh-tasting green herb (see sidebar) pops up in Peruvian ceviches, soups and as a ubiquitous garnish.
• Citrus: The most important component to Peruvian seafood dishes other than the fish itself. In ceviches and tiraditos, the acidity from the citrus, usually lime, “cooks” the fish. In cooked dishes, citrus adds zest and acidity.
• Jalea: Those who prefer their fish cooked will enjoy jalea de pescado, lightly breaded and fried fish garnished with onions and cilantro. For the seafood variety, look for jalea de mariscos; a combination of fish and seafood is called jalea mixta.
• Rocoto: Much hotter than aji amarillo, rocoto chiles taste citrusy sweet at first bite, then they erupt with heat.
• Tiradito: Similar to sashimi or crudo, tiradito consists of thinly sliced pieces of raw fish that are bathed in citrus and often accompanied by a spicy component.
• Vegetables: Don’t be surprised to find sweet potato, corn and yuca mixed in with your ceviche; these veggies are common components to Peruvian seafood dishes.
Miami Flavors is an occasional series that highlights the various ethnic cuisines that are prevalent in South Florida.
Did you know?
The citrus marinade that is created while making ceviche is called leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk, and is sometimes served as a hangover cure.
Pisco, a popular liquor made in Peru and Chile, pairs well with many Peruvian seafood dishes; the signature cocktail preparation, a pisco sour, includes an egg white.
While many people love cilantro, a small percentage of the population has a strong aversion to the herb for genetic reasons. To them, it tastes like soap.
Where to eat
Ceviche 105: This sleek, upscale eatery in the heart of downtown is notable for its modern take on traditional ceviches and tiraditos. Second location coming soon to Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. 105 NE Third Ave., Miami.
Divino Ceviche: Founded in 2012, this Doral-based restaurant became so popular for its “divine” ceviche that it opened a Coral Gables location to meet demand. 2629 NW 79th Ave., Doral, and 160 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables.
El Chalán: This Westchester hole in the wall and its South Beach sibling have been around for ages and with good reason: generous portions of fresh seafood at great prices. 7971 Bird Rd., Miami, and 1580 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.
La Mar: Peru’s most celebrated chef and prolific restaurateur Gastón Acurio opened his first Miami location this year at the Mandarin Oriental. Its menu spans from raw ceviches and tiraditos to grilled anticuchos and dishes with Japanese and Chinese influences. 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami.
My Ceviche: If Shake Shack had a Peruvian cousin, it would be My Ceviche. This local fast-casual chain offers six varieties of fantastically fresh ceviche as well as ceviche-inspired bowls, burritos and tacos. Locations in Brickell, South Beach, South Miami and coming soon to Coral Gables.
Sabor a Peru: This Edgewater neighborhood joint has a very loyal following and an extensive selection of seafood and fish offerings that would whet the appetite of any Peruvian food lover. 2923 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
TiraDToss: This Doral spot features Peruvian-Japanese dishes as well as a selection of sushi, sashimi and tartare. 2475 NW 95th Ave., Doral.