Peru

My husband and I recently returned from a vacation to five countries in South America. We were the most excited about Peru, because Machu Piccu has been a “bucket list” destination for what seems like an eternity.

There wasn’t one thing about Peru that wasn’t beautiful, delicious, and memorable. Except for their feral dog situation, but I’m leaving that off of the blog.

Machu Piccu was everything we knew it would be. But we also fell in love with the country and its beautiful people. Here are a few photos from Peru.

In anticipation of this trip, my daughters gifted me a cookbook for Christmas, entitled Peru, by Gaston Acurio, published in 2015.

There is a significant population of Italians in Peru, so some of the cuisine has a definite Italian flair to it. In fact, the recipe I’m making for this post is a pasta dish with chicken.

“The chicken is cooked slowly in the tomato sauce, which gives it a distinctive taste, and the addition of Huancaina sauce gives it a Creole touch.”

Two unique foods, at least to me, are used in this recipe. One is panca chile paste, and the other is Huancaina sauce. Panca chile paste smells exactly like ancho chile paste. Huancaina sauce is magical. It’s made with cream, queso fresco, and amarillo chile peppers.

In the future I’ll make Huancaina Sauce myself using Aji Amarillo pasta that I’ve found on Amazon. It’s unlikely I can find the actual yellow chile peppers.

Pasta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce
Tallarines Rojos con Pollo

1/2 ounce dried mushrooms, any variety
4 ounces vegetable oil
4 pounds chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I cubed chicken breasts)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and grated
2 carrots, grated (mine were too coarsely grated)
2 tablespoons Panca Chili Paste
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetable broth
2 1/4 pound linguine
1/2 ounce butter
Salt, Pepper

To serve
8 ounces Huancaina Sauce
2 ounces Parmesan cheese

Soak the dried mushrooms in a little warm water for 15 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add another 3 tablespoons oil to the pan, add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes over low heat until the onions have started to soften. Season with salt and pepper and add the tomatoes, carrots, chili paste, bay leaf, and soaked and drained mushrooms. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the browned chicken pieces and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the mixture has reduced to a thick sauce.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in a separate pan in plenty of salted water according to the package instructions until al denote. Drain and transfer to a shallow pan, add the butter and a little of the pasta sauce, and mix together well.

Divide the pasta between plates and spoon over the remaining sauce.

Serve with Huancaina sauce and Parmesan cheese.

This recipe is outstanding.

I could drink the Huancaina sauce. But I wont…

The panca chile paste taste similar to ancho chile paste. It supplied a deep-flavored richness to the sauce.

After making all of the photos, I mixed the fettuccine with the chicken, sauce, and Huancaina sauce, and it was best to me like that. The flavors were all meant to be together.

Note: In the description of this dish, the term “Creole” is used. The cookbook has a recipe for Creole sauce, or Salsa Criolla, and it’s a purée of onion, a limo chile pepper, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. So I don’t think Peruvian cuisine’s use of the term Creole has much to do with what we’re familiar with in the United States.

By Published On: April 5th, 201975 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

75 Comments

  1. thecompletebook April 5, 2019 at 6:09 AM - Reply

    I absolutely adore all the bright colours of Peru.
    Have a wonderful weekend Mimi.
    :-) Mandy xo

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 6:53 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Mandy!

  2. Linda Duffin April 5, 2019 at 6:12 AM - Reply

    What a fantastic trip! Great photos and a recipe new to me. Result!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 6:53 AM - Reply

      All of the food was fantastic there. So many new chile peppers and pepper pastes/sauces. Breakfast was always fun because I put it all on eggs!

  3. Ron April 5, 2019 at 6:25 AM - Reply

    Mimi, what a great post! I’ve traveled in South America lots for business in the past but never made it to Peru. Now I wish I would have made time for a visit. I love your images and hope there’s more to come.
    Your pasta, I’ve got to make it. I can’t find the key ingredients here but will see if I can make them from scratch. It looks and I’m sure tastes divine. Thanks for sharing.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 6:52 AM - Reply

      I couldn’t believe how good all of these flavors are together! Seriously I think you could substitute ancho chile paste, and if you can find Amarillo pepper paste that would be great. I’ve gotten it on Amazon, but I don’t know what you’re able to find.

  4. FrugalHausfrau April 5, 2019 at 7:32 AM - Reply

    Oh my gosh, Mimi, you are so talented! I felt like I have had a little taste of Peru through your lovely photos and descriptions!!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 8:36 AM - Reply

      Aw, thank you. It was such a fabulous experience, and the food was outstanding.

  5. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso April 5, 2019 at 7:53 AM - Reply

    The dish looks delicious. Peru is still on my bucket list, so it’s great to read you loved it so much. I’ve had Peruvian food in a few restaurants in NY and always enjoyed it.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 8:37 AM - Reply

      Well if you love ceviche, that’s an exciting part of their repertoire. The cookbook has a lot of chicken blood, testicles, and other such things, which worried my husband to no end. All of the chile peppers were so fun to try. There are many more varieties not included in this post.

  6. Sunnycovechef April 5, 2019 at 7:55 AM - Reply

    I was in Peru 20 years ago and I loved it. It was quite an adventure. Your photos are beautiful and that pasta looks great.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 8:38 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Gerlinde. Well I imagine it hasn’t changed much. I gorged on ceviche, and their chorizo was outstanding!

  7. Jodi April 5, 2019 at 8:42 AM - Reply

    What a wonderful trip! Great photos and yummy looking recipe! Lucky you!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 9:00 AM - Reply

      Thanks. It was so surreal, really. We’re very lucky.

  8. Gloria Roa Baker April 5, 2019 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    What nice trip and all looks wonderful Mimi. You were so close of mine . I live in Chile. !hgs!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:47 PM - Reply

      I was in Chile! We went to Patagonia.Beautiful country. I had no idea you lived there!

  9. sallybr April 5, 2019 at 11:09 AM - Reply

    Great post, and such wonderful photos, not only of your trip, but the cooking photos are amazing too!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:47 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Sally!

  10. 2pots2cook April 5, 2019 at 11:18 AM - Reply

    Sweet Heavens, Mimi ! I am in love with Peruvian dishes and plan to go there for a vacation to explore the beauties there !!! Thank you so very much for this post !!!! Love it !!!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:48 PM - Reply

      I hope you get there – what a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience. And the food really is so varied and tasty.

  11. ajeanneinthekitchen April 5, 2019 at 12:41 PM - Reply

    WOW! beautiful photos!

  12. Travel Gourmet April 5, 2019 at 2:17 PM - Reply

    What a fabulous trip and beautiful photos. It all looks wonderful and interesting there are lots of Italians there; great recipe.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:49 PM - Reply

      I didn’t bother going to an Italian restaurant, but even at the steakhouses there were a lot of Italian dishes in Brazil and Argentina as well. It all was a wonderful experience.

  13. Fran @ G'day Souffle' April 5, 2019 at 4:09 PM - Reply

    Now I’m sold on Machu Picchu! I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now and it sounds like it is doable- as long as the foot path to the top is wide enough so I won’t be paralyzed with fright (what is you opinion on that)? Plus, your recipe looks delicious!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:51 PM - Reply

      Machu Piccu wasn’t hard at all. If I can do it, anybody can. Seriously. And it’s a minor hike once you’re bussed to the top of the road. You’re never on the edge of a cliff. I understand that fear! But it’s so worth it no matter what.

    • franflint61 April 6, 2019 at 3:45 PM - Reply

      Thanks for your encouraging reply!

  14. Katherine | Love In My Oven April 5, 2019 at 4:55 PM - Reply

    I’ve really enjoyed seeing your photos on Instagram. What a fabulous trip. I have been to Bolivia, but never Peru. It’s on my bucket list!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:52 PM - Reply

      I was just looking at a friend’s IG photos from Bolivia. Wow! So much to see in the world. We knew Machu Piccu would be wonderful, but a big surprise was seeing Patagonia. Another one to put on the bucket list!

  15. Sissi April 5, 2019 at 5:01 PM - Reply

    Peruvian cuisine has become quite trendy here and I’ve heard it’s really delicious (though I’ve never tasted it). Your dish looks and sounds fantastic! Thank you for sharing the photographs from your trip! So fascinating! (By the way, aji panca are amazing deep-flavoured dried chillies. I bought about half a kilo a long time ago and still love them. They don’t have the smokey “in your face” side of some Mexican smoked chillies but very deep mysterious flavours. You’ve made me think I should use them more often!)

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:46 PM - Reply

      We actually went to a Peruvian restaurant in Miami before heading down to South America! My ceviche was incredible. All of the flavors of the chile peppers that were served and the sauces, like Huancaina, were fabulous. The Aji panca and Amarillo are definitely wonderful and flavorful. You’re right – they’re definitely not in-your-face!

  16. Kim Bultman April 5, 2019 at 5:48 PM - Reply

    Some friends are going to Peru the end of this month, so I printed off your post to share with them. (And to drool over your recipe and photos again….:) Thanks, Mimi!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 5:53 PM - Reply

      Oh, that’s nice!!! They’ll love it. Hope they love the food. So many wonderful flavors!

  17. Kelly, RD April 5, 2019 at 8:15 PM - Reply

    Your photos are the MOST beautiful! The dish you made looks incredible! I am jealous of your spectacular trip and happy that you left off the dog situation, actually; I don’t handle things like that very well..

    • chef mimi April 6, 2019 at 8:23 AM - Reply

      No, I could hardly contain myself. It was really hard to see past their dog situation. My girlfriend started our local SPCA 20 years ago and I texted her to see if she’d take on a spay-neuter program for all of Peru and she wasn’t interested! I never saw anyone petting or touching a dog, either. Like, they’re really not in the pet category. Very strange and sad.

      • Kelly, RD April 16, 2019 at 3:44 PM

        That is sad. Those people are all missing out on the most loyal friend they could ever have!

  18. popsiclesociety April 6, 2019 at 3:30 AM - Reply

    So wonderful! Thank you for sharing the pictures! I really hope one day to be able to visit it 😊

    • chef mimi April 6, 2019 at 8:20 AM - Reply

      I hope you do. It’s magical!

  19. Abbe@This is How I Cook April 6, 2019 at 9:01 PM - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to tour South America. Thanks for whetting my appetite-not only with those gorgeous photos but that recipe sounds amazing. And I have aji sauce in the pantry!

    • chef mimi April 6, 2019 at 9:59 PM - Reply

      Fabulous! It was a long awaited and fabulous trip. And, the food was fabulous.

  20. Conor Bofin April 7, 2019 at 3:05 AM - Reply

    Lovely Peruvian journey Mimi.

    • chef mimi April 7, 2019 at 8:04 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Conor.

  21. neil@neilshealthymeals.com April 7, 2019 at 5:34 AM - Reply

    Lynne and I can’t wait to get to Machu Piccu either. Even more so now having seen your photos and read about your trip. It’s on our bucket list! This looks like an amazing recipe I haven’t made any Peruvian dishes before so I’m grateful thanks.

    • chef mimi April 7, 2019 at 8:03 AM - Reply

      You definitely need to work on going. It’s definitely a travel highlight of my life. Peruvian flavors are really bright and wonderful, just like the scenery and the people!

  22. David April 7, 2019 at 12:32 PM - Reply

    I’ve really been enjoying your Peruvian photos on Instagram, and I am excited to try this recipe, although am surprised it has no potatoes! I’m a big fan of aji amarillo and aji panca, but have nevertheless heard of the huancaina sauce! Peru is on my bucket list but this year, I will only get as far as Santiago and Rapa Nui. Did you get to either? Any recommendations?

  23. Karen (Back Road Journal) April 7, 2019 at 5:26 PM - Reply

    First, your photos are absolutely stunning…any one of them could be on the cover of a magazine. Your recipe sounds great and the next time we go to south Florida, I’ll try to find those two sauces. There are several Peruvian restaurants in Miami that can probably tell me where I can buy them.

  24. Tandy | Lavender and Lime April 8, 2019 at 2:50 AM - Reply

    Machu Piccu is a place I would love to visit! I wish I could send you some yellow chillies. This looks and sounds very tasty :)

    • chef mimi April 8, 2019 at 7:20 AM - Reply

      Oh, I wish you could! It would be fun to play with the actual fresh chile peppers. You need to visit MP definitely. So incredible, fascinating, and surreal!

  25. Anonymous April 8, 2019 at 3:08 PM - Reply

    Such beautiful photos and a very interesting pasta dish!

    • chef mimi April 8, 2019 at 6:13 PM - Reply

      Thank you. It was truly hard to take a bad photo!

  26. Debra April 8, 2019 at 9:54 PM - Reply

    What a wonderful vacation! All the beautifully colorful photos are just a taste of what you actually experienced, I’m sure, but they are stunning! And the recipe sounds delicious. i’m sure you have come home with some fabulous memories. How nice!

  27. Jeff the Chef April 8, 2019 at 11:22 PM - Reply

    I’ve never been to Peru. Your pictures of it look amazing! I have had Peruvian food – but I’ve never made any myself, so thanks for the introduction.

  28. cookingwithauntjuju.com April 9, 2019 at 10:49 AM - Reply

    Such a colorful people – I use to knit and love the yarns you’ve pictured. Never eaten Peruvian food or been to Peru but I know I would love the cuisine – spicy and full of flavor! The “Italian” chicken looks pretty good. Don’t you just love Amazon for unusual ingredients – and then you usually receive it within a couple of days!

    • chef mimi April 9, 2019 at 2:30 PM - Reply

      I order so many international gourmet products from amazon it’s silly! But otherwise I can’t get my hands on them unless I travel to a place like NYC. I knit as well, and I was really taken by the natural products they use to dye their wool. So much fun to watch.

  29. cookingontheweekends April 9, 2019 at 1:07 PM - Reply

    Peru is on my bucket list also. My mom and dad took a trip there many, many moons ao, and always said it was one of their favorite places they’d ever been to. This dish looks wonderful — I’m very interested in Huancaina sauce. I’ll have to look into that. Lovely post.

    • chef mimi April 9, 2019 at 2:28 PM - Reply

      H sauce is so good! Cheesy, creamy, and with a hint of mild chile peppers. I wish I could make it from scratch, to avoid the preservatives.

  30. Sofia April 9, 2019 at 4:26 PM - Reply

    I remember seeing your pics on Inst of Machu Pichu <3 I travelled there about 13 years ago! I'm glad you got to visit Peru. DiYes I remember now there were a ton of Italian restaurants in some parts of Peru, so many that I thought it was weird. I never saw this dish though, it looks like the perfect fusion between Italian and Peruvian.

    • chef mimi April 10, 2019 at 9:18 AM - Reply

      It truly is! Fusion cuisines are so interesting, although some get a bit weird for me! I am so glad we got to see Peru. What a beautiful country!

  31. Healthy World Cuisine April 10, 2019 at 9:56 AM - Reply

    Lovely post Mimi and so glad you were able to take this trip. Can’t wait to try Huancaina sauce. Delicious! Take Care

    • chef mimi April 10, 2019 at 12:20 PM - Reply

      Oh, you’ll love it! There’s nothing quite like it that I know of! Wish I could get the fresh chile peppers… maybe I’ll see if I can locate aji amarillo plants!

  32. kitchenriffs April 10, 2019 at 1:21 PM - Reply

    Have yet to make it to Peru. Machu Piccu is a bucket list item for us, too. Sounds like a fabulous trip! Love the pictures. Oh, and a pretty darn good recipe, too. :-)

    • chef mimi April 10, 2019 at 3:21 PM - Reply

      The pasta dish was even better tasting than I though it would be! When you’re in Peru, check out Patagonia…

  33. Emma April 10, 2019 at 1:54 PM - Reply

    I am so jealous I have always wanted to visit Peru, one day I shall definitely make it.

    • chef mimi April 10, 2019 at 3:19 PM - Reply

      It took me 62 years to get there! Hopefully you’ll make it at a much younger age! It is so worth visiting.

  34. Ann Coleman April 11, 2019 at 3:31 PM - Reply

    You were so lucky to visit Peru! It is definitely on my list of places I hope to travel to some day. And that you for the recipe!

    • chef mimi April 11, 2019 at 3:32 PM - Reply

      Oh, it’s so good! I just love trying new chile peppers, no matter in what form, and these two didn’t disappoint.

  35. kathryninthekitchen April 12, 2019 at 1:13 AM - Reply

    What an amazing experience. The colours are wonderful and the photos made me smile with there warmth and beauty. I have not tried Peruvian food but from this recipe ai think I would like it a lot… lovely!

  36. olivesandfeta April 12, 2019 at 5:04 AM - Reply

    Oh my goodness! How exotic to visit south America. The colours, vibe and food must of been a wonderful experience. Loved the pictures.

    • chef mimi April 12, 2019 at 7:34 AM - Reply

      Thank you. It was quite exotic. It’s not at all like visiting Ireland or France! A lot of poverty that I have a hard time seeing. But all of the good parts, like the food and scenery, were fabulous!

  37. sippitysup April 16, 2019 at 6:18 PM - Reply

    Peru remains one of the most memorable trips of my lifetime. And the food, as you describe so well, stands out gloriously. GREG

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 6:40 PM - Reply

      You’re so lucky you got to go at a young age! It was a magical time for sure.

  38. Michelle April 19, 2019 at 8:37 PM - Reply

    What colors! Glad you had a wonderful time.

    • chef mimi April 20, 2019 at 7:13 AM - Reply

      A long awaited trip. Pretty fantastic!

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