Peruvian Cooking with Flor Arcaya de Deliot

I’ve always found that experiences are far more pleasurable than possessions. I’m the sort of person who’d far rather spend £300 pound on a trip away, than on a designer handbag, so it goes without saying that my favourite presents are experiences rather than gifts.

Flor Arcaya de Deliot cookbook for peruvian cooking and recipesFor my birthday this year, I was given a Peruvian cookery lesson with Flor Arcaya de Deliot, a Peruvian cook and author of ‘The Food and Cooking of Peru’ cookbook.

Flor Arcaya de Deliot was born and raised in Lima in Peru, but now lives in South West London. Flor loves Peruvian food and, like me, wants more people to experience real Peruvian cooking.

As well as writing cookery books, Flor offers a Peruvian catering service and cookery lessons in her home.

It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to cook with a published Peruvian chef in her own home – I was really excited. So one Sunday morning, we travelled over to Flor’s house in Richmond, where she greeted us warmly and cooked us a hearty Peruvian four course meal.

Course One – Huancaina Sauce and Peruvian Nibbles

Much to my delight, Flor agreed to show me how to make my favourite Peruvian Huancaina Sauce. Huancaina sauce is a creamy, nutty, chilli cheese sauce often served with potatoes or as a dressing to a causa rellena. I’ve never attempted to make this lovely sauce as all recipes included the aji amarillo chilli pepper, which isn’t easily found in this country. I asked Flor for a recipe for Huancaina that didn’t depend on this elusive yellow chilli.  Well, she did better than that…she gave me two recipes!

Huancaina recipe number 1
 Huancaina Sauce Recipe with feta, crackers, chilli and peanuts

For the first sauce she used a simple recipe of mascarpone cheese, mixed with her signature garlic chilli sauce and a squeeze of lemon. The second sauce was made by blending feta cheese, salted crackers, red chilli, evaporated milk, lemon and peanuts. Both very simple to make and not a single yellow chilli in sight!
Fried Cassava with Huancaina Sauce

 
Huancaina Sauce with nibbles
Served with the classic Peruvian sides of potatoes, boiled eggs, cassava fries and corn.

Course 2 – Chupe de Camarones

During my time in Peru, I learnt that Peruvians love seafood, especially along the coast. A typical Arequipeñan (from Arequipa) dish is Chupe de Camarones, a creamy prawn chowder with tomatoes, rice and corn. Of course, when I mentioned to Flor that I’d tried this in Arequipa, she was keen to make it for me.

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Chupe de Camarones - Peruvian Prawn Chowder from Arequipa

Cooked prawns shells for Flor's Chupe de Camarones
Chupe de Camarones, Peruvian Prawn Chowder with egg, corn, potato and milk

We peeled and prepared the prawns ourselves, before Flor threw the shells and heads into a pan to cook them, so that they turn pink. The heads and shells have most of the flavour and colour, so she wrapped them up in thin material bag and added them to the stew to cook. The chowder ingredients also included evaporated milk, garlic, onion, sweet corn, potatoes, rice and eggs.

Chuped de Camarones, Flor Arcaya de Deliot's Peruvian prawn chowder This hearty stew was full of flavour and texture. Even better than I remembered it.

Course 3 – Seco de Carne 

When I asked Flor if she’d been to many of the new Peruvian restaurants in London, she said she that she had, but they weren’t “real Peruvian.” Instead, they are what she called “experimental Peruvian”. Sure, they make Peruvian dishes like ceviche and causa rellena, but the chefs play around with the ingredients, focusing on the presentation and the innovation, rather than promoting what the essence of Peruvian food is all about: hearty home-cooking.

So for our third course, it’s no surprise that Flor made us an authentic Peruvian ‘dry’ stew – seco de carne. This dry beef stew is found all over Peru, eaten in homes and in restaurants.

Cassava and fresh coriander
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Seco de Carne with cassava, potato and rice

I’ve never seen so much coriander put in one dish before! Two huge bunches of coriander, blended with onion, garlic and water, make the basis of this pungent stew. As Flor put so simply:

“If you prepare any stew, fry an onion with it.”

Now I love coriander, so the smell and taste was delicious, but I did find the dish a bit too dry for my tastes. However, the meat was tender and the boiled cassava was a real treat.

Course 4 – Homemade Lucuma and Mango Ice Cream

I’ve never tried to make ice cream before. My mum used to have one of those ice-cream makers, but I’ve never really given it a try. I was excited to try making it from scratch and it turned out to be quite labour-intensive! This was the first thing that Flor prepared, so that it had four hours to freeze.

The mango ice cream was made from fresh mango, caster sugar and whisked evaporated milk. Lucuma is a fruit native to the Andean valleys of Peru and rare in this country, so the only way of getting hold of it is in powder form.

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I was a big fan of the mango ice cream, which had just the right level of sweetness versus the freshness of the mango. The lucuma ice cream had a good flavour but the consistency was notably drier due to the powder. I did still take some of the powder home with me though (thanks Flor!) so I will try to reproduce the recipe again in the future.

Machu Kitchen Flor Arcaya de Deliot and Stephanie

Four courses and five hours later, we were finished and full. It was a fantastic experience learning to make real Peruvian food from a native Peruvian cook. I learnt a lot about Peruvian food and flavours, as well as some general cooking advice from Flor. She’s a lovely lady who just wants to teach more people about Peruvian food.

I highly recommend Flor’s cookery books and loved my cooking class experience.

Like Flor’s Peruvian Kitchen on Facebook or visit her website: www.peruviancookery.com

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6 responses to “Peruvian Cooking with Flor Arcaya de Deliot

  1. I enjoyed the whole morning together, the preparation, the working but most of all, the lovely company. I have had some people coming to learn our cooking ways, but not such young and bright ones. You really learnt how to peel and clean the prawns, to peel the cassava and to prepare the dishes. Thanks a lot for this wonderful post.

  2. Thanks for the great post Stephanie, I am still waiting for Peruvian food to reach as far north as Manchester but hopefully it will be on it’s way up from London!!

    I’m doing a bit of research for a new site I’m launching stocking Peruvian ingredients in the UK for the first time. We’re looking at yellow amarilllo chillies, aji panca, aji rocoto, and various grains and pulses to start with… got to start somewhere!

    At the moment I’m trying to canvas some opinion on what people would be looking for in a Peruvian food store – is there any ingredients you’d particularly like?

    Any feedback on the website would be massively appreciated… http://www.vivaperu.co.uk.

    Hope to hear from you soon and thank you for spreading the Peruvian word 🙂
    Adam

    • Hi Adam,
      I would want to find aji amarillo as pretty much all the best recipes use it! A decent aji amarillo paste would do. Maybe pisco?!
      Glad you enjoy the posts…I’m hoping to get some more up soon.
      Good luck with the food store! Viva Peru indeed.
      Stephanie

      • Thanks Stephanie! It’s live now and of course aji amarillo is amongst the range – which is growing all the time. I’d love to sell pisco too but I don’t have a licence at the mo so that one will have to wait!
        Saludos,
        Adam

      • Hi Stephanie,
        I understand your frustration for the lack of aji amarillo where you live. That is why I have created a recipe of “an almost true” aji amarillo. It is in my cookbook: “Maya’s Secrets”, which is available through amazon.com. You can actually get a kindle version under US$ 8. BTW: Flor Arcaya is one of my best briends. We went to school to
        BTW

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