Apr 30, 2014

Peruvian Charity Dinner: Cooking Ceviche & Quinoa

I was recently invited to an event on Facebook for an evening of Peruvian cooking class and salsa lesson. It was for a charitable cause in support of an education project in remote community of Cuzco-Peru.  I learned about Peruvian food and culture, plus enjoyed a little bit of dancing before packing things up at 8 pm. 

We learned how to make Ceviche and properly cook Quinoa (see below).


The main dish of the night was Ceviche, a famous South American costal fish dish. The dish features raw fish, in this instance we used sashimi grade Tuna, copious amounts of citrus juices (lime) and spice with aji/chili peppers. We also had onions, salt and coriander. - Wk.

This dish is actually prepared without using heat it has to be prepared carefully. However, the use of the citric juices which are acidic actually denature some of the proteins in the raw fish, which helps minimize risk of food poisoning. 

Depending on where you go there are different variations of Ceviche, we tried the Peruvian version. In Ecuador the dish is made with a tomato sauce base. In Chile, they marinate in lime and grapefruit juices and use halibut fillets instead. - Wk

The Chef: Dennis Palma-Cedeño

The chef enjoys doing charitable events, and demonstrates the organic Peruvian cooking experiences. He is Latin-American in heritage, and it was a real treat to have him show us how to prepare these dishes with his experience and perspective. He explained that this entire meal was gluten free, organic and very healthy. He has worked in various restaurants (e.g. Sheraton) and is now co-owner of Hunter's Landing

You can see the Ceviche sauce soaking the tuna; which gives it the appearance of being slightly cooked. The marinade was very tangy and fresh tasting. We were served with some slices of mango. 

These were many of the ingredients used to make the Ceviche. All organic, fresh and gluten free.

Purple Corn

The "purple corn" you see in the picture is Peruvian corn native to the Andes in South American. Unlike the westernized yellow corn is actually tastes very starchy, almost like potato or taro. It is used to create a popular drink called chicha morada (which you boil with pineapple, cinnamon, clove and sugar). Its been used in the past as a food dye.

Cooking Quinoa 101

Quinoa actually originated in the Andes 3000-4000 years ago of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru, and was considered sacred by the Incas. Its healthy, containing essential amino acids, magnesium (58% of our daily needs) calcium, phosphorus and iron. Its also an important source of protein.

A bowl of Quinoa for visitors to feel the texture of the grain.

The chef explaining the origin and how to cook Quinoa.

Some of the fresh ingredients used to cook the Quinoa. 

Quinoa actually has a bitter outer-layer consisting of "saponins" which you can wash off by rinsing before you actually cook. This is similar to how I cook white rice, rinsing it before bringing cooking it: 

The chef explained it is best to actually ensure you at the VERY LEAST use sea salt to boil the Quinoa. If you are interested in using a vegetable or chicken broth, do this after. As cooking is about building flavours. He boiled the Quinoa for 15 minutes.

The Quinoa was served with different dressings.

It was a real treat to be able to experience food in a totally different way - getting to meet and speak with the chef, having the history and culture behind the foods explained, and enjoying foods prepared in front of you with local fresh ingredients. I was invited by a friend on a whim, but really glad I had the opportunity to go!


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  1. That sounds really exciting and you've captured it quite well Annie! Too bad I missed it :(

  2. Holy, good writing! I feel like I was there!

  3. Hey Michael, thanks so much for the feedback :D Definitely made my day!

  4. Hey Madhur, definitely next time! Maybe you can give me tips on how to take "food photography"