Peruvian Plates at Sabor Peruano

Santafe.com - June 14, 2017

New restaurant showcases the unique flavors of Peru

If you've never been to Peru—land of the fabled Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, the Amazon rainforest and the floating islands of Lake Titicaca— take a trip over to Sabor Peruano, where the unique flavors of traditional Peruvian cuisine will transport you there.

You'll forget that you're dining in a Santa Fe shopping mall as soon as you taste this flavorful food, representative of a country that produces a staggering variety of indigenous ingredients—chile, corn and other ancient grains, and some 4,000 kinds of potatoes! Peru's cuisine is unlike any other, reflecting influences from the 16th-century Spanish conquest of Incan king Atahualpa to the colonists who brought their European stews, sauces, and casseroles to the region and the 19th-century immigrant workers from Guangdong Province, who introduced woks and stir fries to Peruvian cooks.

The creation of sisters Adriana Brawley and Susana Hamilton, both originally from Peru, Sabor Peruano pays tribute to Peru's rich culinary history with a diverse menu featuring some of the Peru's most popular fare. Lomo de Saltada—made with wok-sautéed beef tenderloin, tomatoes, peppers, onions and spices and served with rice and French fries—is part of the chifa tradition, a fusion of local ingredients prepared with recipes and techniques from the Chinese immigrants who came to Peru in the late 19th century as laborers and servants. Sabor Peruano also offers a vegan version of this dish made with seitan and gluten-free rice.

Aji de Gallina, another traditional Peruvian dish, combines pulled chicken breast with a creamy yellow pepper-peanut sauce, accompanied by hard-boiled egg, olives, potatoes and steamed white rice, all sprinkled with Parmesan. Sauces are prominent in Peru dishes, and this one is popular in restaurant fare as well as family meals.

Peru is the potato capitol of the world, so it's no surprise to find many varieties included in the traditional dishes served here, including Papa a la Huancaina, which originated in the mountain city of Huancayo. A sliced boiled potato topped with cheese and Peruvian yellow chili pepper sauce, the dish is heated by the aji amarillo, a culinary staple in Peru. Papa Rellena, or Peruvian stuffed potato, is a mashed potato stuffed with ground chicken, eggs, onion, olives, raisins and spices then deep fried and served with salsa criolla. There's also Causa Rellena Lumena, a Peruvian layered potato dish made with mashed yellow potato and Key lime, Peruvian yellow chile stuffed with chicken, mayo and avocado.

Quinoa is an indigenous ingredient in Peru and it's the star in some of the soups and salads at Sabor Peruano. Sopa de Quinua, which originated in the Andes, is made with potatoes, of course, as well as organic quinoa carrots, leeks, onions and a simple chicken broth base.Ensalada de Quinua showcases this “mother of all grains,”served with romaine, cherry tomato, avocado, red bell pepper, Parmesan cheese and Peruvian vinaigrette.

Other dishes include Peruvian empanadas, stuffed with beef, chicken or a cheese and spinach combo, served with lemon slices. Sabor Peruano also serves Saturday specials such as  Peruvian ceviche and Chupe de Camarones, or shrimp chowder with rice.

Be sure to leave room for dessert as you won't find anything like the dulces here anywhere else in the city. From Pastel de Choclo—a creamy sweet corn pie with raisins, pecans and coconut on top—to Mazamorra Moradais, made with boiled Peruvian purple corn, cinnamon, fresh fruit and lemon juice, Sabor Peruano's sweet treats are uniquely delicious and representative of one of the world's most varied cuisines, which is inextricably linked with Peruvian history and culture and an individual expression of identity.

To enhance the feeling that you're in Peru, half of Sabor Peruano is a retail space brimming with handcrafted Peruvian goods—ponchos, shawls, shoes and bags and more—that you can purchase and take home as a talisman of your visit. And on the first Saturday of every month, Sabor Peruano joins Devargas Center in co-hosting a chess tournament for players of all ages, a game played around the world, reflecting the myriad global influences that have a contribution to Peruvian cuisine.