Though Peruvians do not represent a huge community in Chicago, their culture and cuisine is leaving a mark in our neighborhoods.
A long history of colonization and occupation brought influences from Spanish, African, Chinese and Japanese traditions and blended them with Peru’s native flora and fauna to create a fascinating and unique food culture.
At Tanta restaurant in River North, Acurio Restaurantes corporate chef Jesus Delgado says it took some time for him to make Peruvian plates work for Chicago palates.
“When we came here we brought bigger portions, that’s how we eat in Peru, but we needed to modify a little bit. People complained about too big portions,” he said. “We modified dishes to be more sharable, to put our food in the middle of the table and share.”
A native of the Peruvian capital Lima, Delgado also had to adjust his thoughts on one of his country’s signature dishes: ceviche.
“Lima is in front of the ocean, so ceviche as a Peruvian means a sunny day in front of the ocean. For me, here it was surprising how people were eating ceviche at night, in Peru we eat ceviche in the mornings,” he said. “First thing in the morning you get up, go to the beach, have some ceviche and then your day will start. When we opened the ceviche bar just for dinner, I was surprised about that, that people love ceviche.”
Thanks to his Chinese grandfather, Delgado, who grew up in a family of cooks, says he was comfortable cooking in a wok from childhood. Delgado uses the wok to fearlessly master flame as he cooks his favorite dish, lomo saltado, in the clip below.