I hope everyone had a great Easter! I am back to home sweet home Cajamarca after a few weeks on the road, first in Brazil then in Lima. I loved loved loved Lima. The fact that it’s by the sea is just the cherry on top of a delectable cake of exciting things this city has to offer. It’s surprisingly modern and buzzing with cultural life, though I have to admit I mostly stayed in the nicer neighborhoods (Miraflores, Barranco) because of work and didn’t have time to venture out to the more “local” parts of town. Fortunately I had visited those parts a while back during my first visit to Peru. This time I was there during fashion week – because yes, there’s a Peruvian fashion week! I should have known, with all the world-reknown Peruvian crafts and textiles, especially Alpaca which is becoming the new Cashmere, there are loads of fashion industries coming to Peru to source quality materials. Keep your eye out, I have a feeling hand-woven wool ponchos are going to make a comeback this Winter.
But what I loved the most about Lima? The food! Don’t act surprised. Did you know that Lima is becoming the next food capital of South America and possibly the world? I’m not making this up. It might seem like I am, what with all of the over-enthused wide-encompassing statements like Alpaca is the new Cashmere and all, but it’s no joke. The food scene in Lima is really everything they say it to be. The Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio has been named one of the best in the world and has spread Peruvian cuisine in 12 different countries. Ceviche is more than just a raw fish appetizer, it’s become a whole menu concept. There’s also a wide array of available choices in Lima in international gastronomy like steakhouses, Italian, French, German and Asian cuisine, which is a sign that it’s attracting international chefs and that Peruvian’s are expanding their gastronomical curiosity; but what’s really exciting is also how more and more restaurants are revisiting, upgrading and developing new appreciation around traditional Peruvian cuisine. Everyday mainstream ingredients such as Andean tubers and local meats from the Highlands and the Amazon (including goat, lizzard and guinea pig!) are combined with native fruit such as mango (mango ceviche for example), elderberry, plantain, tomate de arbol and Incan Berry or used to inspire “fusion” menus such as Peruvian-Mediterranean or Peruvian-Japanese cuisine. If you are ever making the trip down to Peru and are considering spending a few days in Lima, I highly recommend it! Restaurants to try include – among sooo many more – La Mar (Ceviche), Astrid & Gaston (Peruvian), Saqra (Peruvian-Mediterranean), and Pescados Capitales (Seafood). Oh the Seafood.
Speaking of seafood, back in Cajamarca, the only local fish I have access to here are fresh water crayfish and rainbow trout. I know, nothing to complain about honestly. So I decided to try something out with trout. It’s an excellent fatty fish, making it a great source of Omega 3s like Salmon, Tuna or Mackerel. And Trout Amandine – Trout served with a buttery sauce and almonds – is one of my favorites. In France, Trout, Sole or Sea Bass Amandine is a classic, but one of the most memorable times I had this dish was in Bolivia, on the border of Lake Titicaca, where rainbow trout is the local fish. It was my backpacking friend’s birthday and she was stomach sick from all our bus traveling, but we ended up having an incredible night which started out with trout amandine and ended with one too many cocktails in a salsa bar. Of course, the traditional trout amandine requires pan-frying a floured trout fillet and serving it with extra butter and toasted almonds. Delicious, granted, but I had to adapt it to gluten-free standards. So I went with oven-baking the fillets without any flour/crust and making a brown butter sauce on the side. To be honest, I didn’t even remember that the trout was breaded in the original recipe until I looked it up, so believe me when I say that crusting the fish would only distract you and your tastebuds from the actual deliciousness of this recipe which is the combination of a high quality piece of fish, brown butter and almonds.
Recipe: Brown Butter Trout Amandine
4 Rainbow Trout Fillets
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 stick butter (56g or 4 Tbsp)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. Season trout fillets with salt, pepper and the olive oil, rubbing lightly on both sides, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, skin side down. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until fish pricked with a fork flakes easily.
3. Heat a pan over medium heat and toast the slivered almonds for 3-5 minutes until light brown, stirring constantly to avoid from burning. Transfer to a small bowl. Reserve a few handfuls for garnishing.
4. In the same pan on medium heat, prepare the brown butter: melt the butter and cook, stirring gently, until it turns brown and starts to smell nutty (about 6-7 minutes on medium heat). Transfer to the bowl with the almonds immediately to avoid from burning. Add the chopped parsley to the sauce and stir to combine.
5. Remove trout from oven and pour the butter sauce over the fillets. Serve garnished with extra toasted almonds.