Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sky Kitchen Peruvian Cooking Class

Day 2: Sky Kitchen
Several years ago I edited a family cookbook, including recipes dating back several centuries.  I wrote in the introduction that cooking old family recipes allows us to not just learn about our ancestors but to experience something with them though we are separated by time.  We taste that they tasted and smell the aromas that filled their kitchens. 
In a similar way I have a desire to grow closer to Peru and experience the cuisine, not simpy to eat it but to learn to prepare it.  I want to be able to cook what those I love think of as home cooking.  Saturday I had a wonderful afternoon doing just that at Sky Kitchen in Miraflores.  These small cooking classes are held in an open air kitchen on the roof deck of Chef Yurac Romero.  Two thirds of it is covered in fabric, offering shade from the intense Lima sun, from the open end of the deck there are beautiful views of the surrounding neighborhood.  I highly recommend this cultural experience for anyone traveling in Lima. 
Along with two other American women who are traveling through Peru on a tour, I learned to make Papa a la Huancaina, Cebiche and Aji de Gallina.  Chef Yurac speaks German and Spanish mainly, so his partner Christian Tr├╝bswetter translates as he demonstrates for us. We all follow suit.  As each dish is prepared we sit at a beautifully decorated table filled with gorgeous imported (from Ikea!) orchids and enjoy our creations.  I cannot get past the fact that cebiche is raw fish in lime juice, so I pretty much steered clear of that one.
Papa is the Peruvian word for potato.  Huancaina refers to the women of Huancayo.   Papa a la Huancaina is a dish of cold, peeled and thickly sliced potatoes covered in an aji amarillo pepper and cheese sauce.  It is served with an olive and quarter of a hardboiled egg on top.  Many dishes are garnished in this fashion. 
Next came the cebiche.  Chef Yurac buys the fish fresh just before class each time.  It is a quickly prepared dish and is particularly popular on the hottest days.  I learned that originally this was a dish of the people as fish was an inexpensive protein.  In recent years fish has increasingly been exported and the prices have risen significantly.  As a result this is now more of a treat for most people.  Chicken has become the protein of choice at the average dinner table.
Finally we prepared Aji de Gallina.  Aji is the favorite local pepper used in many dishes and served as a paste condiment at every table, alongside ketchup and mayonnaise.  A single chicken breast is stretched to serve at least four.  It is cooked and finely shredded and mixed with the aji sauce of onions garlic, pureed bread, stock, pecans and parmesan cheese.  Like the others it was served with potatoes.  This dish also had dried roasted maize and fresh maize.  I am told it is often garnished with a quarter of a hardboiled egg and one olive.  The corn here has the most amazing, huge kernels.  I loved this dish and it was a wonderful way to end the class. 
Within a couple hours of returning to the hotel I received an email with all the recipes.  I look forward to preparing these again.  For additional information about SkyKitchen please visit www.wix.com/skykitchen/peru.    They offer classes in English, Spanish and German, both lunch and dinner menus. 



Chef Yurac sets me to work at the stove. 

The beginnings of the Papa a la Huancaina sauce, aji, garlic and onions.

Lime juice is added under Chef΄s watchful eye.


The potoatoes are completely covered in sauce and garnishes added.
There are over 3,000 varieties of potato in Peru.

Papa a la Huancaina is complete. 

Christian Trubswetter and I enjoy the first dish. 

The most delicious corn.


Finishing touches to the cebiche. 




Aji de Gallina (Aji Pepper Hen)


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