The northern coast of Peru is renowned for its beautiful beaches, excellent surfing and warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. The climate of this area is distinct from the country’s upland and tropical Amazon regions. Here, the ecology is influenced by the Humboldt Current. The warm waters provide excellent habitat for fish and shellfish, which form a major element of the area’s food traditions.
The region’s cuisine traces its history back to the earliest roots of Peruvian civilization, particularly the pre-Incan Lambayeque, Sicán and Moche cultures. Ancient canals, some more than 5,000 years old, crossed the dry inland deserts to bring water to agricultural terraces and cities. Squash, beans and corn were grown as early as 3800 B.C. Many dishes now considered as classic Peruvian cuisine originated in this area. Rich fish stews, marinated seafood, grilled meats and vegetables steamed with herbs and spices form the core of the spicy, savory culinary repertoire of the northern coast.
The town of Moche, located about 16 miles south of Trujillo, continues Peruvian food traditions that date back almost 2,000 years. Preparation of flavorful stews have been handed down through the generations. Picante de mariscos combines a medley of shellfish such as mussels, clams and shrimp in a creamy sauce highlighted with the smoky flavors of aji mirasol, a spicy Peruvian pepper. In chinguirito, a variation of cebiche, guitarfish is dried and shredded, then marinated with lime, red onion and aji limo. The Moche domesticated the duck, a meat popular in the region. In arroz con pato, duck is marinated overnight in chicha, or corn beer, then stewed and served over rice.
Sweets complement the spicy, savory main fare. King Kong de manjar blanco is a favorite dessert from the Lambayeque area. Layers of cake-like biscuits are filled with thick caramel custard, fruit marmalade and peanuts.
Chef Carlos Altamirano of La Costanera Restaurant draws on his Peruvian heritage to offer fresh seafood dishes that highlight the flavors of the northern coast. Chilies grown in the chef’s garden add spice. A variety of cebiches featuring mussels, calamari and fresh fish are bathed in sauces such as leche de tigre, antichuco and tiradito. Enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco at Montara Bay, and savor the flavors of classic Peruvian cuisine at this Michelin-starred Peruvian restaurant.