Peruvian Dish: Papa a la HuancaínaTime for another glance at Peruvian food. So far I've given you an idea of some desserts (like Mazamorra, Alfajores or Milk Rice), some Chifa, some Causa, and even some Pisco Sour. Now it's time to get even more traditional.
This time I bring you one of our most famous entreés, typical from the city of Lima, where I'm from. This dish is yet another prove that many Peruvian dishes aren't really difficult to make, but the flavor they pack, that's something else. In this case you basically need our old buddy Ají, some white cheese (we call it "fresh cheese") and our noble potato. Yup, one of our major contributions to the world of food, potatoes in Peru are abundant in countless forms. We can't run this blog, without potatoes having their own post.
The time has come.
Our dish today: Papa a la Huancaína ("Huancayan" Potato)
Papa a la Huancaína is a cold entrée, a key dish of Criollan food (the food from Lima) and one of the most beloved. It is basically cooked potatoes served with a cream made with cheese and aji.
How it all began:
The history behind this dish goes back many years ago, during the construction of a railroad from the capital city Lima to the mountain area. This enormous work was in charge of a number of crews that worked at 2000 m.a.s.l. You can imagine how a project of this magnitude can wear down even the toughest worker.In consequence, people (especially women) from the Huancayan population would approach the crews with meals for lunch. Among these people, one woman stuck out because of the dish she brought: nice potatoes with a delicious cheese-based sauce and some hard-boiled egg pieces. The sauce consisted of crushed cheese mixed with minced "rocoto" (a sort of aji) and diluted with some milk. This particular dish was a hit and crews would expect this woman's arrival, calling out:
"A que hora llega la papa de la Huancaína" (What time does the Huancayan's potato arrive?)
With time, the recipe evolved. Rocoto was changed for ají and oil began to be included in the preparation. With the advance of technology, the ingredients began to be mixed with the aid of blenders, in contrast to the original mortars. However, one thing did not change, and that was the uniqueness of this dish.
The following is a simple recipe for Papa a la Huancaína:
1 kg potatoes
4 green ají
1 tbsp. sugar
500 gr. fresh cheese
1 cup milk
salt and pepper
Boil the aji (no seeds) with sugar; remove after boiling and then blend with egg-yolks, cheese, milk, lemon and oil. Add salt. Use this sauce over previously cooked (boiled) potatoes over a bed of lettuce leaves. Decorate with half a hard-boiled egg and olives.
Simple, huh? Give it a try, and when you do, let us know how it went.