Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recipe: Lucy's Pachamanca a la Olla

Pachamanca is a Peruvian dish eaten since the Incas made by burying food in the earth and cooking it with hot stones. It's delicious, but not exactly the sort of thing you're going to make after getting back from a long day at work.

Traditionally it's made with a smorgasbord of meat - including guinea pig (cuy), pork, chicken and lamb.

This is an alternative pescatarian recipe from Lucy that's really easy to make at home, without digging up your back garden. The great thing about pachamanca is you don't need to follow a recipe too closely.

I really love the flavour of the huacatay herb - it's a gentle minty flavour. In Ecuador it's known as yuyo de zorro and grows wild as a weed. You might also see it called Andean black mint, southern cone marigold, or stinking roger. 
Huacatay herb
I'd never heard of it before moving to South America but apparently in Latin grocery stores it is sold as a paste to homesick expats.

Ingredients (for four people):
½ cup of huacatay herb (called Andean black pepper and in Ecuador called yuyo de zorro)½ cup of oil1 cup of white wine vinegar4 garlic clovesAj√≠ amarilloBlack pepperCuminCogollo or choclo leaves
Fish - dorado
Habas beans (broad beans)
Choclo (white corn on the cob)
Papa cholas/papa amarilla (any variety of crumbly, yellow potato will do)
Sweet potato


Method: (total preparation and cooking time approx three hours)

Marinade the fish with half of the mixture

Blend the huacatay herb with all the other spices to form a thin paste. It should be a pea green colour and the consistency of a smoothie.

I made mine with that classic Peruvian chili, the aji amarillo - it doesn't add too much heat and really reminds me of Peruvian cuisine. Also, don't spare the garlic - you'll want to use at least four cloves

Peel the vegetables, but leave the habas beans in their shell

Place all the vegetables in a large pan - the bigger the better. The ones that take the longest to cook should be at the bottom (like the yuca and the papa chola), followed by the habas beans at the very top. 

Add the rest of the huacatay mixture and cover the pan with the choclo leaves, a kitchen towel and a heavy lid. 

Cook at a very low temperature for two hours. If you're using gas, the flame should be at its lowest (but make sure it doesn't blow out). It can be really easy to burn the bottom of the pan if you're impatient, so check it regularly

When the vegetables are cooked, add the fish on the top with the rest of the sauce and cook for another 30 minutes.

Peruvians don't tend to peel any of the vegetables, but I prefer to peel the yuca, potatoes and sweet potatoes and just leave the habas beans in their shell.

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