Peruvian Tiradito Explained

Peruvian Tiradito

I’ve got more culinary delights to share from my recent trip to South America. The first stop we made was in Lima, Peru. The oldest parts of Lima are rich in Spanish colonial history. Architecture buffs could wander the streets in awe for days. While its connection to ancient Incan civilization will keep a visitor occupied even longer. However, I fall into the category of gastro-tourist and the new Lima is so rich gastronomically that it puts many of the world’s other great cities to shame. In fact thanks to the time I spent on Visit Peru’s, Cooking in Peru website, I came to Lima para la cocina: for the food. In the process I became a fanatic for Peruvian Tiradito.

It’s tempting to compare Tiradito to the National dish of Peru– Ceviche (where it’s known as Cebiche). Both are fresh, raw seafood dishes that have been “cooked” by citrus juice. However, Cebiche has the bold pungency of onions, and uses sweet potatoes and oversize kernels of corn (choclo) to balance the bracing marinade. Tiradito uses more subtle charms to bring the sweet, raw fish into focus.

One of the main purposes of my trip was to learn as much as I could about Peruvian cooking, then share some of that knowledge here. The first thing I learned in preparation for this trip is that Peru has a 500-year tradition of Italian, Spanish, African, Japanese and Chinese immigration mixed with the native Quechua culture. Making modern day Lima a highly creative culinary melting pot.

I also learned that most Latin cultures make some version of Cebiche. However, Peruvians claim this dish as their own and insist it was first developed in Peru. Which may explain why Peruvian Cebiche tends to limit itself to indigenous ingredients like Pacific seafood, Andean potatoes and choclo, as well as native onions.

Tiradito leaves more room for experimentation. Good Tiradito embraces its fusion roots and is influenced by Japanese Sashimi and Italian Crudo. Both feature fish that is thinly sliced– as opposed to cut into chunks or dice, as is the case of Cebiche. Onions are also omitted from the mix. The taste is intended to be more subtle and to highlight the fresh fish. Adding to the subtlety is the marination method. Tiradito is sauced just a few minutes before it’s served.

Tiradito

Of course the key to good Tiradito is the freshness of the fish. The joke I heard said that the fish must have been sleeping in the sea the night before, and still wearing its pajamas when served.

The other important element in Tiradito is elegantly sliced and presented seafood. It takes some skill to master this aspect of Tiradito. Truthfully, my slices could be a bit thinner, and my arrangement more refined. The trick is to use a long, thin, very sharp knife to glide through the flesh in singular, fluid movements. Sawing or hacking through the fish only leads to trouble (and a knuckle-whacking from the teacher). The fish must also be very cold. It’s then cut on a slight bias against the grain AND at a strong horizontal angle to the cutting board. It takes practice, and I plan to practice– so check back. GREG

I received compensation in order to bring information about the food of Peru to this blog. All opinions are my own.

Peruvian TiraditoTiradito Sauceraw fish for tiradito

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Tiradito de Pescado

tiradito de pescado

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon yellow aji pepper paste (or more to taste, see note)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon mild flavored oil
  • 3 thin slices fresh ginger
  • clove garlic (peeled and lightly smashed)
  • 1 pound very fresh white fish (such as sea bass, mahi mahi, or flounder)
  • ¼ cup fresh raw corn kernels (or cooked Peruvian choclo if you can find it)
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro (or to taste)

Directions

Make the tiradito sauce: In medium bowl whisk together aji paste, lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, and oil. Drop in ginger slices and smashed garlic clove; set aside in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes, then remove and discard ginger slices and garlic clove. The sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead of time to this point. Store covered and refrigerated.

When ready to serve: Thinly slice the fish on a slight bias against the grain. Make the slices as thin as you can manage, no more than ¼-inch thick. Lay the fish, barely overlapping, onto a chilled serving platter. Pour enough tiradito sauce over the fish slices to thoroughly coat; you might not use all the sauce, use your judgment. Let the platter sit no more than 15 minutes.

Garnish with corn kernels and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Notes

Aji pepper is a yellow Peruvian hot chili pepper. It can be purchased as a yellow chili paste at most Latin markets.


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