If asked to describe Latin American cooking several years ago, I would have cluelessly replied something about giant blobs of sour cream, guacamole, and dripping cheese sauce—the familiar American take on the cuisine.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to dive into a plate of nachos the size of a Thanksgiving turkey, but the authentic cuisines of Mexico, Peru, Chile, and other South American countries are much healthier and far less heavy. Sorry, sour cream and puddles of melted Velveeta do not exist south of the border.
I have had the good fortune to become friends with the Peruvian owner of a South American grocery store here in Easton, and I began my quest for authentic Latin cuisine with him. I also contacted a Mexican friend of mine, and I was not disappointed in what they told me. The recipes that follow are easy to prepare with ingredients readily available online, from Latin American markets, or from the international aisle of large supermarkets.
The steak a lo pobre is classic hearty food from Chile that is easy to make and filling. The chicken dish or aji de gallina is Peruvian, tasty and different, and you can adjust the spice to your liking. The refreshing Mexican beet and apple salad is a family recipe from my friend. Various empanada recipes can be found all over South America, but I find this version, made with seafood, to be particularly delicious.
Give these dishes a try and see if they don’t forever change your perception of Latin American food. You may never dump sour cream on a burrito again!
- Aji de Gallina or Chicken with Yellow Pepper Sauce
- Grilled Steak a lo Pobre
- Pickled Beets, Apples, Oranges and Pecans
- Mixed Seafood Empanadas
Andrew Evans is the chef at Easton’s Thai Ki.