Rice with seafood is a northern dish that is well recognized within Peruvian gastronomy where it is a classic, even though its taste varies when it is made in the three different regions of the country. It is simply one of the most ordered dishes in norteño restaurants and in cevicherías in Cusco.
I remember having eaten it on many occasions. It is a colorful and tasty dish where all the seafood stands out along with the wonderful taste of yellow aji and tomato has many fans who love it and ask for it daily.
On the coast, it flavor is amazing and incomparable, as it also is in the highlands and jungle thanks to air shipment of fresh shellfish. As a result, the seafood is as fresh as can be to make a good preparation.
At lunchtime, it is a delight to eat this dish. Last week the kitchen of Cusco Eats received a visit from our friend Chef Huber, who has ample experience in the restaurants of our city. He had spoken to us about how much he loved the seafood of Cusco and offered to make up for us an arroz con mariscos that was faithful to the traditional northern dish.
Walter, Natalie, and I joined Chef Huber to go to the market of Wanchaq to find the ingredients. We bought as we walked through the sections of shellfish, vegetables, and groceries. On leaving the market we had a bag filled with the needed ingredients: white rice, fresh unpeeled shrimp, fresh calamares, clams, mussels, scallops, octopus, onion, tomatoes, garlic, yellow ají, a handful of green peas, fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, and cooking oil.
Once back at the office, Huber began by washing and cleaning all the seafood. He sliced the calamares and the octopus in rings and the vegetables in small squares. While his hands were at work, he told us experiences he had in his restaurant jobs. In the last cevichería where he worked, he had to prepare 100 to 120 plates of rice with seafood (arroz con mariscos) each day, besides all the ceviches, parihuelas, and chilcanos.
When he fired up the stove, we could appreciate his skill and art. All of the ingredients were ready, selected, and organized for cooking. While the rice and peas cooked, his hands were removing the leaves of cilantro from the stems and then mincing them. Every time I came back to the kitchen I found different scents. The seafood and vegetables cooking tempted us to taste them and delight.
When the preparation was ready for the rice and the seafood with vegetables to be mixed together, Huber told us it was time to set the table. The part of Cusco Eat’s team that was here felt excited with the decoration fo the dish and smelling the aroma when Chef Huber dished it up. We were anxious to get the table and chairs set up properly.
Each plate of food had an abundant serving with a tempting reddish color. On tasting it our mouths tasted the mixture of rice with all the soft and tempting seafood and vegetables. It was a delight and wonder to enjoy this classic food from our ocean.
Here is a video in which is resumed the work Chef Huber carried out to make this treasure.