Peruvian Food

Sunday’s Chef: From Tradition to Fusion, Coastal Style Tiradito

Fine and subtle, the tiradito costeño, one of Peru’s amazing fish dishes, has a great presence from the moment it leaves the kitchen.  It emanates freshness wherever it goes.  This dish from the sea is one of the main first courses whether in small, “ma and pa” restaurants, or in five star ones found in the most exclusive of places.

The origin of this dish is neither more nor less than the coast of Lima.  In the hands of the fishermen and the cevicheros (the sellers of ceviche) in carts on the edge of the coast.  They say that the fishermen always carry a couple of limes with them so that if their day goes long and hunger attacks them they can fillet a fish.  They would cut it thin strips so that it would marinate quickly and then add to it drops of lime juice, fresh squeezed from the limes they carried, along with a bit of salt and they would eat it up.  They would do the same thing with scallops, but without cutting them.  This snack would calm the stomach until they could get home.

The cevicheros also had a role according to tradition.  When they would cut the fish to make ceviche, they would save the remains and from them make their famous tiradito.

Fresh Fish Arriving on the Coast
Fresh Fish Arriving on the Coast

This dish has lots of variation, like many of Peru’s traditional foods.  You can use for the marinade an almost infinite range of ají pastes (ground hot peppers with water and oil), lime, and seasonings of choice.  But you can always create your own sauce.  Nothing is locked off.  The fish that are most generally used for this dish are white fleshed fish such as grouper, fine flounder, or the corvina drum.

The community of chefs in the Asian traditions within Peru did not sit with their hands crossed while all this was taking place.  They too developed tiraditos and placed them on their menus.  They joined Oriental ingredients with the fish giving new and intense flavors;  subtle, sweet, or strong (such as wasabi).  They would mix the precise ingredients to obtain a harmony of flavors that would permit them to enjoy each of them without hiding any.

Passion Fruit Tiradito
Passion Fruit Tiradito

In sum, any option for making tiradito is indicated for the person who follows the adventure of trying this dish, whether as a fusion of cuisines or following the Peruvian tradition.  Personally, I like the traditional way and I think sticking to tradition is a good way to maintain the depth of a cuisine.


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