Anticuchos: Dreaming of Peru


It has been quite a few years since our trip to Peru, but it still ranks as one of my best and most-memorable. Peru was one of the first big trips that Royce and I took together — and in fact it wasn’t just the two of us, we made the journey with some of his family. About a month ago, most of the trip members were briefly reunited and it was the perfect opportunity for Royce and I to prepare a menu that I have been talking about for the last few years. 

Rather than prepare some of the things that we really enjoyed eating on the trip (and sure, there were a lot of those), what I have been dying to make is the things that we couldn’t eat. To elaborate a little, we were scheduled to leave for a four-day trek from Cusco, but we had a day to explore before we left. We were given serious warnings to avoid too much local food, as it would likely cause a lot of trouble for our foreign-stomachs. Unfortunately for us, the local food looked and smelled AMAZING. This dinner was meant to be my homage to all of that un-eaten deliciousness. The star of the show would be the anticuchos.

We saw anticuchos on corners all over the city, kind of like the hot dog vendors that we have here. Basically, they are grilled skewers of cheaper cuts of meat (beef heart is common). The recipe we used is as follows (adapted from Peru, by Gastón Acurio). Note: this is traditionally served with potatoes, corn, and rocoto chili paste, but we were happy to eat it straight off the grill.

  • 250 mL of ají panca paste (we couldn’t find any fresh chilis, but the paste was available at a local grocery store, so we used a jar of that).
  • 4 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • beef heart, sliced thinly (and/or chicken hearts)
  1. Blend the first 7 ingredients until smooth, let rest for 1-2 hours.
  2. Marinade the sliced beef heart (or whole chicken hearts) in the mixture for 3-4 hours.
  3. Skewer meat and grill (pref. over charcoal).

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