Martin Morales is not your typical chef and restauranteur. While he grew up cooking and being immersed in Peruvian cooking, he didn't always know he was going to open a restaurant. Instead, he was fully immersed in the pop music scene, working for iTunes and Disney—he was the man who brought names like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers to Europe. It wasn't until 2010 that he decided to drop everything and open is first London restaurant, Ceviche, a restaurant devoted to merging the bright, fun flavors of Peru with the dedication of a top-notch restaurant kitchen.
Morales's new cookbook, Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen, is based on recipes from the restaurant as well as favorites from his childhood in Lima. As should be expected, there are many good recipes for ceviche in the book, but it is the heartier dishes that are more interesting. Peru is, after all, both a mountainous and coastal country, with broad international influence from countries as disparate as China and Morocco. Most of us are likely familiar with its oceanic cuisine and its now-famous pseudo-grain, quinoa, but Ceviche paints a broader picture. In it, Morales features dishes like blood sausage, chile-laced pasta, and even beef stir-fries, all just as popular in Peru as their prized potatoes. It's an excellent learning experience.
Ceviche is a reprint of the British version of the cookbook, and there was clearly a lot of care put into the recipe conversions. Measurements come in both metric and US, but the procedures are all clearly intended for an American audience. (It may seem like a small thing, but I have been surprised by how many American printings are sloppily done.) Morales's food isn't difficult to prepare, but many recipes contain hidden steps (chile pastes and the like) that should be noted. His flavors are just surprising enough to give the food excitement while still retaining a background of familiarity. And if you're not excited about cooking with rabbit or blood sausage, there are plenty of refreshing, easy seafood dishes—not to mention cocktails—to explore.
This week, we'll get our fill of Peruvian specialities, starting with Morales's signature Don Ceviche. Later on, we'll toss together a bean, tomato, and cheese salad called ensalada miraflores, steam fresh corn and cheese tamales, and toss together a simple, fruity mango ceviche. Finally, we'll round out the week with a twist on a classic guinea pig dish, using easier-to-find rabbit and an abundance of chiles.
Win 'Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen'
Thanks to our friends at Ten Speed Press, we have five (5) copies of Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen to give away this week. All you need to do for a chance to win a copy is to tell us your favorite Peruvian food in the comments section below.