Corn Pie with Beef (Pastel de Choclo con Carne)

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Living abroad I miss my family of course. But the second thing I miss the most is the food. I realize now, how spoiled (in terms of food) I was growing up. By that I mean; Peru is such a rich agricultural country. I grew up eating a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, seafood, etc. If there is something all Peruvians have in common is pride in our cuisine. I love to cook so of course, I find myself not missing everything. The things I can recreate here, I do make. But things like eating a fresh mango or making a truly Peruvian ceviche, I can’t. The mangos that you find here are shipped still green and of course you can taste the difference. And a ceviche without the very sour Peruvian lime, can be nice, but is not amazing. I remember when I was taking a cooking course in Lyon, one of the French chefs told me he smuggled some Peruvian lime in his suitcase.

One of the things I miss is our corn. The texture and flavor is very different to the yellow one you find everywhere else in the world. I miss eating it just boiled with some chili sauce on top. This is what it looks like:

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This corn pie is very popular in Chile and Peru. I loved eating it for the ‘lonche’ (tea time). Since in Peru you have dinner quite late.  I used to have dinner at around 9pm. Now whenever we are in Lima. We want to eat earlier, since here we eat at 6pm. My mom always jokes and calls me a granny for eating so early.  At least we beat the crowds whenever we are there and we want to dine out.

I have been making this recipe for years and if I make it in Peru, I don’t need to add the corn meal. The texture of the Peruvian corn is dense enough to hold the rest of the ingredients. But here, using the yellow corn, I do need to add some corn meal, otherwise the mixture is too soggy. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, cook the meat mixture in a pan and then assemble the dish like a shepherd’s pie in an oven dish. The filling is usually made with minced meat. But it is nicer to make it with steak if you can.

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Ingredients:

For the beef filling:

450gr beef steak, diced

1 red onion, chopped

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of tomato puree

1 teaspoon of sugar

¼ cup raisins

2 boiled eggs, chopped

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

For the corn mixture:

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 white onion, chopped

4 fresh corns on the cob

250ml cream

10 tablespoons of corn meal

1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce

40gr grated Parmesan

1 egg

Salt

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, sear the meat. Then add the onions, tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the minced garlic, raisins, olives, sugar, boiled eggs, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is mixed. Then turn off the heat and set aside.

Remove the corn kernels from the cob. Place the kernels in a blender along with the cream and corn meal.  Blend it until everything is combined.

In a large pan, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Over medium heat, cook the white onion until translucent. Add the corn mixture, sriracha and salt. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You want it to thicken and to dry a bit. After the 4 minutes are done, turn off the heat. Off the heat, add the egg and parmesan. Stir until everything is combined.

Pour the corn mixture over the meat in the skillet. Make sure to spread it out so it covers the whole surface of the skillet. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

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Causa with Spicy tuna

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This is a very popular Peruvian dish. My mom taught me how to make it as a little kid. I would make it so often, even when no one else felt like it in the house. I would just make a small portion for myself whenever I craved it.

It is usually served with 2 layers of potato dough with filling in the middle.  You can make the filling with many different ingredients.  At home it is usually served filled with chicken or tuna salad. In restaurants, you usually find options with tuna, shrimp, crab or octopus.

In Peru, there are a lot Japanese immigrants which led to Nikkei cuisine (Peruvian-Japanese fusion). This dish is an example of that.

For this recipe you need Aji Amarillo paste, which is a Peruvian chili paste, and you can find it at most Latin American stores or online. In Amsterdam, they sometimes have it at Tijns’s Toko. There is also a Peruvian store in Paris called EL INTI – La Boutique péruvienne which always has it and they deliver within the European Union.

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Ingredients:

For the causa:

1 kilo of russet potatoes

5 tablespoons of Aji Amarillo paste

Juice of 2 limes

½ teaspoon of salt

2 ½ tablespoons of vegetable oil

For the spicy tuna:

300gr of raw tuna

3 tablespoons of mayonnaise

½ teaspoon of wasabi paste, or more to taste

1 teaspoon of togarashi, or more to taste

Salt

Pepper

For the toppings:

1 avocado, diced

1 spring onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

 

First, boil the potatoes until they are very tender. Then peel and mash them while they are still hot. Make sure there aren’t any lumps.  You want it as smooth as possible.

Add the aji amarillo paste, lime juice, salt and vegetable oil.  Mix it with your hands. Because of the chili paste, I wear gloves.  Mix well until you have an even dough. It won’t be sticky any more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cut the tuna into small cubes.

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In a small bowl, mix the mayo with the wasabi and togarashi. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the tuna and mix.

To plate up, take about 1 ½ tablespoons of the potato dough and form it into a small ball with your hands.  Repeat for all of the dough. Plate them and lightly press with your thumb on the middle of each ball to create a base for the tuna.  Place a few pieces of avocado and then add a bit of the spicy tuna.  Finally top with some black sesame seeds and sliced spring onion.

If you want to save time, you can also plate it the more homey way.  Just place a layer of the dough on a baking dish, then add one layer of the filling and then cover with a layer of the potato dough.  Keep it in the fridge covered with plastic wrap until ready to eat.

 

 

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