Flambé flames shot high in the air and pulses quickened. Quietly, Chef Arthur mentioned again how we would now be able to do this pisco-born flame shooting in our own kitchens--- don’t tell our home insurance agent please!
The flame thrill was almost enough to make the last vestiges of our intoxicating welcome drink, a passion fruit chilcano, wear off---almost.
Like the ceviche before it, timing was key in our preparation of lomo saltado.
These are two classic dishes, ubiquitous throughout Peru. This was less a cooking lesson that steeps you in fine points of Peruvian culture, as many international cooking classes do. Rather, it was a chance to make really good food under Chef Arthur’s low key avuncular eye, and to take home gourmet chef tips and tricks that will work with any cuisine where cutting, timing. blending and keeping your eye on proportions is key, i.e. most good food.
Peruvian Flavors Class Gives Cooking Tips
For example, we learned that THE way to get that very fine cut we wanted in chili, onion, etc. starts with turning your body perpendicular from the cutting board and then pivoting your torso for prime leverage. We learned the two ways to cut garlic, with the smash being this writer’s clear time-saving favorite. How to scrape seeds from hot peppers with your spoon, cutting onions and tomatoes in the angle of its seams and not against it, and what a dash—as in dash of salt—looks like on the tip of your super sharp cutting knife, how to clean cilantro (1 tsp bleach to 1 liter of water), how to make infused oils that will last for three weeks in your refrigerator, how to make sure your key lime isn’t over-squeezed making your food bitter, and so forth.
These and so many other tips are second nature to Chef Arthur, whose interest in gourmet cooking was actually first stirred in a ski resort in Vermont. Perhaps Arthur was one of the low-paid teens that come to American on special Visas to work in the USA’s Trump-like hotels. Those details are unknown but that boredome at the ski resort got him looking to kill time in the kitchen is part the story Arthur tells. The rest is history. He is one of the top-rated chefs in world foodie capital Arequipa. Yes, when asked he can tell you lots about Peruvian cuisine and its history--- soy sauce is imported from China, Peruvians eat as much rice as potatoes now, alpaca is a healthy low-cholesterol meat that is best-matched with veal in the USA, etc.--- but he seems to be just as knowledgeable and voluble about fun things to do in Arequipa area, from rafting to grabbing breakfast in the city’s 200 year old market, etc.
This was the beginner’s training wheel class- a simpler menu. A few in our class had signed on for a Pisco Sour making lesson, which the rest of us ogled, with two of us then feeling compelled to order drinks from the restaurant to accompany their lunch. More advanced classes last three days—taking you on a tour of Peru’s jungle-inspired food, criolla classics and more.
The proof was in the pudding as they say. This really WAS the best ceviche and lomo saltado de alpaca we sampled—and we made it! We imagine the Pisco Sour was darn good too.
Click here for a picture-rich how-to guide to Chef Arthur’s recipes—
To find out more about Peruvian Flavors or to schedule a class, visit the Peruvian Flavors website.