Miles, Olivia & I just returned from a quick but fantastic trip to the wonderful city of San Francisco to visit my sister. She showed us a spectacular time, we tried to fit in as much as possible in four days. Though there were many highlights of the trip,Â my ultimate favorite was a wonderful Peruvian restaurant on the beach near Half Moon Bay called “La Costanera” What aÂ special place this was! It is Michelin recommended and one can see why with the incredible view and exciting menu. WeÂ were entertained watching the brave surfers tackling giant waves.Â After dinner the kids ran down to the beach while KarlaÂ and I enjoyedÂ the last of our wine on the porchÂ with giant fireplaces to keep us warm. If you are in the area, you need to check this place out.
Since we have returned I cannot get a dish out of my head, while all of our food was fantastic, this particular dish was one of the most unique, yet simple dishes I have ever tasted. The presentation was also unique & simple. “Steamed Peruvian Corn on the Cob topped with Huacatay Sauce & Queso Fresco.” The corn wasÂ really interesting…the kernals were giant, theÂ flavorÂ was aÂ bit bland, sort of like Hominy, however the sauce paired with it is what makes my mouth water just thinking of it, this sauce has also put me on a new mission to discover more about Peruvian Cuisine.
The sauce is called Huacatay sauce. Huacatay is a native Peruvian herb related to marigold & tarragon. It’s aroma is said to be in between mint & basil. Huacatay is going to be next to impossible to find in The Red River Valley, however you can special order it (along with Peruvian Peppers..that you need to make this authentic) from this website: www.spiceworlds.com/pricelist.html
The authentic recipe is something like this:
1.1 pound queso fresco
3/4 cup cream or evaporated milk
2 bunches Huacatay leaves
chiles to taste
ground natural peanuts
salt & pepper taste.
Place your chopped chiles, peanuts & leaves in a saute pan and lightly toast. Transfer to a blender with the evaporated milk and blend, slowly add your cheese to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Simple! Now to find Huacatay & Peruvian Peppers….
I played around with this and guessing from the flavors described by folks native to Peru or who are lucky enough to have a market that supplies Huacatay, I created a “Red River Valley” version and added a few extraÂ ingredients to make it really special.
1 head of Romaine Lettuce, chopped
2 bunches of fresh cilantro chopped
1/8 cup mint chopped
5 fresh jalapeno chiles chopped
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 can evaporated millkÂ
1 tbsp lime juice
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Heat oil in a saute pan and saute your onion, garlic & chiles lightly. Transfer to a blender. Add the romaine, cilantro, mint, evaporated milk and puree. Add lime juice and salt & pepper to taste. (use less jalapenos to make it less spicy)
This sauce is delicious served with local sweet corn. Drizzle over the corn and add some crushed peanuts and crumbled queso fresco. YUM!
You can also use this sauce drizzled over a nice steak, as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables and more.
As I await the arrival of my “REAL” Peruvian Huacatay & Peruvian Peppers…this sauce will do just fine.