Building on Tradition: Modern Peruvian Cuisine

By Korakot Suriya-arporn

By

Korakot Suriya-arporn
Virgilio Martínez presenting and plating on the Main Stage at ICC 2015
Virgilio Martínez presenting and plating on the Main Stage at ICC 2015

Chefs, you never forget about tradition. The flavors you grew up with build your entire perception of taste. For some great chefs, aka Virgilio Martínez, it’s a springboard to develop personal cuisine that speaks true to centuries-old recipes, but also catches up to contemporary gastronomy. On the ICC Main Stage, his interpretation of sudado—a traditional sea bass stew simmered with aji amarillo, vinegar-pickled onion, tomato, and fumet—branched out into two stunning creations that make Peruvian abuela proud, if wide-eyed.

At his restaurant, Central, in Peru and on the 2015 ICC Main Stage, Martínez creates dishes in direct correlation to the altitudesof Peru. For one dish, he plated choclo (that big kerneled corn that doesnt't get stuck in your teeth) cake with sudado purée, red corn chips, and fried corn silk. For another “sudado,” he infused a broth with dehydrated aji, tomatoes, onion, and garlic, and pours it on top of airampo-painted fish (airampo is the seed indigenous to Peru that gives off a shocking pink color) and pacay-cured langoustine (pacay is a long pod with sweet white flesh similar to cherimoya).

Martínez has laid out a template on how to build modern cuisine from strong roots in tradition, and American chefs could emulate his work in the realm of dishes like clam chowder, jambalaya, and even the cheeseburger.

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