White apron, wide smile and warm greetings, Hendrik offers us a beer and immediately guides us to the kitchen. Across the counter, colorful & round chili, cilantro and limes pose together in a joyous multitude.
“I cook because I love what it does to your sense, how it makes you feel and evoke so many emotions for a person. I love cooking for others and see their reactions when tasting something new or particularly flavorful! To me, Food is everything. “
We sip a cold beer and listen to his recollection of Dutch infused Peruvian upbringing,. Eager child, sitting in the kitchen, helping his parents and taking notes of recipes which he kept until today, handwritten on flying bits of paper and patiently collected in a tin box! His gesture becomes more animated. His composure, initially calm, intensifies as he tells the story of learning how to cook, when he and his brother left Peru for the Netherlands at age 14 & 16.
“Being on our own, that’s when my passion for cooking kicked in, and the years of paying attention and taking notes paid off. I still remember the laughter filled evenings, preparing food for all our friends coming over!”
“Peruvian kitchen is “IN” lately!” , he explains. “It is the best emerging kitchen in the world with a lot of restaurants opening London, New York, Miami… Peru is a mix of many cultures – with Japanese, Chinese, African-Americans, native Indians and Spanish creating an abundant & flavorful melting pot. The soil is rich and the climate allows for growing diversified produces! Peruvian cuisine is very varied and fish & seafood dishes are very typical of the Coast.” As I take a first bit of the tantalizing salmon ceviche, I can only agree. The fragrant cilantro and tangy lime juice compliment perfectly the fresh tenderness of the gently marinated salmon; the explosion of flavor is so intense, I can barely comment on how delicious the whole thing is!
Authentic Peruvian Salmon Ceviche – starter for 4 people
It took many years, to accept making it with salmon- as White fish which is more traditional – e.g. Kuha works really well! In Peru people eat around 2-3 o-clock – especially ceviche as it should be the fresh catch if the day , so the “cevicherìas” are traditional open in afternoon.
- 400 g salmon
- 2 cups of Lime juice – about 12 limes
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic of a small 1 whole garlic
- 1 small red chili sliced in rings
- Fresh grated Ginger
- Salt & pepper,
- Optional: 200 g puréed aji amarillo (yellow hot Peruvian chili pepper)
- For Garnish: Cilantro and 1 Red onion
- Cube the Salmon into 1.5 cm pieces, leave aside
- Put the rest of the ingredients in the blender until liquid – then strain the juice through a sieve.
- Pour onto the fish, and slice some red onions & Coriander
- Leave to rest for 20 to 25 minutes to cook in the lime juice, taste for salt & pepper & serve immediately!
Hendrik’s tip: As a sider you can fry a few sweet potatoes with some sea salt, it cuts through the sourness of the lime!
The cooking is effortless. He is already up and preparing the next dish: “Papa a la Huancaína”, pouring generous spoonfuls of “Huancaína”- a creamy blend of yellow aji amarillo chili, cottage cheese and cream crackers- He sprinkles chopped parsley over perfectly boiled Finnish potatoes and the gentle heat of the chili confirms to me that Peruvian kitchen is a territory definitely worth exploring further in Finland. We sit at the table and devise dreams of food-truck and restaurants grand openings and I can’t wait to see what’s next on this tireless cook’s menu!