While in Lima, E, Becky (mother-in-law), and myself attended a cooking class hosted by  Sky Kitchen. E loves to bake (her current career goal is pastry chef) and Becky and I love being in the kitchen. The three of us attended a wonderful pastry class while in Paris, so we thought another cooking class would be fun.

We picked the option that included market tour, fruit tasting, and then the cooking! We met our guide and instructor, Diego, at Mercado Surguillo for our market tour. He pointed out the origin of food items (local or sourced from another region of Peru) and various cooking uses. We walked around fruit, vegetable, meat, and seafood vendors. We spent just under an hour in the market and then proceeded to the cooking school.

Sky Kitchen was a short taxi trip from the market. It was located on the upper apartment of an apartment building. The kitchen was mostly outdoors (hence…Sky Kitchen) with great views of Lima. The area was spacious for the dozen attendees, working space, a large outdoor table, and the support kitchen. Each person was given an apron for the morning and a spot at the communal prep table.

The cooking class started with a fruit tasting. We must have tasted nearly 4 dozen different types of fruit (many we had seen in the market). After tasting, I felt confident to pick out fruit at the local markets that everyone would like! The tasting included 7 types of bananas, several different citric fruits, passion fruits, and different tomatoes.

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The menu for the cooking class was full of Peruvian classics- causa, ceviche, lomo saltado, and picarones. The recipes were sent to us via e-mail (in English) after class.

Causa is a Lima summer specialty of mashed yellow potatoes layered with vegetables and meat (or fish). It has dozens of variations for the potatoes and meat used. Did you know there are over 4,000 potatoes in Peru! Our dish used chicken and avocado in addition to the potato layer. The chicken was a simple boiled chicken mixed with a small amount of mayonnaise. I was introduced to a staple of the Peruvian pantry- yellow chili paste for this recipe. I will be adding that to our pantry when we return! The layers were constructed similar to a lasagna- potato, avocado, chicken, potato, and avocado. Then a finishing touch of pepper sauce was added. I would not have tried this in a restaurant without being introduced to it at Sky Kitchen. I will be trying this dish once we return home (maybe with Yukon gold potatoes). Disclaimer- I will be making all the dishes upon return to the states!

Ceviche is considered the national dish of Peru. After tasting Peruvian ceviche, I don’t think I could ever eat the Americanized version again. I was surprised by how few ingredients were needed for this delicious dish- white fish, lime juice, chili peppers, onions, and salt. The key to good ceviche is fresh fish. Diego shared all of his tips for buying fresh fish in the market. It takes only a few minutes of contact with limes for the fish to turn the characteristic white color. Each of us was able to add chili peppers according to our taste buds. The evaporated milk was an unexpected ingredient and is crucial for making “Tiger’s milk” variety of ceviche. The traditional garnishes were corn and boiled sweet potatoes.

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The most important ingredient!
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My finished product….only 2 chili peppers rings and they were spicy!

Lomo Saltado is Peruvian stir-fried sirloin that has many Asian influences. We saw it on nearly ever restaurant menu. The main ingredients are red onions, tomatoes, yellow peppers, garlic, beef accompanied with a sauce of white wine vinegar, soy sauce, red wine and garnished with parsley and cilantro. The meat and vegetables are stir fried and then served with rice and French fries (the Peruvians like their carbs).

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Cooking station for lomo saltado
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E working the wok!
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Finished product!

Street vendors all over Lima sell the dessert, picarones. Unlike a traditional donut, the dough was made from squash and a sweet potato variety. This dessert likely originated from the slaves used during the Spanish Colonial period. A syrup of molasses infused with orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, and figs accompanied the picarones. The key to making the picarones rings was wetting your fingers with water and the “4 finger” technique. Although our versions didn’t resemble Diego’s final product, they were quite yummy.

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Frying the rings

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The three of us had an enjoyable morning/early afternoon at Sky Kitchen! I am glad we included the market option. I am looking forward to cooking classes in other locations. I am slowly adding spices/cooking staples to my list to supplement the “american pantry”.