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Ceviche, Peru’s national dish

Eating out is a feast in Lima. Foodies have acclaimed Lima as the gourmet capital of South America. The ingredients for some of Peru’s exciting dishes come from all around the country: the mountains, the Amazon rainforest and of course the coast. The fresh fish and sea life of the Pacific Ocean offers Lima’s chefs beautiful ingredients to transform into delicious dishes, such as ceviche.

It is not surprising that fish plays a leading role in many Peruvian dishes; the alternating warm and cold currents off the coast stimulate an abundant sea life. The national dish is ceviche (or 'cebiche'), a dish with fresh raw fish that is ‘cooked’ in lemon juice and available on every street corner. Each region has its own way of preparing the dish, but Lima offers the greatest variety served either in authentic cevicherias or in exclusive restaurants.

Ceviche is one of Peru’s classic fish dishes
Ceviche is one of Peru’s classic fish dishes

Lima

Fresh raw fish

The local inhabitants of Peru already made a precursor to the ceviche, long before the 16th-century arrival of the Spaniards. They marinated the fresh raw fish in tumbo, a type of passion fruit, which they later traded in for the lemons introduced by the Spaniards. Interestingly enough, the delicious tender ceviche we eat today has been strongly influenced by Japanese chefs. In the 1970s they experimented with curing raw fish by pickling it for a few minutes. Peruvians call this spicy marinade of chilli peppers, salt and red onions ‘leche de tigre’, or tiger milk.

A colourful collection of flags adorns Canta Rana

Laughing frog

Canta Rana, ‘laughing frog’, is a classic cevicheria in the Barranco neighbourhood. The ceiling is decorated with a colourful collection of flags and football shirts, and there is the constant hum of chatting families sitting around the wooden tables. It is busy for a good reason: the word is that this restaurant serves the best ceviche in Lima. Deliciously spicy and extremely tender. The menu offers at least 17 varieties that taste even better with a sip of 'chicha morada', the sweet purple corn soda.

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Canta Rana, Genova 101, Barranco, Lima

The charming ambiance of Barranco

Stylish patio

A few hundred metres down you will find Amor Amar. The impressive door hides a culinary treasure that could easily be overlooked by an inattentive passer-by: a contemporary restaurant where you can enjoy ceviche and other classic Peruvian dishes with a modern twist. Famous chefs Albert Luis Schilotto and Victor Away Chang-Say surprise their guests with exclusive fish dishes. There is no need to hurry as the restaurant’s stylish patio is a wonderful place to spend a few hours eating al fresco.

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“Chefs at Amor Amar serve their guests beautiful culinary creations”

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Amor Amar, Garcia y Garcia 175, Lima L04

Photo credits

  • A colourful collection of flags adorns Canta Rana: simeonon, Flickr
  • The charming ambiance of Barranco: Emmanuel DYAN, Flickr