In the world of grilled meats on skewers, anticuchos are Peru’s irresistible street-food version of anti-style cuts of meat. Traditionally, the meat is marinated in vinegar and seasoned with a mix of cumin, ají pepper, and garlic, then cooked over a flame. Usually, the cuts of meat used are non-offal, or cheaper cuts, as well as beef heart. This recipe, however, calls for more traditional cuts of meat for us less-adventurous folks who still want a taste of Peruvian culture.
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Peruvian historians believe the word anticuchos comes from the Quechua word antikuchu. Dating back to Inca Empire, anticuchos originated in the Antisuyo region of what is now modern-day Peru. When the Spanish conquistadors invaded the region, they brought garlic and introduced the practice of putting meat on skewers.
Today, anticuchos variations are incredibly popular throughout Peru and South American countries as a street food staple. An Anticuchera is a woman who cooks and sells anticuchos on the street. People usually gather, drawn in by the incredible smell and clouds of smoke wafting from the large grills. You know a food is popular when they have their own day dedicated to celebrating them; October 17 in Peru.
Traditionally, the anticuchos are marinated in ají panca, a Peruvian red pepper paste with a smokey flavor and mild heat, along with various spices. If you don’t feel like making your own, you can order the pre-made paste online. They can be served as a side dish along with other dishes such as choripanes, boiled potatoes, corn, sausages, salad, and other ají sauces.
Looking for the perfect cocktail to accompany this Peruvian meal? Try this smooth and slightly tart Peruvian Pisco Sour Cocktail Recipe.
Ají Dipping Sauces
Ají sauce is a spicy Peruvian green or yellow sauce that complements anticuchos perfectly. Ají panca and ají amarillo paste can usually be found in any Latin market.
Ají Verde: A spicy and tangy Peruvian green sauce that includes ají amarillo paste. Here is an example of an authentic ají verde recipe.
Ají amarillo: Peruvian yellow sauce is creamy, tangy, and spicy.
A Bolivian version of anticuchos uses a peanut sauce, similar to spicy Thai peanut sauces. If you go this route, I would certainly suggest spicing up the marinade to give the anticuchos that necessary kick.
Peruvian Anticuchos Side Dishes
Choripanes – chorizo sandwiches.
Potatoes – Purple and red potatoes, sliced and grilled or boiled.
Sausages – Alpaca meat sausages or other sweeter-tasting meats.
Salad – Use corn, fresh Quesillo (Oaxaca) cheese, and tomatoes.
Corn – Boiled.
Peruvian Anticuchos Recipe
- 1 pound beef
- 1 pound chicken
- 4 pounds Seasonal vegetables Red onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, yellow or red potatoes, squash, or zucchinis.
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger Finely grated
- 4 cloves Garlic Finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- Cut meat into cubes of 3/4″ x 3/4″.
- Parboil potatoes.
- Soak mushrooms for several minutes so they retain moisture on the grill.
- Slice vegetables into 1/4" to 1/2" thick pieces. Less dense vegetables like onions and bell peppers can be on the thicker side, as they cook faster.
- For the marinade: In a bowl mix soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger, cumin, and chili sauce. Stir well with a fork.
- Marinate meat for 3 hours, covered and refrigerated.
- For the vegetables, use a brush to coat them with the marinade before skewering.
- Heat grill to high.
- Place meat and vegetables on the skewers leaving 1/4" between each piece, allowing heat to circulate and cook the meat and vegetables through.
- For best results in cooking, place each type of vegetable or meat on its own skewer, as cooking times vary.
- Rotate skewers every 2 minutes until the meat and vegetables are cooked to the amount desired, up to about 10 minutes. Brush with remaining marinade as you rotate during cooking.
- Serve hot.
From recipes using locally sourced ingredients and terroir-centric cooking, craft cocktails, to the latest in tech and home DIY projects, Michael yearns to share his learned and found knowledge of the world.