Monday, March 14, 2011

Daring Cooks Challenge:¡Me Encanta Peru! Ceviche and Papas Rellenas

After a great challenge last month (tempura and soba noodle salad), I was excited for another Daring Cooks adventure.

This month our challenge took us south, to Peru! Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra. For a full recap of the challenge, visit the Daring Cooks challenge description.

I was thrilled about the papas rellenas! Fried mashed potatoes are a little excessive, but so delicious. For our wedding we served what was essentially fried mashed potato patties (they had a much fancier name, of course). Needless to say, we really enjoyed the results of this challenge.

Tackling this challenge for one meal required a lot of organization. It was important to map out all the steps and organize the ingredients before starting. I tackled the potato preparation first. There were two papas rellenas recipes provided - one with meat and one vegan. I created my own combination using ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry. I paired a tofu and vegetable filling with the 'dough' from the meat papas.

While the potatoes boiled, I prepared the filling. First step, cutting up a block of extra firm tofu. I placed it under a towel and a weighted plate to remove excess moisture. Using a mixture of leftover vegetables, I sauteed onions, mushrooms, garlic, a diced hot pepper, and some spinach. I can't remember what spices I used, probably some paprika, salt and pepper. After the tofu dried out, I crumbled it and added it to the pan. I didn't take any notes as I went along, I was just giving everything an eyeball measure. I ended up with a lot of extra filling to add to lunches for the rest of the week.

Next step, assembling and frying! I made six giant papas rellenas, but found that the first one fell apart when I tried to flip it over in the frying oil. I cut the remaining five in half and reshaped them into smaller balls. This made them much easier to fry and a more manageable serving size. They were crispy, delicious, and very filling. I'll refer you to the Daring Cooks recipes, since I didn't follow them very closely.

Before I started frying, I prepared all of the components needed for the ceviche. Once I started frying I put it all together and into the refrigerator to 'cook' for about 15 minutes. I cut the ceviche recipe in half knowing that we were having papas rellenas on the side.  I used a Wild Alaskan Halibut steak and plenty of fresh lime juice and cilantro.

I used a red fresno pepper to add a little kick to the dish. One thing I learned the hard way is that hot pepper oil on your fingers does not mix well with contact lenses. No matter how much you wash your hands, you will still scream when you take your contacts out at the end of the night. Thankfully, I found a solution to the problem - a finger guard! It seems silly, but it is completely worth it. It keeps your fingers off of the pepper and lets you slice and dice without any painful side effects.

I let our fish cook for about 10 minutes, until just opaque. Here's the fish in the 'cooking' liquid:

When the potatoes were all fried and the fish was ready, we sat down to a delicious dinner! Thanks Daring Cooks for the opportunity to try out another new cuisine and technique!

Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche):
Adapted from recipe by Annik Franco Barreau
1 lb. Wild Alaskan Halibut steak
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 red fresno chili pepper, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup  freshly squeezed lime juice (enough to cover fish)
1 tablespoon  fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Rinse fish and pat dry
Cut into 1 inch cubes (anywhere from 1/2 inch - 2 inches, depending on your preference)
Place fish in a thin layer in a non-reactive dish
Combine lime juice, chili pepper, garlic and cilantro in a dish
Pour marinade over the fish and lay sliced onion on top
After 10 minutes (approximately) fish will be 'cooked'
Remove from the liquid and serve


  1. I am always so impressed at these cooking challenges! Great work!

  2. Ooh, this looks so good! I absolutely adore ceviche, but it's so hard to find it without shellfish. And anything involving fried potatoes is a must for me. Thanks for the terrific recipes. Yum

  3. Not sure what to think about the tofu stuffing. The papas do look good though.

  4. Papa Rellenos are one of my very favorite foods of all time. Very, very favorite! Did the recipe call for tofu, or did you make that substitution for the ground meat?

  5. The papas rellenas look awesome! I love the idea of tofu with potatoes...

  6. Thanks for the comments! Fried potatoes are fantastic! I had no meat in the house, and didn't want to make a special trip to the store. So I improvised and used what I had on hand. The dried, crumbled tofu is a similar texture to ground meat.

  7. Your food looks fantastic! I need to get a finger guard. I use disposable gloves when I handle those chilies :)

  8. Wow, congratulations! Those dishes look perfect. I'm not much of a ceviche fan, but you're making me rethink that stance. I appreciate the tip on making the rellenos smaller too.

  9. I love ceviche, and though I've never had papas rellanas....but that won't be lasting long!! can't go wrong with stuffed potato croquettes!

  10. Maybe some day I'll try to make ceviche. Hubby and I were too nervous to make it, but the papas rellenas were a hit!

  11. WOW both recipes looks so delicious (I love deep fried mash potato fritters and raw fish) glad to hear you like them both and yes 10mins to about right for the ceviche I feel. The texture of fish looks so creamy well done.

    I like the the idea of tofu in the papas very inspiring.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  12. Wow! Amazing! And happy belated bday!

  13. I have GOT to try that ceviche recipe. I absolutely love it at restaurants but have never had the courage to make it myself. Yum!

  14. I have GOT to try that ceviche recipe. I absolutely love it at restaurants but have never had the courage to make it myself. Yum!

  15. Not sure what to think about the tofu stuffing. The papas do look good though.


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