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Parihuela, often called Peruvian Bouillabaisse, is a seafood stew of various local Pacific Ocean fish and shellfish seasoned with chilies such as ají panca, ají amarillo, and a little pisco, the Peruvian grape brandy.
Growing up in Lima, I spent a lot of time on the beach south of the city. Since I was an asthmatic child, the doctor recommended I spend as much time on the beach in the summer as possible, so my parents rented a house in Pucusana, a small fishing village about 40 miles south of Lima. They took advantage of our living on the beach and having access to fresh seafood. On Sunday mornings we’d go to the muelle (wharf) to get the freshest catch, choosing from the amazing diversity of fish and shellfish. I loved the smell of the fresh seafood and I can still smell it today. Once back at the house, my aunts and grandmother would prepare the parihuela, always served hot, even in the summer.
Eating parihuela always brings back memories of my family and relatives gathering at the table together to share food, drink, music and, of course, dancing!
My recipe for this delicious dish:
½ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 tsps garlic paste
1 tsp ají panca paste
½ tsp ají mirasol paste
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp annatto powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fresh oregano
¼ cup white wine
4½ cups fish stock
6 ounces mussels, cleaned
2½ lbs sea bass cut in small pieces (any white-flesh, firm fish will do)
6 oz fresh shrimp, peeled or unpeeled, according to your preference
6 oz king prawns
8 oz squid, cleaned and cut into rings
8 oz clams, cleaned
8 oz snails, cleaned
1 lobster (about 1 lb), cleaned
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp of pisco (optional)
A handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Wedges of 2 limes (optional)
Note: You can make parihuela with any variety of shellfish you like and the snails are optional
In a wide pot or deep pan over medium heat, add olive oil and sweat the onions until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic paste, ají panca, ají mirasol, tomatoes, bay leaf, annatto, cumin and oregano. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring to make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Add the white wine and let cook for 5 more minutes. Then add fish stock and pisco, if using, and stir. Turn down the heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes letting the flavors marry.
Add all the shellfish and fish to the pot and simmer until shellfish opens, about 7 minutes. Discard any unopened shellfish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with chopped cilantro on top and a few drops of lime juice, if desired.
Marita Lynn is a Peruvian chef, entrepreneur and blogger. Find her online at Marita's Peruvian Cooking. Her company, Catering by Maria, serves New York City and Greater New Jersey.
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