Virgilio Martinez is the chef at Central in Lima, Peru’s capital and a cultural melting pot. After 10 years of traveling, working in Spanish, Asian and South American restaurants, Virgilio returned to Peru ready to immerse himself in his culture. Central is the result, and its menu features a multitude of tubers and grains from the Andes, fish and seaweed from the Pacific Ocean, the bounty of the rivers and the jungles and native vegetables, herbs and exotic fruits, reflecting the country’s incredible biodiversity, much of which is still undiscovered. Virgilio will be the protagonist of the Theater of Taste Virgilio Martinez’s Peru and of the dinner Virgilio’s tour of Peru. Here we present one of his recipes.
500 grams scallops
50 grams white onion, chopped
2 grams garlic, chopped
1 gram fresh ginger root, chopped
40 grams celery, chopped
400 ml water
30 ml Amazonian fruit purée
Juice of 1.5 kilograms Key limes
10 grams fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 Limo chili pepper, cleaned, seeded and minced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
500 ml water
200 gr raw cane sugar
1 whole star anise
1 whole cinnamon stick
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 gr cushuro for garnish
Cilantro sprouts for garnish
Sea salt for garnish
To prepare the “Leche de Tigre” (Tiger’s Milk – the sauce)
Briefly process the white onion, garlic, ginger root, celery and water in a blender. Strain through a fine colander and add the cilantro and limo chili pepper to the liquid. Allow to rest a few seconds, and then add the key
lime juice and passion fruit purée. Using a very sharp knife slice the scallops into disks about 4 mm thick.
Mix the slices of scallops with the Leche de Tigre and add a few ice cubes.
Place the water in a medium stock pot along with the raw cane sugar, star anise and cinnamon
stick. Bring to a boil and add the sweet potato cubes and simmer until just soft. Drain and set
aside. Continue boiling the liquid until reduced to a light syrup. Purée half of the cooked sweet potato cubes. This will serve as a decorative base on the dinner plate. Fry half of the sweet potato cubes in the olive oil, drain and toss in the light syrup prepared from the sweet potato cooking liquid.
Arrange the scallop disks in a line on a large dinner plate, using a small amount of the Leche de
Tigre as a base. Sprinkle the scallops with sea salt and garnish with cilantro sprouts. Leche de
tigre on top. Make a decorative swathe across the plate using the sweet potato purée. Arrange sweet potato
cubes on top of the purée.