Many people are unaware of the Japanese culinary influence in South American countries. With the exception of a growing group of foodie aficionados, many are also not aware of the influence Japanese foods have had on the Peruvian food culture.
Japanese influenced food from Peru is named Nikkei. It is the Japanese word for emigrants and their descendants. This growing and popular cuisine has now spread from Peru to many other Latin American countries and many countries around the world.
Nikkei cuisine is the convergence of Japanese recipes and standard Peruvian foods such as yellow pepper, Andes potatoes and corn. Immigrants from Japan introduced their own traditional foodstuffs such as rice vinegar, soy, wasabi, miso and ginger.
Nikkei became increasingly popular in Peru when it was chosen as a destination by the Emperor of Japan during the Mejii period (1886-1912). Peru was the first country in Latin America to enter into diplomatic relations with Japan.
Tiradito is a popular dish blending Japanese cuisine with that of Peru. Tiradito is simple and easy to make and is made with fresh ingredients, served cold. As one of the Nikkei dishes, it is known for being healthy and rich in flavor. It is made with sashimi-grade fish, is low-carb and low-fat.
Tiradito originated when a diner requested Ceviche without onions. The final step is the dish being made is just prior to being served to keep the flavor of the fish fresh. These innovations could be said to have refined the dish into the popular form that is generally served today.
The origins of the name Tiradito are unclear. A number of Peruvian chefs of Japanese origins agree however, the name Tiradito is the shortened form of the Spanish word ‘"estiradito" that means "stretched out."
Yaki soba saltado or “Japanese-style lo mein" is another dish composed of Peruvian and Japanese ingredients. It features marinated portions of stir-fried meat, usually chicken or shrimp as well as onions and cabbage tossed with noodles and mixed with soy sauce.
In the 1970s, Nobu Matsuhisa, a 24 year old classically trained Japanese sushi chef moved to Lima to open his own sushi restaurant. As his dishes were limited by the variety of ingredients available, he improvised using a personally chosen variety of Peruvian ingredients.
These dishes have now become known as Nobu style and Matsuhisa's restaurants have now become a global empire. Meanwhile, the traditional Ceviche has spread around the world, having adapted to many countries and cultures where you may have travelled to.
In recognition of these unique Japanese Peruvian foods, the World Travel Awards presented Peru with the ultimate gourmet travel award; the BEST culinary destination in 2019.
If a South American vacation is in your future and you have an adventurous taste for food, make sure to include Peru in your itinerary.