27 Jul Global Trending – Amazon Cuisine.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Peruvian born, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is now a top chef in Lima, Peru and has 2 of the hottest restaurants: Malabar and AmaZ. In addition, he hosts a weekly TV show “Desde el Jardin” in Lima which focuses on local ingredients and works directly with producers. Lucky me, I had the pleasure of interviewing this talented chef.
JB: Your newest restaurant, AmaZ, utilizes all local ingredients from the Amazon rainforest. What was your motivation for opening this type of restaurant and what are some of the ingredients used in Amazon cooking?
PM: The motivation was to communicate and conceptualize a cuisine that had so much identity and power. We had a need.
Amazonian cuisine owns the richest forest in the world; the amount of ingredients to use are huge. I can give you some facts. For example, with fish, there are over 3000 species and 40 % are catfish. Catfish is the most popular fish and the tiger catfish is the most popular one. Some catfish can grow and weight up to 400 pounds. Catfish is not the biggest fish in the amazon, however. The paiche or arapaima gigas, is the biggest and also the second largest fresh water fish in the world. It can grow 4m long and weigh 800 pounds. Paiche represents the future for fish farming in the world.
JB: Do you have locavore wine pairing with your dishes and, if so, what type of wine would you serve? Do you have a favorite wine?
PM: The bar is very important in our concept and the experience is driven towards spirits and fruit cocktails. We have wines too and we offer new and different wines to our customers all the time. We have suggestions every week, “The wines of the week” and try different origins and grapes.
We feel that sparkling, whites and rosés work well with AmaZ foods. We look for whites with acidity and freshness that follows the freshness of our cold dishes that are full, sour, spicy, fruity and always with fresh herbs. The salinity of rosés goes very well with all dishes that are made with plantains. For me, a good French rosé is a good wine to drink from the beginning to the end of the meal.
JB: Today’s travelers are more concerned with environment. Besides using local ingredients, what other methods are implemented at AmaZ to decrease the carbon footprint?
PM: We don’t measure our food print, but Amazonian cuisine does have a natural responsibility with the Amazon culture and territory.
We know where almost every single ingredient comes from, we know the producers, fisherman, purveyors, farmers, etc. We have been doing this for the last 12 years.
AmaZ works with 7 indigenous communities and we source directly from them. Most of them have never sold a single product to a restaurant before. We give value to native communities and sustain their culture.
We don’t work with ingredients that are endangered or from dubious origin.
AmaZ promotes sustainable practices like gathering, artisanal fishing, reforestation, sustainable fish farming, etc.
It’s not only the produce that we use, but we also we learn from them, from the way they live in balance with nature.
Instead of compensating for the damage that we, do we try not to do damage in the first place.
JB: Where do you like to travel when you go on vacation?
PM: We are a big family, 5 girls and myself, so when we go on vacation we try to go somewhere that all of us enjoy. Usually any trip that incorporates nature is what we prefer.
JB: Other than in Peru, do you have any favorite restaurants?
PM: I like Brazilian cuisine– Mocoto and Tordesilhas are my favorite in Sao Paulo. Also Gustu in La Paz, Bolivia.
JB: What’s in store for the future of AmaZ? Do you see other restaurants following your lead?
PM: The second Amaz in Lima is coming soon- maybe at the end of next year. Our dream is to have an Amaz in every capital city in most of the countries that share the amazon basin. We think that this is possible if we share the importance of this cuisine.
We will love to see more restaurants like Amaz; actually, we need that more cooks and customers get involved in Amazonian cuisine since that’s the only way to make it sustainable
JB: Can you share one of your authentic Amazon recipes with our readers?
PM: This recipe is easy to cook and reflects how this cuisine belongs to Central and South America, its pan Amazonian.
(See recipe below)
JB: Since AmaZ is an Amazon rainforest restaurant, do people need an umbrella when they eat??
PM: Hahahaha, the rain is the only thing you will miss from the amazon when you dine in AmaZ Lima!!!
Avenue la Paz 1079
Miraflores, Peru 15074
Refried plantains and wild tomato salsa
For 10 portions
2 Ripe plantains, peeled and cut in 2 inch pieces
Oil for deep frying
For the wild tomato and smoked pork salsa
Cecina (Smoked pork), diced 120 gr 4 1/4 oz
Cucumber, diced 120 gr 4 1/4 oz
Ripe tomatoes(pealed,seeded &chopped) 60 gr 2 1/8 oz
Cocona (wild Amazonian tomato), diced* 200 gr 7 oz
Sweet chili peppers, diced 50 gr 1 3/4 oz
Red onions, diced and rinsed 200 gr 4 1/4 oz
Wild cilantro or cilantro, chopped 20 gr 1/2 oz
Lime juice, fresh 100 gr 3 1/2 oz
Hot chili pepper t.t.
Salt and pepper t.t.
(*substitute more tomato for cocona)
1) Deep fry plantains in 180 C (350⁰ F) until soft. Dry over paper towel and cool down slightly. Place them between a metal lime squeezer and press to give a basket shape. Let cool.
2) Slightly cook the smoke pork until golden brown. Cool down
3) Mix all vegetables of the salsa, add salt and pepper. Add lime juice and herbs and mix well.
4) Refried the plantains in 190 C (375⁰ F) oil until dark brown. Dry over paper towel and add salt. Cool slightly
5) For service place the salsa in the plantains basket and top with diced smoked pork