Melbourne-based chef Alejandro Saravia says he was inspired by Frank Camorra’s approach of introducing authentic Spanish cuisine to Australia, and felt confident to introduce true Peruvian cuisine – firstly with a series of pop-ups, then within Morena restaurant Sydney – and finally settling in Pastuso in ACDC Lane, Melbourne, opening in 2014.
‘Peruvian cuisine is very feminine – heather, with lighter approaches. Often milder chilis are used for flavour rather than heat; and lots of herbs are used to add aromatics and to aid digestion’, he explains. ‘Peruvian cuisine includes wonderful ceviche, lots of seasonal vegetables (this is traditional) and also light, slow-cooked meats – alpaca is a staple – it is very lean like like venison.’
Uma is a new collaboration with Pan Pacific hotel, Perth. Alejandro says he sees this partnership as the ‘icing on the cake’ for his role in introducing Peruvian cuisine to Australia. ‘Uma has given me the opportunity to refine my offering, expanding on what is traditionally Peruvian, yet using Western Australia’s wonderful local ingredients including its seafoods and premium grass-fed meats.’
As-well-as sourcing these very local ingredients, Alejandro says he imports Pisco spirit and the four most important chilis required for traditional Peruvian cooking: Ají Amarillo, Ají Panca, Ají Mirasol and Rocoto Peppers. Alejandro who worked under Heston Blumenthal at his UK restaurant The Fat Duck in his early days, proudly explains the origins of the Peruvian phrase ‘God must be Peruvian’. ‘We have it all: copper, gold, natural gas, oil, coal, 500 varieties of potato, salt and all the ancient grains: quinoa, chia, amaranth and maca root. The Australians call these super foods – for Peruvians, it’s what we’ve always known!’
Trio of Ceviche, pictured from left: Tiradito Nikkei – Fremantle Albacore, jalapeños, soy and ají mirasol dressing (a Japanese influenced ceviche); Ceviche UMA – Abrolhos Islands (Indian Ocean) red throat emperor, broad bean leaves, aji mirasol and charred orange kombucha (‘inspired by the geography and colours of the Western Australian dessert’, explains Alejandro); Tiradito de Camarones – Abrolhos Islands prawns, desert limes, white tigers milk and coriander oil (‘my interpretation of how ceviches are a very flexible dish that evolves with new modern approach and local ingredients).
Ceviche Experience $59 per person, designed for the whole table to share, always on, seasonal variations
207 Adelaide Terrace, Perth, WA