I get it: you thought I was going to do ceviche. And yes, that is Peru's most famous dish, and it's a glorious gift to the gastronomic world. But today we're going to talk about a close relation of ceviche, and a dish that might just be even better: tiradito. Tiradito is raw fish – not cured in citrus juice, as it is in ceviche – that is cut thin and long like sashimi (rather than cubed like ceviche), and covered in a rich sauce that often contains aji amarillo, a Peruvian yellow pepper, sometimes rocoto, a red pepper, plus garlic, ginger and lime juice. This is one of Peru's finest examples of "Nikkei" cuisine, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese flavours and techniques that works spectacularly.
As with so many of the world's great dishes featured in this column, tiradito is a product of migration, and local ingenuity. The first waves of Japanese migrants began arriving in Peru in 1899, and the country still has a significant population of Japanese descent. It's these people who are credited with the development of tiradito in the 20th century, combining sashimi with a sauce of intensely local Peruvian ingredients. The name tiradito is thought to come from the Spanish word estirar – "to stretch" – given the fish is cut longer than traditional ceviche.
Lima's undisputed king of Nikkei cuisine is Maido (maido.pe), run by Peruvian-Japanese master chef Mitsuharu Tsumura. The Maido menu almost always features tiradito.
In Sydney, your destination is an obvious one: Nikkei Bar and Restaurant (nikkeibar.com.au), which does a tostada with all the flavours of tiradito. In Melbourne, try the excellent Peruvian eatery Pastuso (pastuso.com.au), which offers several different tiraditos.
ONE MORE THING
For a slight variation on tiradito, keep an eye out in Peru for "tiradito a la brasa", in which the fish is seared before being sliced and drowned in sauce, adding an extra charred, smoky element to the dish.