My curiosity was piqued the moment I saw this challenge go up. I love learning about foods from other cultures, and Peru is a place I know virtually nothing about. So this was going to be a learning experience. Which is always a good thing, if you ask me. Then there was the "hmmm...." moment. I knew what ceviche was. Fish, barely "cooked" in an acidic citrus marinade. Vegetarian households and fish don't generally go so well together. (And even if we weren't vegetarian, me being pregnant means that raw, or barely cooked, fish is a no-no anyway!) And I had never heard of papas rellenas, but the moment I heard they were potato based, I was in! Now, knowing that there were people with dietary restrictions, Kathlyn actually said that it would be fine to make only one of the challenge dishes - either the ceviche or the papas. But I knew that there had to be an alternative...
After looking around on the internet, I found that there are many alternatives to fish which can be used to make a vegetarian ceviche, or at least a ceviche style dish. Cooks can use tofu, hearts of palm, mozzarella cheese... I chose tofu, as it is an ingredient I really like, and I love trying new recipes with it. Based on a combination of the challenge recipe, my internet research, and the ingredients I had in the house I came up with a marinade that I thought sounded good. I used lemons and oranges for my fresh citrus juice, then added a combination of white vinegar and soy sauce to round out the amount of liquid. To this I added a variety of spices, including ground mustard, ground ginger, cumin and paprika. I meant to add some minced garlic, but I forgot about it... (I don't know how I could ever forget garlic, but it happened...!) This marinade was then poured over cubed tofu and the dish was set in the refrigerator to soak overnight.
The next day it was time to tackle the papas rellena, and to complete the tofu ceviche. Papas rellenas are, essentially (and in a very simplistic interpretation) mashed potatoes wrapped around a filling then breaded and fried. As a potato fan, I knew this would be a versitile technique for me...! I chose to make a broccoli and cheese filling for my papas, thinking that a familiar flavor combination would be a good way to approach such a new dish. (I had toyed with the idea of adding black beans, texturized vegetable protein, or both to the mix, but decided that might be too heavy served with the tofu.) I thin sliced onions, part to add to the ceviche tofu, and part to saute along with broccoli and garlic. To that mixture I added a lot of shredded cheese. Yum...!
For the potatoes, I decided to try something new. (Ok, new to me.) I have always made my mashed potatoes by boiling the potatoes before mashing them. This time I decided to bake them, both to see how it would taste and to try to reduce the amount of moisture in the resulting mash mix. Once roasted, I scooped the flesh from the potatoes, and did a sort of mashing/shredding combination to them. An egg was mixed in and I was ready to assemble the papas. This was a very messy process, so there are no pictures. (Sorry!) I took a handful of potatoes and flattened it into a disk in my hand. I then put a scoop of the broccoli mixture into the potatoes and closed it up - essentially making a potato shaped bundle. The sealed potato ball was then rolled in flour, dipped in egg and coated with home-made breadcrumbs. (I actually, on the recommendation of one of my fellow Daring Cooks, double breaded the papas - re-dipping in eggs and crumbs after the initial layer.) I got six papas from the amount of potatoes I had. It was finally time to fry...This was the second month in a row where the Daring Cooks challenge involved deep frying. (Remember the tempura?) I don't deep fry that frequently, and I wasn't too keen to do it again so soon. I decided to do a shallow fry for these papas. I didn't realize, though, how quickly they would fry! My first batch burned on the bottom. Not too badly - they still tasted good, but they looked a little black... Oops... I was more vigilant with the second batch, and they came out nice and golden brown on the outside and melty on the inside.
Dinner that evening was a Peruvian feast! (Ok, it was a totally Americanized Peruvian feast...!) The tofu ceviche and broccoli and cheese papas were fabulous! It was the perfect combination of light yet satisfying. I am really looking forward to trying different variations on both of these dishes!Thank you so much, Kathlyn, for openig my eyes to Peruvian cuisine! This was a wonderful challenge, and I am really thrilled to have been able to participate this month!
I highly recommend taking a look here to see the amazing Peruvian treats created by my fellow Daring Cooks!