Anticuchos is a delicious grilled dish close to the heart of every Peruvian. It is a common street food in Peru. While you roam in the streets of Lima, you often notice food stalls called anticucheras that specifically serve anticuchos. Peruvian historians believe that anticucho comes from Quechuan word “antikuchu”. Anti stands for “Andes” while kuchu stands for “cut.”
Anticuchos has its origins in Peru since Pre-Columbian era. The dish was quite popular during the Inca Empire where llama was used instead of beef but without any interesting ingredients in it. The use of beef started only after Spanish conquest. They brought their unique style of cooking to Peru along with many foreign ingredients like beef, garlic, cumin and vinegar.
Anticuchos was first prepared in its present form by African slaves brought down by Spaniards to work on their cotton and sugarcane plantations. The Spaniards used to feed their slaves with innards from beef. The innards were not edible in their raw form so the Africans devised an idea of marinating it with the ingredients sourced from their counterparts working in Spanish kitchens. The mixture was then cut into pieces and cooked on fire. The result was anticuchos which became highly popular across the empire. Today, anticuchos is eaten across Latin America.
Anticuchos is primarily made with beef heart though it can be made with other types of meats as well. It is often served with boiled potato and bread hooked at the end of the skewer. To get the best quality of anticuchos, it should be cleaned, cut and seasoned well. It tastes the best if marinated overnight with salt, garlic, vinegar, cumin seeds and ají panca (Peruvian red chili pepper) that gives it a smoky feel. The seasoning of anticuchos should be done appropriately not making it too spicy because it is often accompanied with ají sauces to moderate the amount of spicy content in the dish. It is not a full meal though but a great snack that can be enjoyed at any time of the day with a chilled beer or Inca Kola.
Image Source: “Anticucho del Perú”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anticucho_del_Per%C3%BA.JPG#/media/File:Anticucho_del_Per%C3%BA.JPG