Recipe: Ricardo Zarate’s Grilled Paiche Lettuce Wraps with Honey-Miso Glaze

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Chef Ricardo Zarate’s “Grilled Paiche Lettuce Wraps with Honey-Miso Glaze” are perfect as an appetizer or entree. (Photo by Ed Anderson)

Zarate - Fire of Peru cover
“A happy mezcla (mix) of indigenous South American, Asian, African and European influences.”

The man behind the restaurants Mo-Chica, Picca and Paiche has added a cookbook to his resume. Ricardo Zarate’s “The Fire of Peru: Recipes and Stories from My Peruvian Kitchen” takes readers through the diverse culinary landscape and ingredients of Peru. He wrote the book with LA Times food writer Jenn Garbee.

In “Fire of Peru,” Zarate calls Peruvian food an estofado, or stew that has been simmering for the past 500 years. Peru has long been home to indigenous Incas and Moche people. Spanish conquistadores arrived with enslaved Africans in the late 16th century, and more recently Italian, Chinese and Japanese immigrants have put down roots. Such a rich cultural mix has created a fusion cuisine like no other.

In his kitchen one food Zarate cannot live without is the paiche, pronounced “pye-chay.” This enormous fish lives in the Amazon River — read more about efforts to produce paiche sustainably here — and can grow to be 8 feet long. Zarate likes the paiche for its delicate white flesh, subtle buttery flavor and versatility; it can withstand everything from a strong vinegary marinade to being deep-fried. Try out his recipe for “Grilled Paiche Lettuce Wraps with Honey-Miso Glaze.” If you can’t find paiche at the docks, black cod or salmon will work just as well.

Zarate - Paiche
Paiche, pronounced “pye-chay,” lives in the Amazon River and can grow to be 8 feet long. (Photo by Ed Anderson)

Text excerpted from “Fire of Peru,” © 2015 by Ricardo Zarate and Jenn Garbee. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.