A very simple recipe to kick off our month of ancient Andean recipes. This invented meal is composed of some of the kinds of ingredients the Norte Chico, first civilization of South America on the coasts of Peru, might have had available for a hearty supper.
Potato, Sweet Potato, Edo, and corn (not yet cooked)
The people living at Norte Chico in modern Peru got most of their direct food from the ocean, but they also traded that surplus of marine life for a very diverse rest of the diet. Up in the mid and highlands of the Andes, all kinds of foods were being cultivated and domesticated.
There are so many unique roots to South America that I just can’t get my hands on, but I’ve got some domestic versions of some of the main ones. Potato, sweet potato, and any other starchy root like Cassava, Malanga, or Edo.
Large dice the potato, sweet potato, and other roots. You will have to par-cook the corn at least half way if using raw, or just substitute frozen corn and it will cook up nicely with the roots. Put them on top of some herbs or green onions, with a dried chili and some pumpkin or squash seeds. Season with salt.
The ancient Andeans didn’t have pots to boil their food in. It was usually roasted, either in earth ovens or over open fires. Since my Earth oven was under 2 feet of snow when this meal was made, I used my own home oven, at 300F for 2 hours
And now for the star of the show.
There is some debate just how much, but there is no question the Norte Chico got a lot of their daily calories from the sea, notably from anchovies. I don’t have access to fresh anchovies or my favorite, sardines, where I live, but my supermarket at least carries smelts. They make for a decent approximation.
My Earth Oven may be frozen, but I can still light some coals in my grill. You can grill them if you want, but a little more authentic might be to just toss them right on the coals. Only a minute or two on each side, until they’re lightly charred and cooked through.
The flesh will simply pull off the central bone when they are done. Grill and serve fresh, on top of the roots once they’re full cooked.