Jalea De Mariscos, Peru’s Fried Seafood Dish

Peruvian cuisine has been heavily influenced by the Spanish way of cooking.

Their dishes are mostly made from locally sourced food, such as potatoes, corn, and seafood; commodities that date as far back as the Inca Empire.

The influence of Spanish cooking saw the emergence of many new dishes such as the Jalea de Mariscos.

Peruvian Jalea de Mariscos is a dish piled high with fried seafood such as fish, shrimp, and calamari. This dish is topped with a lime-marinated dressing of onion, cilantro, and tomatoes. Though the dish dates back many centuries, it is considered the very pinnacle of Peruvian gastronomy.

Jalea de Mariscos is a staple in the coastal parts of Peru, and it finds a special place reserved for it in the gastronomic festivals all around the country.

It is widely popular in Peruvian restaurants, and many have even taken this recipe back to their homeland to prepare their own renditions of the dish.

In this article, we will be looking at the many factors that shaped this traditional Peruvian dish to what it is today.

The Origin of Jalea de Mariscos

It is believed that this dish originated from the northern part of Peru, specifically from the cities of Lambayeque and Piura. It is a staple food in many parts of Peru, especially the coastal regions.

Previously the Jalea de Mariscos was prepared using fish and served with chocolate and lemon juice.

Red peppers were also used for cooking this dish to give it that bit of extra heat.

Some other renditions of the dish contain a mix of vegetables in addition to the fish. It was always accompanied by cassava and salsa criolla

Over time, the names and ingredients changed as the Spanish cooking style began to influence Peruvian cooking.

Understanding the Etymology of the Name “Jalea”

As the Moche civilization flourished in Peru, they developed their own cooking styles and eating habits. It was these people who coined the word “jalea.”

This word has its roots in the ancestral technique of conservation of fish by these Mochica people.

They would dry out the fish in the sun. This helped in conserving the fish for longer periods. They would cook the fish and serve it along with other condiments and healthy juice.

Previous Renditions of Jalea de Mariscos

Many centuries back, this dish was prepared using coconut and meatballs and served with cabbage, aji amarillo—a kind of spicy sauce, and chocolates. Lemon juice was also added to the dish.

The basic dish remains the same even today though the accompaniments served alongside the dish differ based on what is readily available to be served alongside the actual dish.

History of Jalea de Mariscos

Though some believe that this dish originated in Lambayeque and Piura’s cities, there is another stream of thought that places the origin of this celebrated dish in the city of Chiclayo.

The city of Chiclayo is one of the busiest areas in Peru and is considered the birthplace of many crops, like the quinoa and lima beans.

Many believe that Chiclayo is also the birthplace of jalea, one of Peru’s most delectable dishes.

Chiclayo is located along the coastal line. Seafood is available aplenty around this region.

The people in and around this city make jalea mostly during the summer as it is a light and filling dish that can be easily digested.

Recipe for Jalea de Mariscos

Peruvian Food Jalea de Mariscos
Jalea de Mariscos, Peru’s Seafood Platter

In order to prepare this dish, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil – 1 quart (0.5 kilos)
  • Sliced fish fillet – ½ pound (225 gram)
  • Shrimp or squid – ½ pound (225 gram)
  • All-purpose flour – 4 cups
  • Corn-starch – ½ cup
  • Baking powder – 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Thinly sliced onion – 1 large
  • Chopped and deseeded aji amarillo – 1 medium
  • Paprika – ½ teaspoon
  • Diced tomatoes – 2 medium-sized
  • Chopped cilantro leaves – ½ cup
  • Minced garlic – 1 clove
  • Lime juice – ¼ cup
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Once you have the ingredients in place, you can follow this simple step-by-step process to make your own Peruvian Jalea de Mariscos from the comfort of your home.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
  2. Separately, in a pot pour some oil and begin heating it.
  3. While the oil in the pot is being heated, add half of the flour to a mixing bowl.
  4. Next, put in the corn-starch, baking powder, salt and pepper, paprika, and combine.
  5. Now add water and whisk the mixture to form a batter. Remove any lumps that may form after adding the water. The batter should be of thick and runny consistency.
  6. In a separate bowl, add the remaining flour for coating. Do not add anything else to this bowl. The fish fillet will be coated with a layer of the flour before dipping it into the batter to hold the batter better.
  7. Take a slice of the fish fillet at a time and coat it with the flour before dipping it in the batter.
  8. Coat the batter laden fish fillet once more with the dry flour and follow the same steps with the remaining fillets.
  9. Gently lower the fish fillets into the hot oil for frying. Keep turning it every few minutes till you see a crisp golden brown color form on the outside. If done on a high flame, this should take anywhere between three to four minutes.
  10. Once fried, transfer the fish on a paper towel-lined tray and sprinkle salt on top. Let it rest for sometime before moving it to a baking tray.
  11. Bake the fish for another 10 minutes in the oven and serve with salsa criolla and cassava.

To try a different version of this recipe, you can check out this YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Zp1UC3Gd7M

Variations Seen in Making the Peruvian Jalea de Mariscos

Based on the ingredients available, the jalea can be made either solely with single seafood or with a mixture of seafood and vegetables.

Depending on what you choose to make the jalea with, the dish has been given many names from “jalea,” which indicates that the dish includes fish to “jalea mixta”, which means mixed jalea and may contain more than one kind of seafood and vegetables.

The Best Accompaniments That Go With the Peruvian Jalea de Mariscos

This Peruvian delicacy includes seafood and a salad mixture with toppings and accompaniments such as plantain, cassava, or the ubiquitous salsa criolla.

Many choose to top the dish with lime-marinated onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Others add a corn mix. This side dish is commonly known as the salsa criolla.  

Some even serve it with Peruvian tartar sauce and with slices of lime and mayo on the side.

In case you do not have the Peruvian version, you can always pick up the Original Colman’s English Tartare Sauce, which will go just as well with the dish.

Restaurants Outside of Peru Serving Jalea de Mariscos  

Jalea de Mariscos Peruvian Seafood dish served in the shape of a fish.
Jalea de Mariscos Peruvian Seafood Dish

The Locura Marina in New York and other restaurants like Mario’s Peruvian and Seafood Restaurant, or the Don Paquito restaurant in Los Angeles, are known for serving up this delectable dish of Jalea de Mariscos.

Conclusion

Peruvian Jalea de Mariscos has had an interesting history, has seen many variations, and is found all across Peru today.

The recipe itself has found a pride of place in local restaurant menus, and many have adopted the recipe and taken it back with them to their home countries to give a fresh spin to the dish.

If seafood is your thing, traditional Peruvian seafood dishes like Parihuela and Chupe de Camarones, won’t disappoint you.

Sources

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