Parihuela, Peruvian Seafood Soup

Peruvian cuisine is know for many incredible savory dishes.  Parihuela is one such dish. This traditional Peruvian soup is so creamy and hearty it can be served as a fulfilling meal.

The Parihuela is a spicy seafood soup with origins from the Peruvian fishing community. It’s popular along the coast. The main ingredient is a firm-fleshed white fish like a fresh cut of sea bass or red snapper. Other ingredients include Dungeness crabs and green prawns to add flavor and contrast.

Two things will guarantee delicious, mouthwatering soup; use fresh ingredients and serve it immediately.

The stew is delicious and nourishing and offers what Peruvian fishermen would enjoy. In this guide, we will share everything you need to know about Peruvian Parihuela. So read on!

Origin of Peruvian Parihuela

As mentioned earlier, the Parihuela is a seafood soup. Its name is derived from a chile pepper meaning “from the mountains” of Hidalgo in Mexico. 

The pepper is common in salsas but can be used in soups, stews, and sauces. Parihuela is also one of the culinary dishes of the culture of Peruvian people. Though it’s similar to the French Bouillabaisse, its flavors and ingredients are uniquely Peruvian. 

Preparing Parihuela

Parihuela Peruvian Seafood Soup
Parihuela Peruvian Seafood Soup

Parihuela in America is commonly made in Peruvian cultural festivals. You will fall in love with the spiciness and flavor, leaving you captivated and yearning for more.

Peruvian delicacies are found more and more in restaurants across America.

Trying to prepare the Parihuela might give you an assumption that it’s difficult to recreate at home.

But that is far from the truth, the soup is not just easy to make, but with the right ingredients, you can get better results from your kitchen.  

The only concern is getting the sort of Peruvian chili peppers you find in this seafood fish soup.

If you try to replace them with other chilies, it won’t work. 

Fortunately, you can get these supplies and every indigenous Peruvian ingredient for your future recipes from a Latin American grocery store, Mexican or Peruvian markets. See the list of the peppers below:

Aji Amarillo Paste

Aji Amarillo Paste
Peru’s Aji Amarillo Paste

The aji amarillo paste is made from an orange pepper – capsicum baccatum pendulum—which is the most relevant ingredient when making Peruvian cuisines since the Inca times.

The plant is cultivated around the country, and locals use it daily to make sauces and stews.  

You can find it in paste, canned, fresh, or dried.

The paste includes boiled, blended fresh aji Amarillo which is the most common spice and well-worth buying, but you can also make it at home.  

On the pepper scale, aji Amarillo measures 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville heat units to match up with cayenne and tabasco chilies.

Compared to jalapeno, Aji Amarillo is twenty times hotter. To top it up, it has a fruity, berry-like flavor.

In case you don’t find aji Amarillo, the next best heat profile available in stores is Serrano pepper, which measures 10,000 – 23,000 Scoville heat units. 

Aji Panca Paste

Peruvian Aji Panca Paste
Peruvian Aji Panca Paste

The paste includes a deep red to burgundy colored chili pepper – capsicum chinense—which is mild and a common ingredient in Peruvian sauces.

The plant is commonly grown in the coastal regions of Peru. It’s dark red and has berry-like sweetness with a smokey undertone. 

Aji Panca is no more than a mild simmer and measures 1,000 – 1,500 Scoville heat units.

It matches up with mild poblano pepper making it two to eight times more pliant than the jalapeno reference point.

A common alternative is the ancho paste with a 1,000 – 1,500 Scoville heat units with a heat profile, but the flavor is a little further away.

It tastes smokey sweet with a touch of the coffee bean to add an earthy twist.  

You can find it in fresh, dried, or paste form. It’s an excellent choice for flavoring soups, stews, rice, and marinated fish and chicken.

Rocoto Paste

Peruvian Rocoto Pepper Paste
Peruvian Rocoto Pepper Paste

The paste is made from yellow or red chili pepper—capsicum pubescent- it’s mild—hot and a critical ingredient in Peruvian cuisine.

Rocoto pepper natively grows on the slopes of the Andes mountain range.  

Aji rocoto is less hot than its close cousin Manzano chili, which measures 12,000 – 30,000 Scoville heat units.

There is juiciness and meatiness to these peppers, which is more akin to a tomato than a chili. 

The pepper typically looks like a small tomato in hues of yellow, orange, and red with dark brown or black seeds.

Aji rocoto has a fresh grassy taste and crisp fruitiness enhanced by the juiciness of the chili itself. 

In case you don’t find aji rocoto, the next best heat profile available in stores is Manzano chili, which measures 10,000 – 23,000 Scoville heat units. 

Other Peruvian Pastes You Can Include in the List

Cooking Parihuela

Parihuela Peruvian Seafood Dish
Parihuela Peruvian Seafood Dish

For eight servings, you need to prepare for 30 minutes and a cooking time of 1 hour and 15 minutes.


There are many steps to making Parihuela, but don’t let it stop you from making this delightful soup at home. 

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to serve eight people:

  • 3.3 lbs of fish head, shrimp shells
  • 1.3 lb white fish fillet (red snapper/sea bass) cut into large pieces 

For the sofrito:

  • Six garlic cloves
  • Three serrano chilies 
  • One bell pepper chopped 
  • Half a tablespoon aji Amarillo paste 
  • One tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
  • Three tablespoons fresh cilantro 
  • One lime juice
  • Six spring fresh thyme or oregano
  • Half a cup white wine

Soup ingredients:

  • 1 lb prawns
  • 2 lb lobster legs 
  • 1 ½ lb squid, cleaned and cut into thick rings, tentacles left whole
  • 1 ½ lb cod 
  • 24 littleneck clams
  • Twelve mussels 
  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • One large onion diced
  • One tablespoon rocoto paste
  • One tablespoon Panca paste
  • Two cups white wine 
  • Two cups of chicken or fish stock 
  • One bear (16 oz)
  • Two tablespoons brandy 
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For garnishing:

  • Peeled blanched tomatoes
  • Previously boiled Peruvian corn kernels
  • Cilantro 
  • A dash of olive oil
  • Pickle onions 
  • Extra lime 
  • Extra Serrano


To make Parihuela, follow this simple simple procedure:

  1. Place the octopus in a large stewpot, add ten cups of water and boil it for around 1 ½ hour until tender.
  2. Add the mussels to the boiling broth in the last 30 minutes. When ready, remove from heat, allow to cool and strain the fish and save the stock.
  3. Make the sofrito ingredients and blend well—reserve until when needed. Also, season the fish fillet with salt and black pepper and drizzle a little olive oil and white wine.
  4. Bake the fish for 10 – 15 minutes and reserve.
  5. In oil, saute garlic and onions in a large deep pot until they become tender. Add the sofrito and cook for five minutes. Add the lobster legs, squid or crab, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add wine, diced tomato, aji pastes, beer, and fish stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add mussels and clams. When they start to open, add the prawns and squids, and cook for five minutes.
  8. Add the octopus and stir. Allow it to cook for three minutes.
  9. Pour the brandy and cook for two more minutes. You can also add salt and black pepper if needed.
  10. Add the baked fish.
  11. Serve hot and garnish each bowl with cilantro and a few drops of lime juice.
  12. Never overcook the fish as the pieces should remain whole when served. You can accompany Peruvian Parihuela with a Reveilo wine for a perfect match. 


Peruvian Seafood Soup Parihuela
Peruvian Seafood Soup Parihuela

Peruvian Parihuela is a Peruvian cultural dish from chile pepper, meaning “from the mountains” of Hidalgo Mexico. 

Fishers in the coastal region enjoy this soup after a long day fishing.

The Peruvian Parihuela is easy to prepare as long as you have the right ingredients.

Don’t be tempted to omit the chili or replace it; if you do, the soup won’t have the same flavor and contrast.

If you enjoy Peruvian seafood dishes, check out Jalea de Mariscos, Peru’s Fried Seafood Dish and Chupe de Camarones.

And don’t forget dessert! Here’s 9 Peruvian Desserts You’ll Die For!


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