Tacu Tacu, Peru’s Hearty Rice & Beans Dish

In the nineteenth century, when African labor slaves were brought to Peru, a new kind of Afro-Peruvian fusion cuisine was born, and the Tacu Tacu was born of this fusion.

It is a hearty and substantial meal that has seen many variations in the past and is enjoyed even today, especially during a cold Peruvian afternoon.

Tacu Tacu is made of leftover beans and rice mashed with onion, garlic, oregano, and aji amarillo paste, and fried. This humble dish has seen a lot of variation over the years. Many restaurants in Lima, Peru serve up a glorified version of this exotic dish today.

The dish Tacu Tacu is rich in history and hearty as a meal. It is an Afro-Peruvian specialty you would not like to miss.

So loved within Peru, it made our list of 17 Best Peruvian Foods You Have To Try.

To know more about the origin, what aspects of the Peruvian dish changed over time, and what did not, keep on reading.

The History of Peruvian Tacu Tacu

Tacu Tacu originated when Africans were brought to Peru as slaves during colonial times.

The African slaves who worked on the estates during the colonial period used leftovers to make hearty and healthy meals like the Tacu Tacu.

Their influence is seen on many dishes that are still served in Peru today. They would use leftover beans and rice for cooking a filling meal that we know as Tacu Tacu. 

This dish is now considered a legacy of the Afro-Peruvian cuisine.

Tacu Tacu is a dish that is currently served almost everywhere in Peru. Each region in the country has created its own version of it by cooking and serving it in its own distinct way.

Tacu Tacu Has Humble Origins

As a dish that originated from utilizing the leftovers, Tacu Tacu has very humble origins. This earthy Peruvian comfort food is basically beans and rice.

Still, it is transformed into savory goodness by frying it lightly in oil and serving it with more interesting side dishes.

When making this dish, it is important to use day-old rice and beans as that lends a unique flavor to this dish. The exterior of Tacu Tacu is toasty and golden, having been fried in oil.

Its light and crisp texture on the outside and the tender filling inside is the quintessential element of the dish that makes it unique from other Peruvian dishes such as the tamale.

How to Prepare Tacu Tacu

Peruvian Tacu Tacu Dish with fried egg on top.
Tacu Tacu with Fried Egg

Here are the ingredients needed:

  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Leftover Beans – 2 cups
  • Leftover Rice – 2 cups
  • Chicken stock – ½ cup
  • Finely chopped red onion – 1
  • Finely minced cloves of garlic – 4
  • Aji Amarillo paste – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt/pepper – To taste

To make this, follow this simple set of instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a pot and add one finely chopped red onion. Sauté the onion till it caramelizes. The onion will give out a sweet smell and look slightly brown and translucent at this stage.
  2. Next, add the four cloves of finely minced garlic. You could also crush the garlic with a pinch of salt using the mortar and pestle. This helps add a depth of flavor to the dish—Fry the garlic with the onions for half a minute.
  3. Add in the leftover beans and the chicken stock and cook for another five minutes. The beans would be soft and slushy by now as they were already cooked a day earlier. 
  4. At this stage, mash the beans so that it gains a paste-like consistency. Now you can add the Aji Amarillo or the yellow chili paste.
  5. In a separate bowl, take the leftover rice, add the mashed beans to it, and mix until you get a uniform consistency. 
  6. Heat some oil in a fresh pan and mold the rice and beans mixture into long, oval shapes before frying it in hot oil. Remember to only lightly brown the sides so that it remains crispy on the outside and tender within.

Tacu Tacu Variations Across the Regions

This dish has seen many variations over time and across regions. In some places, certain specific beans are used, while other regions cook the dish using lentils.

Typically, Tacu Tacu is served with a fried egg on top or a steak on the side, but some places serve it with grilled shrimp and salad. Other places serve it with fried plantains or the onion-based Salsa Criolla.

The portion sizes also differ; however, they are all generous, and range from fairly large portion sizes to the size of a Frisbee.

Usually, the seafood versions of Tacu Tacu can be found in cevicherias

Other restaurants are also picking up on this, and the El Encuentro de Otani in Chorrillos also does a great version of this dish.

In some places, the seafood is served on top of the rice rather than stuffing inside the Tacu Tacu.

In a restaurant called the El Piloto, in Cañete, an hour’s drive from Lima, another version of the Tacu Tacu called “El Tanque” is served.

The fried mash of rice and beans is served with a side of shrimp sauce, steak that is breaded and fried, plantains, and a fried egg.

Watch this video to see how to make a healthier version of the Peruvian Tacu Tacu:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYvXtDQvJLs

Accompaniments Served With Tacu Tacu

The native Peruvian dish is usually served with a fried egg on top. However, the accompaniments that go along with it can be as varied as one can imagine.

Seafood sauces like shrimp sauce or fried fish are also becoming increasingly common. 

Other toppings can range from fried pieces of plantain and sautéed shrimp to ají de gallina, a form of chicken stew, but the dish on its own is just as delicious.  

Poor Man’s Tacu Tacu

The basic version of Tacu Tacu is also called the poor man’s Tacu Tacu.

You can make this hearty meal by searing a quarter-inch thick steak and adding a fried onion to the main recipe of fried rice and beans. Season the egg and serve it hot.

Where Can You Find the Best Tacu Tacu in Peru

There is an ever-growing number of restaurants serving Tacu Tacu, bringing this dish of humble origins to the gourmet table.

Restaurante Bar Cordano, and the El Rincón Que No Conoces are both in the city of Lima, and they are famous for the Tacu Tacu they serve there.

If you are not living in Peru, you can still whip up this recipe easily at home, no matter which corner of the world you are in.

In the book, How to Cook Peruvian Food In the USA, the author offers some traditional recipes from Peru, including a recipe for Tacu Tacu, that you can refer to if you wish to dabble in Peruvian cooking.

Tacu Tacu Is a Hearty & Wholesome Meal for the Peruvian Winters

Peruvian Dishes of Tacu Tacu and Lomo Saltado
Peruvian Dishes of Tacu Tacu and Lomo Saltado

In Peru, the garua is a gray fog that blankets Lima’s town for most of the year.

During winter, the low temperatures and the biting cold can only be overcome with a warm, hearty, and wholesome meal, like the generous mound of seasoned rice and beans, Tacu Tacu.  

Serve along side with Lomo Saltado and you won’t go to bed hungry.

Conclusion

The simple and nutritious Tacu Tacu is easy to make and can be enjoyed by all.

Vegetarians can use tofu or other proteins as a meat substitute.

The dish is often served with a topping of steak or a fried egg, but it is just as delicious on its own. 

If you enjoy Peruvian cuisine and are a seafood lover to boot, check out, Jalea de Mariscos, Peru’s Fried Seafood Dish.

Or how about one of Peru’s most popular comfort foods, read Salchipapa, Peru’s Tasty Fast Food Dish.

Sources

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