Tiradito: Peru’s Japanese Influenced Fish Dish

Tiradito is one of those rare dishes that blend two cultures into one. Made with fresh ingredients and served cold, tiradito is quick, easy to make, and tastes out of this world.

This dish is one of the creations of Nikkei cuisine. It’s the perfect blend of long-established Japanese traditions and the unique ingredients found only in Peru.

Tiradito has become one of Peru’s most beloved foods.

The Origins of Nikkei Cuisine

Nikkei dishes are known for being healthy and rich in flavor. It uses, for the most part, sashimi-grade fish. The great thing about Nikkei is that it’s low-carb and low-fat, yet delicious and full of flavor. What a combination!

This unique cuisine came about as a result of the fusion of Japanese recipes made with Peruvian ingredients. The term ‘Nikkei’ refers to the Japanese people who live outside Japan.

Japanese Workers Get Creative in Peru

In 1899, thousands of Japanese workers started migrating to Peru, looking for better working conditions. Their jobs included farming sugarcane, among other crops.

Once their job contracts were over, many of these workers stayed in Peru. They quickly became part of Peruvian society, forming families and boosting the country’s economy.

This gave way to the Nikkei-cooking style. It was created by using age-old Japanese cooking techniques. But they couldn’t use Japanese ingredients because they couldn’t find most of them in Peru.

So, they managed to use whatever ingredients they could find in Peru. That resulted in delicious alternative dishes that mixed the best of both worlds.

Using old techniques to cook new ingredients seemed to be gaining success with each dish.

Bringing Nikkei into the Limelight

One of the pioneers of Nikkei is the renowned chef, Mitsuharu Tsumura, or Micha for short. His father was one of the Japanese workers who migrated to Peru.

While creating a better life for his family, he always had a longing for the traditional foods he’d grown accustomed to.

So Micha’s father did the next best thing. He sought out Peruvian ingredients similar to those they had back in Japan and got to cooking.

Born in Peru to a Peruvian mother and a Japanese father, Micha’s life was the perfect blend of these two worlds. His parents managed to combine two distinct flavors into individual savory dishes.

This introduced him to the world of Nikkei. Soon, opened his very own Nikkei restaurant in the capital of Peru, Maido.

It currently sits at 10th place on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Micha defines Nikkei cuisine as ‘the union of two styles that is intentional, no longer out of necessity.’

Where Did the Name ‘Tiradito’ Come From?

Tiradito Peruvian Food
Peruvian Classic Tiradito

No one’s quite sure how the name came about.

We asked several chefs, and they all agreed: tiradito is the shortened form of the Spanish word ‘tiradito.’ It means ‘stretched out.’

This could be in reference to the fact that early Japanese chefs used to cut the fish into thin slices.

These slices looked translucent on the plate that they gave the impression they had been stretched.

It could be that, with time, the name got shortened to the ‘tiradito’ we’re all familiar with today.

Tiradito is one of the most common Nikkei foods. It’s known for its rich flavors, mainly because it’s served without heavy creams or sauces to weigh it down.

Having few condiments and dressings allow you to concentrate more on the flavor of the raw fish.

It’s often referred to as tiradito de pescado or Peruvian sashimi. Peruvians of Japanese descent mainly developed it in response to a cultural need for sashimi-style dishes.

Now, tiradito can be found in many Nikkei restaurants worldwide, using a variety of fish species. The most common types are salmon, corvina, bass, or tuna.

The plentiful choices are thanks to Peru’s abundant ocean. That ensures that fresh tiradito can be found on the menu almost every single day of the year.

How to Make Tiradito

Tiradito Traditional Fusion of Peruvian and Chines cuisine
Tiradito Dish

Here’s a simple yet delicious way to make tiradito at home.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams of sashimi-grade fish, thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet potato, large
  • 1 ear of sweet corn or large-grained Peruvian corn, called choclo
  • The juice of 8 key limes
  • 70 grams of yellow chili (aji amarillo) paste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1 small red Peruvian chili pepper (aji limo), thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 grams of freshly peeled ginger (optional)

Preparation

  1. Dice the sweet potato into half-inch cubes. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes until they’re soft.
  2. Boil the choclo for 20 minutes. If you’re using sweet corn, you only need to boil it for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Slice the fish into thin slices. Make sure you cut across the grain, not against it, and use a sharp slicing knife for better results.
  4. Arrange the thinly sliced fish on the plate. Place the plate in the fridge to give time for the fish to chill.
  5. Mix the lime juice, garlic, cilantro, ginger, and aji amarillo paste in a blender.
  6. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Pro-tip: To make sure the blend is completely smooth, pass it through a sieve.
  7. If you’re using veggie alternatives, slice them up now and arrange them on the plate.
  8. If you’re using fish, take out the plate of fish from the fridge.
  9. Gently pour the sauce on top of the plate.
  10. Add the sliced sweet potato and choclo or sweetcorn kernels. Top it with some aji limo slices to taste and serve!

Cooking Tips

Use these tips for a healthy and delicious tiradito dish.

  • Always choose the best quality of fish.
  • Make sure the fish is a fresh catch-of-the-day and is safe to eat raw.
  • Remember to keep it in the fridge until it’s time to start preparing it.
  • Use mushrooms, eggplant, or artichokes if preparing a vegan or vegetarian tiradito.

What’s the Difference between Tiradito and Ceviche?

Even though tiradito is similar in style to the Peruvian dish, ceviche, several things set them apart. For example, with ceviche, the fish is cubed, while with tiradito, it’s thinly sliced.

Another difference is that ceviche is marinated in lime juice before serving. On the other hand, tiradito is sauced immediately before serving.

Tiradito has a more fishy flavor, depending on the type of fish used in the dish. It’s also known for combining garlic and ginger flavors, which are less common in ceviche.

A final distinction between these two dishes is that tiradito is referred to as ‘sashimi,’ while ceviche is often grouped in with sushi-type cuisine.

You may be wondering, ‘Aren’t sushi and sashimi the same?’ While they both stem from Japanese origins, the way they’re prepared and served are quite different.

Sashimi

Sashimi with chopsticks
Sashimi

Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish. It’s served plain, without any side dishes or extra condiments, except for soy sauce.

When you hear the words ‘sashimi-grade fish,’ you know you’re getting the best seafood quality. Popular types of sashimi fish include:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Shrimp
  • Octopus

Sushi

Various colorful sushi rolls
Sushi

The word ‘sushi’ means ‘it’s sour.’ That’s because it’s made with vinegar rice, combined with several other ingredients.

It’s also worth noting that sushi isn’t all raw fish. That’s one available option when you order sushi.

You can also order sushi with cooked fish. All types of sushi are served cold.

Popular types of fish used to make sushi are:

  • Tuna
  • Snapper
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel

A Final Note on Tiradito

Peruvian Tiradito Dish
Peruvian Tiradito Dish

Tiradito is a common item on Nikkei menus.

It’s a mouth-watering blend of Peruvian ingredients known for their rich flavors and Japanese cooking techniques.

The wonderful thing about tiradito is that it respects both the Japanese and Peruvian cultures.

Each side brings something unique to the table. When you merge them, you create culinary magic!

Read about the Chinese influences on Peruvian cuisine with Chifa: Peruvian Chinese Fusion Food.

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