What is tacu tacu? Its origins may be humble, but Peruvians have found infinite ways to make this dish a spectacular and memorable one.
It’s called tacu tacu (also tacu-tacu), and there are as many versions as there are clouds in the sky. Its origin story starts simple enough: a mixture of rice and beans that would become the subsistence of African slaves across the Americas. In the US, this mixture would turn into the dish Hoppin’ John, while in Cuba it became the famed Moros y Cristianos.
One of the first written mentions of tacu tacu is in the 1872 document, Salpicon de costumbres nacionales, by Federico Flores Galindo. The name derives from the Quechua Word takuy, which means to mix or combine. The standard dish is made with cooked rice, legume of choice, and a sofrito sauce (typically made with ají amarillo, garlic and onion) with which to sauté the ingredients and form a homogenous mass.
Now, here is where the Peruvian creativity kicks in. You won’t find tacu tacu plain and simple rice at restaurants or made at home, but instead it will be made a lo pobre, made with seafood or montado (mounted) with lomo saltado, breaded chicken or made with leftover arroz chaufa. The sky is the limit!
Below is a traditional recipe for tacu tacu by Flavia Hurtado:
For 4-6 people
Ingredients for tacu tacu
- 2 tbsp of chopped onions
- ½ tbsp of garlic
- 3 cups of canary beans (cooked as you like)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 ½ cup of boiled rice
- 1 tbsp of yellow chili paste
- 1 tbsp of parsley
Preparation: Heat up your oil on medium heat and add garlic and onion to frying pan. Once the onion is transparent, add the yellow chili paste and mix for approximately 5 minutes. Add the beans and rice and mix together. Add parsley and stir for another 3 minutes. Compact the mix into a cylindrical shape, and turn up the heat to brown the top and bottom. Plate your tacu tacu. A quick accompaniment can be a fried egg or friend plantain.
Bonus: Canary beans recipe
Ingredients for canary beans:
- ½ kilo of canary beans (soak in water overnight)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- Salt, cumin and pepper to your liking
- 150 g of bacon6. 4 tbsp of vegetable oil
Preparation: A day before, soak the beans in water. (Pro tip: After 5 hours, change the water and add 1 tbsp of baking soda for extra buttery beans). The next day, boil the beans in water ,with 50 g of bacon, in a pressure pot on low heat for about 35 to 40 minutes. In a frying pan, sauté the onion, garlic and rest of the bacon, Add salt, cumin and pepper. After about 40 minutes, open the pot and add the sautéd ingredients and let it cook for another 10 minutes. (You can cook the beans in a regular pot, it should take 1 to 1.5 hours to cook).
Cover photo: Gaston Acurio Facebook Page
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