Exploring the Flavors of Peruvian Cuisine

Exploring the Flavors of Peruvian Cuisine: A Guide to Essential Herbs

Peruvian cuisine is a vibrant fusion of indigenous, Spanish, African, and Asian influences, creating a unique and flavorful culinary tradition. Central to many Peruvian dishes are a variety of herbs that add depth and complexity to the food. Let’s explore the essential herbs used in Peruvian cuisine and discover how they enhance traditional dishes.

Plus, enjoy a special recipe for a classic Peruvian dish at the end!

1. Cilantro (Culantro):

Cilantro is a staple in Peruvian cooking, known for its fresh, citrusy flavor. It is often used fresh in salads, sauces, and as a garnish. This versatile herb can be found in dishes like Ceviche and Aji de Gallina.

2. Huacatay (Black Mint):

Huacatay is a unique herb in Peruvian cuisine, offering a flavor that combines elements of mint, basil, and tarragon. It is used to make sauces and marinades and is often paired with meats and vegetables.

3. Oregano (Orégano):

Oregano adds a robust, slightly bitter flavor to many Peruvian dishes. It is commonly used dried and is a key ingredient in marinades, soups, and stews.

4. Mint (Hierba Buena):

Mint provides a refreshing taste and is often used fresh in beverages and desserts. In Peruvian cuisine, it is also used in savory dishes, enhancing the flavors of meats and stews.

5. Cumin (Comino):

Cumin is used both whole and ground, providing a warm, earthy flavor. It is a fundamental spice in Peruvian stews, soups, and meat dishes, adding depth to recipes like Lomo Saltado.

6. Paico (Epazote):

Paico, also known as epazote, adds a unique, pungent flavor to Peruvian dishes. It is often used in soups, stews, and to season beans, helping to reduce gas.

7. Thyme (Tomillo):

Thyme is used both fresh and dried in Peruvian cooking. It adds a subtle, aromatic flavor to dishes and is often used in marinades and soups.

8. Parsley (Perejil):

Parsley is used fresh to add a bright, slightly peppery flavor to dishes. It is often used in salads, sauces, and as a garnish for a variety of Peruvian dishes.

9. Rocoto (Capsicum Pubescens):

While not an herb, rocoto peppers are a crucial component of Peruvian cuisine. They add heat and a fruity flavor to many dishes and are often used in sauces and marinades.

Traditional Peruvian Recipe: Lomo Saltado (Stir-Fried Beef)


  • 500g beef sirloin, sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 yellow chili pepper (aji amarillo), sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (culantro), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (comino)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • French fries, for serving
  • White rice, for serving


  1. Marinate the Beef: In a bowl, combine the beef strips with soy sauce, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Cook the Beef: Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the beef strips and cook until browned. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Sauté Vegetables: In the same skillet, add the sliced onion and yellow chili pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato wedges and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Combine Ingredients: Return the beef to the skillet and mix with the vegetables. Add the fresh cilantro and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve: Serve the Lomo Saltado hot, accompanied by French fries and white rice.


The use of herbs in Peruvian cuisine is essential to its distinctive flavors and aromas. Each herb brings its own unique character, enhancing the taste of traditional dishes. By incorporating these herbs into your cooking, you can bring a touch of Peru to your kitchen.