Ocopa

Don’t be put off by the combination of ingredients here. This is a Peruvian dish, substantial and with a beguiling flavour. It should include huacatay, a native herb belonging to the marigold family but, since there is no known substitute, it must be left out.

Ingredients

  • lb (700 g) potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut in half
  • 4 oz (110 g) raw peanuts
  • 6 cream crackers
  • 4 fl oz (110 ml) sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and chopped
  • 4 fl oz (110 ml) evaporated milk
  • 4 fl oz (110 ml) water
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 12 ripe olives

Method

Put the peanuts into a hot oven, gas mark 7/425°F/220°C for about 4–5 minutes until the skins can be rubbed off in a clean cloth. Grind the nuts in a blender and reserve, then do the same with the crackers.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the onion, tomato, garlic and chilli for a few minutes and then put into a liquidiser with the remaining oil. Add the peanuts and crackers and blend well. Mix the milk and the water and pour into the sauce – you may need to add a little more water if the mixture is too thick. Season with the salt. Pour over the previously cooked potatoes arranged on the lettuce leaves. Decorate with the eggs and the olives.

In Raroriam plantarum historia, published 1601, the French botanist Carolus Clusius describes the potato as ‘reddish or verging on purple, with as many as fifty tubers on a root’.

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