In January of 2007 I spent a few weeks visiting an old friend in Lima, Peru. I was lucky enough to spend my time traveling through different parts of Peru, seeing the sites and taking in the cuisine. Freshly squeezed juices, empanadas, sweet fried dough, with sugary syrups were some of the favorite street foods I discovered. Not to mention the beautiful scallops with bright orange livers still attached and quivering in their shells and what must be the national dish of Peru, ceviche. But my two favorite snacks to buy on the street were definitely grilled chicken hearts and hard boiled quail eggs.
Ladies would sit on the sidewalk with small grills selling various kinds of skewered meats gently seasoned with a little bit of salt, some chili's and a gentle squeeze of lime. This accompanied with a bag of tiny hard boiled eggs (I'm assuming they were quail eggs) and I could happily wander the streets for hours munching on hearts and peeling eggs.
I'm going to try and recreate some of my favorite flavors of Peru by making a simple snack of hard boiled quail eggs and grilled chicken hearts.
To begin I marinade my chicken hearts in the juice of two limes and some chili flake. I would have been happier with fresh chili's, but I'm afraid the ones I knew where in my fridge had disappeared.
These hearts sit in the fridge overnight.
The next day when I'm ready for my snack, I take my hearts out of the fridge and trim off the fat, and some of the more intrusive valves that stick out of the top of the heart.
Trimmed, marinaded chicken hearts.
Now that my hearts are ready to be skewered, I move on to my quail eggs.
To my delight, they're Canadian.
I follow the instructions on the package, and boil my quail eggs for six minutes.
Hopefully they turn out just right.
I use an old trick my Uncle taught me, and soak my skewers in water. Supposedly to ensure that they don't set on fire on the grill. Less of an issue when you're grilling inside, but I am a creature of habit.
The quail eggs are cooked, now all that's left is cooking my hearts. I heat up my grill pan, it's not quite a charcoal grill on the streets of Lima but I'm afraid it'll have to do.
The grill is heated and oiled; ready for my skewers.
The grill pan.
Ideally I want a little char on the hearts, so once I've achieved that after a few minutes and several turns they go to rest on a plate after a quick sprinkle of salt.
Ready to rest on a plate.
It's time for my snack. A quick squeeze of lime and the hearts are salty and spicy, with a little bit of acid. And the tiny quail eggs are the perfect base contrast to the hearts.
It's not quite Peru, but it's several steps above a snack of crackers and peanut butter. In fact there is a lot of food here, my quick snack may just turn into an early supper.