Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tacu-tacu con camarones (prawns) - recipe (Peru)

Tacuyaki con camarones - El Tio Dario

This recipe is adapted from a traditional recipe for tacu tacu combined with Philipe's and Susan's experience eating 'takuyaki' (a fusion of tacu and yaki from Japan) at the El Tio Dario restaurant in Arequipa in Peru. There was a bit of guesswork involved as we couldn't find a complete recipe for it so some of the recipe goes from memory...mmm...

For me (Susan) it was the first dish that really surprised me in flavour, texture and general yumminess from one year of travelling in South America.

Tacu-tacu (together with anticuchos – bbq'd beef heart and picarones – fried pumpkin with molasses) is probably the most characteristic of Afro Peruvian recipes. Black Africans were brought by the Spanish to work as slaves on the coastal plantations, and they introduced their own cooking styles and ingredients to the Peruvian melting pot.

Originally, tacu-tacu was prepared with leftover seasoned beans and rice, which resulted in a very economical and nutritious dish. Today it's usually prepared on-the-moment, and served in many different ways, from the classical criollo style -accompanied with fried eggs and bananas- to the flamboyant (with foie gras). (thanks to
The Plaza de Armas (main square) in Arequipa
El Tio Dario Restaurant



  • 3 cups frijol canario (Peruvian white canary beans) / pinto beans / black eyed beans 
  • 300 g of fat pork or bacon, cut into pieces. 
  • 6 spring onions (shallots), finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 2 fresh chilli's or yellow peppers, de-seeded, de-veined if spicy, finely chopped 
  • 2 cups cooked medium grain rice 
  • Oil, as required 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • 500g prawns, de-shelled and de-veined 
  • Garlic to taste 
  • Red paprika – enough to create a deep red sauce 
  • Congac or other sweet cooking wine, eg. Japanese mirin 
  • Half lemon 
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley or other green herb to saute with prawns 
  • Creole Sauce as a side (optional) 

Soak the beans the night before. The next day, drain and cook in water with the salty pork fat or bacon until soft (about 90mins) and there is no excess water. Remove from heat and cool. Mash beans with a spoon or fork, just enough to obtain a rough purée.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add onion, garlic and chopped chilli's/peppers. Fry until tender and season with paprika. Add the beans and cooked rice and mix well. Season more if needed. Cook until lightly browned. Remove from heat and cool.

Take a portion of the mixture between your hands and give the form of an American hotcake/fat pancake about 15 cm in diameter and 2cm in height. Heat oil in a pan and fry each portion of tacu tacu, turning gently to prevent sticking. Do the same with the rest of the mixture. Let the tacu tacu rest on the serving plate while preparing prawns.

Heat oil in a pan, add garlic and then the prawns. Add in brandy and flambe while tossing to sauté until just cooked. Add in red paprika and let it dissolve into the wine. Finally, add parsley to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice.

To serve, pile prawns on top of the tacu tacu with the sauce. Add extra parsley as garnish.

As an option, you can serve with a traditional Salsa Criolla. This is a combination of red onions cut into thin slices and soaked, then combined with salt, peter, lemon juice, spicy pepper, oil and chopped cilantro or parsley.
NOTE: This dish is deceivingly filling... and packs a rather large amount of calories per serving!
The tacu tacu ready for it's toppings
Some of the ingredients going into the tacu tacu

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