Meatless Mondays: Ricardo Zarate's Quinotto Recipe
We may have grown accustomed by now to having quinoa as a grain option, but a quick chat with chef Ricardo Zarate of Picca, Mo-Chica, and Paichewill prove we've only just begun to explore its potential beyond having it as a side dish.
Anne Fishbein Quinotto at Mo-Chica
"I really like to work with quinoa, because it's so flexible. It cooks really fast. You can use it in many different forms. You can make it into a salad or you can stew the quinoa," Zarate says.
Take his quinotto, a porridge of sorts made with quinoa (available at Mo-Chica in downtown) inspired partly by a childhood favorite made with white quinoa, aji amarillo, garlic, and cubed potatoes. "My mom used to cook quinotto for us. She would add spices and we'd add a stew or fried egg on top. I wanted to add something like that to the menu here," the Peruvian chef recalls, adding that the mushroom risotto he learned how to make in London was also a reference.
Zarate's quinotto is not necessarily difficult to make, but it does require some time to put together. It's cooked with a mushroom broth and grated Parmesan cheese, then garnished with grilled king oyster mushrooms, microgreens and truffle oil. It's a easy dish to love both in taste and presentation -- hearty, but with less heaviness than you'd find in a traditional risotto. "An important thing about the Peruvian cuisine is the layering of flavors. I want you to taste the quinoa. You can't have too many flavors or you'd get lost."
Zarate says there are hundreds upon hundreds more types of quinoa varied in color and texture in Peru that we have yet to be acquainted with. A history buff, he likens the development of quinoa varieties to that of potatoes. "The Incans used to mix potato strains and make new varieties. They were playing with different seeds. You have over three thousand varieties of potatoes. I believe they used to to do the same for quinoa."
Turn the page for his recipe...