Aqua Expeditions has a strong commitment to preserving the environment and local customs, including culinary ones, in the Peruvian region. This company value is reflected in the variety of Peruvian dishes available aboard our Amazon vessels. The menus of the Aria Amazon and Aqua Amazon have been carefully designed by Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of the 10 best chefs in Latin America, to reflect local delicacies and use native ingredients. Our culinary team also makes a conscious effort to use local produce as much as possible, sourcing from local growers throughout Peru. Here we describe some of the unique ingredients from the Amazon River region in Peru that are used in our menus on board the Aqua Amazon and Aria Amazon.
There are a wide variety of chillies found in abundance in this part of the Peruvian Amazon, particularly in San Jacinto and Santa Rita near the Nanay River. The chilies are grown in all different colours and sizes and each one has a different level of spiciness. We use them in recipes, make them into sauces and pickle them. Some of the variations of chillies we use are pucunucho, charapita, malagueta, ayuyo, motelillo and misquiucho.
Casho, also known as cashew, is a tree with medicinal properties that can grow up to seven meters high. The Casho is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew nut and the cashew apple. Its fruit is eaten raw and Aqua Expeditions Chefs use it in juices, jams and some desserts.
Tapioca is a product of the root vegetable cassava. Tapioca is made by grinding up the cassava, resting it in water and then drying it out. This leaves a fine-grained powder similar in appearance to corn starch. Our chefs use it in desserts such as lucuma tapioca with chocolate ice cream, tapioca bread and cheese and coconut tapioca and araza ice cream (below).
We source the ingredient from the Santa Rita community where our Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino learned the production process.
Red and green tomatoes can be found growing in the Amazon jungle. Our tomatoes come from the communities near the Nanay River. On the days that Aqua Expeditions chefs use the BBQ, we cook them on the grill giving them a delicious smoky flavour to contrast their natural sweetness.
Doncella is the most traditional fish from the Amazon region. It comes from the cat-fish family and is characterised by its beautiful scale-less skin. The generous flesh of the doncella is used in dishes such as ceviche and hamburgers. The doncella fish comes from the waterways surrounding the Ucayali River.
Paiche is the second largest freshwater fish in the world and it is incredibly popular in the Amazon. It can grow as long as eight feet and can weigh more than 220 pounds. Paiche was at risk of extinction a short time ago, however, thanks to the remarkable conservation efforts of local Peruvians, this fish is now no longer endangered. Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino and Aqua Expeditions work with groups from different communities, such as Bretaña near the Ucayali River and Tigres Negros near the Marañon River, to help in the conservation of this huge fish. The fish are nurtured to achieve their optimal consumption and size and all receive certificates of origin.
With generous and versatile meat, paiche is used to make a variety of delightful dishes for our Aqua Expeditions guests, such as the paiche with chorizo sauce and snake fruit puree pictured below.