Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Peruvian Juanes in Celebration of St.John's Day...

How much do I love learning about other cultural food specialties around the world with a similar offering like my Chinese background. Over the years, I've appreciated hearing about and trying dumplings from different heritages. For starters, there's Chinese dumplings, then there's Japanese gyozas, Polish and Russian perogies, Italian gnocchi, which in itself offer a multitude of varieties, fillings, wrapping and cooking technique depending on region and specialty, and so the different countries' dumpling list goes on... 

When I posted my recipe on making Zong Zi (bamboo leaves wrapped rice dumplings) for Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, I happily learned there are many other leaves-wrapped hearty meal-in-itself dumplings made in other parts of the world.  Last year, my friend Sandra Mukidza shared her Luwombos recipe (mashed bananas and meat wrapped in banana leaves)- a Kenyan specialty, and this time while posting my second attempt at Zong Zi on Facebook, lovely Chef Jesica Winitzky and Food Revolution Ambassador Peru introduced to me her country's rice dumpling wrapped in bijao leaves-- Juanes. Really cool because it sounds like the Mandarin word zong in zong zi and in fact, the Cantonese pronunciation which is how I say it is more similar Joung :).  She tells me these are eaten as part of an important celebration for St.John's Day in the Peruvian Jungle on June 24th. Juan = John thus Juane:)

Jesica's family does not celebrate this tradition, however juane is delicious anytime of year, and she recently made them at home for a Slow Food lunch. She is also a regional leader championing Slow Food International in Lima, Peru.

Photo Credit: Chef Jesica Winitzky

The festivities start the night of the 23rd and St. John's Day is the 24th and in the Jungle / Amazon it is a very important feast with the main day or the Juane day-- the 24th! But the party starts before and carries on for days usually trying to get the weekend! Here is a link that shows how it is celebrated throughout the Peruvian jungle. 

Intrigued, I tried to call around my multi-cultural home in Toronto with a few Peruvian shops and well-noted restaurants around this time, but was told that this is very specialty food mostly eaten in the jungle back home and not usually made and sold here. Shucks! I suppose I will have to try make them one day (Jesica's recipes to come) with a few substitutes.

Jesica Winitzky, Lima Peru

Photo Credit: Flickr

Jesica's recipe for Juanes is filled with rice, coloured and flavoured with fresh turmeric, a special kind of capsicum pepper, garlic, herbs from the Amazon and filled with chicken (Jesica uses duck), a piece of hard boiled egg, also beaten egg as a binder, and whole black olives. They are wrapped in bijao leaves and then boiled. The way it is wrapped resembles the head of St. John the Baptist given to Salome... (Ha-- Jesica says she knows that sounds awful!).  

A special hot sauce (more like a hot salsa) to accompany this dish is a must, called Ají de Cocona which is made with a special tiny and extremely hot pepper but super aromatic, only found in the Amazon called Charapita pepper. It is also concocted with a jungle fruit called Cocona peeled and diced in concassé, lime juice, diced onion, sachaculantro and salt.

Here is a youtube recipe of how to make Juanes. It is actually quite easy to make and the ingredients not too complicated except by a couple of things: The Bijao leaves which you can replace with banana leaves and the Sachaculantro (jungle cilantro) which can be omitted or add a bit more bay leaves or up the other ingredients. 

Jesica's recipes for Juanes and special hot sauce to come.

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