My Life in Peru

An Expat Mom Shares Her Experiences with Peruvian Life, Travel and Food

Anticuchos de Corazon

Posted on | November 19, 2010 | 2 Comments

Peruvian anticuchos

Image via Wikipedia

Anticuchos are the #1 street food in Peru. I would say that they are second only to ceviche as to being the consummate Peruvian dish. In fact, if you ever come to Peru, you’ll find people will ask these questions all the time: “Have you tried ceviche? Have you tried anticuchos?”

I think it’s kind of funny that people (like taxi drivers) still ask me this question even after I tell them I’ve been here almost seven years.  How could anyone possibly live here that long and never try anticuchos?

Well, the truth is there probably are a lot of people who come to the country and never try them, because of one simple fact – they’re made of beef heart. Anticuchos are one of those foods that were created by slaves working on the haciendas back in the day.  They were given all the leftover and “undesirable” bits of food that the household didn’t want, and these leftovers were used to create some of the best and most loved Peruvian foods.

I’ve noticed that many of my fellow Americans (from the US) have an aversion to organ meats. I myself don’t care for much – I can stand liver, but I don’t like it – and just keep anything like kidneys, brain or tripe far, far away from me, please.

But the heart isn’t like other organs. As you probably remember from science class, the heart is a muscle and so isn’t really all that different from other cuts of meat.  To me, it tastes pretty much like a steak.

So, if it just tastes like  steak, what’s the big deal about anticuchos?

It’s all in the seasonings.


  • 1 beef heart
  • 1 cup of aji panca paste
  • 2 tbsp of garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • salt, pepper and cumin to taste
  1. Wash the heart thoroughly, removing any fat. Cut into 1/2 inch slices about 2″ square. Set aside.
  2. Put the rest of the ingredients in the blender or food processor, and blend.
  3. Pour the mixture over the anticuchos in a large bowl. If you like, save some of the marinade aside to use for basting the meat as it cooks.
  4. Let them sit for at least 2-3 hours. You can refrigerate overnight.
  5. After marinating, put the anticuchos on bamboo or cane skewers, shishkabob style.
  6. Cook on the grill or over open flame.  Think of them as steak – I like mine a little bit pink on the inside.

Serve on a platter with corn on the cob and potatoes. The potatoes are boiled whole, then peeled and cut into thick slices which are then fried golden.

Don’t forget to serve it with a side of aji rocoto dipping sauce!

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2 Responses to “Anticuchos de Corazon”

  1. patti
    December 3rd, 2010 @ 02:31

    I did try both while there. I am not a ceviche fan. The heart was ok. I liked the seasoning. Looking at the picture reminded me of a question I had while there. Why are the corn kernals so large? Like field corn in the states? Also, is it typical that most vegetables are cooked, but served cold? That was surprising and kinda hard to stomach. Is it simply because of the heat? While there, have you gotten used to the warm/room temperature drinks? I really craved ice while there! HA

  2. Kelly
    December 3rd, 2010 @ 08:44

    Yeah, the Andean corn is very different from the small, sweet corn we’re used to in the US.

    I think the custom of cooking all the vegetables, even for salad, comes from a safety issue – but that’s just a guess. It’s very rare to see a vegetable side dish other than corn or a salad with a meal and the salads are served cold. I’ve got my kids eating raw carrot sticks and broccoli, though.

    And yeah – I used to be a huge stickler about having drinks cold, and how much ice I used. I’m over it now. :)

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    I got tired of life happening while I made other plans, so I quit my job and came to Peru. I live here with my Peruvian husband, two sons, three dogs and various other family members, depending on the weather.

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