In Peru, when when you hear the word tacu tacu, it’s referring to a traditional dish that is hearty enough to satisfy not only a craving but a good appetite. Usually made with leftover canary beans, it is also commonly prepared with any other kind of beans, such as lentils, garbanzo beans, or split peas, like I did today.
Green split peas are known as “arvejitas partidas” in our country, and when cooked, they have the tendency to fall apart and become a creamy mash that thickens when cool. I don’t usually wait for them to thicken, because I love them when they are still soupy, accompanied with white or brown rice and a spoonful of salsa criolla on top.
In my kitchen tacu tacu is always made “vegetarian style“, which means that we don´t use ham bones or any other meat in the preparation of the legumes, as is done in most households and restaurants. We only cook them in water or in a vegetable stock, and when ready, a flavorful aderezo is added (aderezo is a mixture of chopped red onion, garlic, and ají amarillo, fried in a little vegetable oil). If you wish, you can also add one chopped tomato to the aderezo.
If we have leftovers, then we use them the next day or the day after, and we make a new aderezo in which we fry the leftover split peas until creamy. Add cold, leftover rice, and cook until everything becomes one big mash. After this step, the tacu tacu is ready to be formed: in a small frying pan with oil, fry the bean and rice mash in individual portions until the edges are crunchy but the center of the tacu tacu remains creamy.
In the meantime, fry some bizcochito (baby) bananas until golden brown. They add sweetness to this entree, and look very pretty on the plate. In the picture below you can see the actual size of these tiny bananas next to regular ones. They are finger-size, and so delicious and fragrant that you can eat them as dessert, as a snack, or fried in this dish or similar ones, like arroz a la cubana.
A fried egg on top of the tacu tacu is a must, but if you don´t like eggs or are allergic to them, just leave them out.
Have a bowl of salsa criolla ready, and top the tacu tacu with a mount of freshly made salsa. Serve immediately.
- ½ cup vegetable oil, divided
- ½ cup scallions or red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste (optional)
- 3 cups leftover cooked green split peas
- 1½ cup leftover cooked rice
- 8 ripe bizcochito bananas
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups salsa criolla
- 4 cilantro sprigs
- Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions or onion, garlic and aji amarillo, and cook until everything is very soft.
- Add the split peas, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, pressing to mash the peas. Add the rice. Continue to cook until the mixture looks like a thick puree.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. When hot add about ½ or ¾ cup of the split pea mixture, and fry until the edges are golden brown. Using a plate turn upside down and return to the pan. Continue frying in the other side.
- In another frying pan heat more oil. Peel the bizcochito bananas and fry until golden.
- Fry the eggs one by one, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve the tacu tacu with a fried egg on top, and place two fried bananas on the side.
- Garnish with salsa criolla and a few cilantro sprigs, and serve immediately.