Tacu Tacu Recipe is definitely one of my favourite Peruvian dishes. It’s made of a mix of rice and beans that’s then pan-fried. This results in a golden outside and creamy interior that will blow your mind. At my house in Peru, we would have it all the time and it was always a great day.
How to make Tacu Tacu
This Peruvian Tacu Tacu recipe was originally made to use up leftover beans and rice. The beans are half-blended to get that creamy texture. To that, we add a sofrito of onion, garlic and ají amarillo paste. This bean mixture alone is already worth eating with a spoon. However, we take it a step further! We divide it into portions and pan-fry it in a large skillet over medium-high heat to them to get a golden and crispy exterior. On the inside, it stays creamy and delicious. I guess you could say it’s like “bean pancakes”, only better. This recipe is amongst the group of recipes in Peruvian Cuisine called “comida criolla” or creole cuisine.
The origin of Tacu Tacu
Tacu Tacu is a dish that was born during the Spanish colonial times in Peru. The dish mixes Peruvian food with the food that the African slaves ate in the haciendas on the coast. Since slaves typically received leftovers, they would make the most of it and that’s where the original recipe was born. It started in the haciendas of Chincha and Cañete and then expanded all along the coast. About the name Tacu Tacu, there are conflicting versions of the origin. One historian thinks it’s from the Quechua meaning “crushed.” However, the other version makes more sense to me: that they adapted it from the slave’s Swahili word “taka” which means food. Nowadays, we know that this dish is so good it’s worth making beans and rice just to make it.
Can you make Tacu Tacu with other legumes?
Oh my god yes. Tacu Tacu can be made with any legume. The classic version is the one that I teach you here using Canary beans, also called Peruano or Mayocoba. They have a very distinct taste and if you can, start there. If using other legumes, the basis that you need for it to work is that you need to blend half of them once cooked. This creamy texture binds the mixture together when you cook it in the pan. My favourite alternative legumes for this recipe are broad beans/butter beans and lentils. You could also use black beans or pinto beans, for example. Another alternative you could explore is to use brown rice instead of white.
How to make Tacu Tacu from leftovers
Maybe you’re here because you heard about this amazing Peruvian recipe called Tacu Tacu that uses leftover ingredients: rice and beans. If you have these leftovers, here’s how to make it into this dish. First, blend half your beans into a purée. Then, make the sofrito below to add an extra layer of flavour to them. Finally, add the rice little by little until you get a thicker yet still creamy paste. Be careful not to add too much rice or it will dry up, the portion of the rice mixture is important. Now you’re ready to pan-fry it into golden perfection.
How to serve Tacu Tacu
Tacu Tacu can be served with many things. The way we had it at home was with pan-fried bananas in a bit of butter (yes, regular bananas) and fried eggs. Also, you cannot skip the salsa criolla, which is basically a quick-pickled onion with ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli). Another delicious alternative is to serve it with lomo saltado. Oh my god, that combination is the best you will ever have in your life! It’s not a light meal, mind you, but it is astoundingly delicious. Another good option is to have it with a thin beef milanese.
There are a few ingredients that make any Tacu Tacu a great one. Take your notepad and make sure to note them down:
- The beans: As I mentioned before, traditionally, we make Tacu Tacu using a Peruvian bean called Canary beans, Peruano or Mayocoba. Since beans travel so well, you can usually find them online. If it’s your first time making this recipe, definitely try to make it with this bean.
- The aji amarillo paste: This yellow Peruvian chilli is a flavour powerhouse. It’s not spicy when cleaned and handles correctly as I show you in my homemade aji amarillo paste recipe. It has so much flavour in it that it will make a difference in the final product. If you cannot make it because you can’t find fresh chillies, you can buy it online or at local Latino stores.
- Red onions: Peruvians love red onions with all their hearts. Here you can see it in the beans, again in the sofrito and you don’t want to skip it or swap it for brown onion.
The famous flip to shape it
Traditional Peruvian Tacu Tacu is pan-fried in a non-stick pan. It’s in there also where we shape into this pointed oval shape. We do this by flipping the mix in the pan along the edge furthest away from you. It’s this flipping and twirling that gives it its shape. Now, if that feels like a bit too much or you don’t have a non-stick pan with a rounded edge, you can pre-shape them using wet hands. After shaping them, you just add them to the pan and use a spatula to flip it. A lot more decent, a lot less exciting, too!
More Peruvian Recipes
If you’re looking for more traditional Peruvian Cuisine recipes because you’re intrigued and hungry, here are some of my favourites:
Traditional Peruvian Tacu Tacu Recipe (Beans and Rice)
For the Peruvian Beans
- 1 kg Canary / Mayocoba / Peruano beans
- 1 slice bacon (skip if vegetarian)
- 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- ½ large red onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced finely grated or puréed
- 1½ litre water
- Salt and pepper
For the rice (ideally, prepare it the day before)
- 1 tsp olive oil or another type of oil
- 1 garlic clove finely grated chopped or ground (optional but highly recommended)
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 1¼ cup water
For the tacu tacu
- Vegetable or olive oil
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves puréed finely grated or minced
- 6 tbsp ají amarillo paste Peruvian yellow chilli paste
- Salt and Pepper
For the salsa criolla (prepare a couple of hours before erving)
- 1 ají amarillo Peruvian yellow chilli
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
For the garnishes
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 bananas cut in half lengthwise
- 6 eggs
For the Peruvian Beans
- Soak the beans overnight or for at least 8 hours in plenty of water at room temperature. (SEE NOTES)
- Drain the beans and discard the water.
- Preheat a large pot over medium heat and place the bacon at the centre. Let it become golden for a couple of minutes per side. Remove and reserve.
- Add the oil and onion and cook it until it's slightly golden, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute.
- Add the beans and the water and stir. Also, add the bacon we cooked before.
- Bring everything to a slow simmer and cover. Let it cook for 1h-1h30min or until if you crush a bean against the side of the pot it easily disintegrates. If using a pressure cooker, 40min will be perfect at high pressure.
- Blend half of the beans. This makes them creamy and delicious. Season with salt and pepper.
For the rice (ideally, prepare it the day before)
- Preheat a small pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and salt and stir until the garlic starts to become golden. Don't let the garlic burn.
- Add the rice and stir constantly for one minute. This helps the grains stay apart once they are cooked instead of sticky.
- Add the water still on medium heat and let it break to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a minimum and place the lid on the pot.
- After 15 minutes, use a fork to move the rice on a spot and check that there's no water left at the base of the pot. If there's still water there, let it cook for a few more minutes. If there's no more water, use a fork to mix and fluff up the rice and let it dry out over medium heat for an extra minute without the lid on.
For the Tacu Tacu
- Preheat a small pan to medium heat. Add a bit of oil along with the onion. Sautée it until it starts to become golden.
- Add the garlic and ají amarillo paste and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Add the mix to the beans and mix. Then add the rice and repeat. Taste it and correct the level of salt if needed.
- Preheat a non-stick 10-inch pan over medium-high, ideally with rounded edges.
- Add a thin layer of oil and use a heat-proof brush to make sure both the base and sides have a thin coating.
- Add a generous ladle of the Tacu Tacu mix and flip it towards the front of the pan in the air repeatedly. This action will form a pointed oval shape. If this seems like it's not your cup of tea, you can shape the portion before adding it to the pan with wet hands.
- Let the Tacu Tacu become golden on that side for about three minutes and flip it. You can use the same motion of the pan as before or use a spatula to flip it carefully. Let it become golden on that side too.
- Serve immediately, sliding it carefully off the pan.
For the salsa criolla (prepare a couple of hours before serving)
- Cut off the tips of the ají amarillo and cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and veins and slice it thinly. Reserve.
- Wash the sliced onion under running cold water to remove a bit of its edge. Then drain.
- Mix all the ingredients together and let them marinate for at least 2 hours to get that softened onion flavour.
- Preheat a non-stick pan to medium-high heat, add a bit of butter and a few bananas at a time. Let them become golden for a couple of minutes on one side and flip. Repeat with the rest of the bananas.
- In the same pan, you can fry your eggs. Don't forget to season them.
- This Tacu Tacu is a real spectacle of a dish. Serve it at the centre of the plate with half a banana on one side, the fried egg on top and some of that salsa criolla too.