Very occasionally I do this horrible thing where someone speaks perfectly good English with a Spanish accent and I respond back in crappy Spanish, like a reflex. There's no need for that. I was just excited to get a cashier at Food Bazaar who happened to be Peruvian (not what I'd expect in East Williamsburg) and was into my ingredients. I blurted out "Mis amigas no comen carne" when she suggested lomo saltado, I guess because coming up with a non-meaty Peruvian menu sucked ass and the trauma was pent-up. I did make a chicken.
I was asked if could add a dish that didn't involve onions, corn, peppers, potatoes or avocado, and add asparagus somewhere. Um...no? At least I didn't suggest salchipapas or anticuchos. And clearly, I am a control freak who can't just mellow out and have fun cooking with friends. The dinner turned out pretty well, though. Wine smoothes things out.
Papas a la huancaina. Sometimes you've got to embrace the starch. Potatoes were how this whole idea started (Peruvian wasn't even my suggestion) and I can't think of a more classic dish than the simple sliced boiled potatoes with a cheesy aji amarillo sauce. I've had restaurant versions and always thought it was a little bland, but this version was spicy (just lightly--nothing Peruvian is incendiary). Recent James Beard award-winning Gran Cocina Latina had a higher-brow version, and it was tempting, but I just went home-style with evaporated milk and saltines.
Pollo a la brasa had to be oven-roasted, no brasa. There are a million variations on the marinade, and I'd say the most important ingredient is the soy sauce.
The green sauce, a non-traditional (I think) staple at Peruvian-run chains like Pio Pio and Sophie's, may have been the biggest hit. You could eat this on anything. I had habaneros on hand instead of jalapeños. Half a pepper added punch--and a little yellow-ness--but the sauce can handle it because it's mayonnaise-based.
I did turn to Gran Cocina Latina for the ceviche, Marisa Guiulfo's Lima Fish Cebiche (not online anywhere) since there is a whole chapter devoted to variations. The base is simple: lime juice, garlic, red honion aji amarillo and cilantro, and I included scallops and squid in addition to cubes of flounder. It could've done without the squid, which was a little bitter and chewy. And yes, corn in two forms--hominy and toasted kernels--and sweet potatoes (some use white potatoes and yuca too) were present. There's no harm in more starch with your nearly-raw seafood.