In the kitchen with...Ben Wan from COYA Dubai
A decade ago, the zingy flavors and colorful ingredients of Peruvian cooking swept through food scenes across the world, with chefs proudly exporting Peru’s national dishes to London, Los Angeles, Dubai, Hong Kong and beyond. Today, most major cities in the world play host to at least one incredible Peruvian restaurant that serves simple ceviches, flame-cooked meats, hearty stews and delicate tacos – all washed down with punchy pisco sours.
Peruvian food has been influenced by every continent over the last few hundred years, with a consistent flow of immigrants bringing their own ingredients and techniques, and mixing them with the produce from Peru’s incredible mountains and coastal landscapes to create one of the original fusion cuisines.
In Dubai, COYA is the best place to sample Latin American flair. Set within the Four Seasons Resort, this buzzing dining spot brings the spirit of the Incas to the Middle East with its thoughtful interior design – think Peruvian masks, painted murals, antique furniture and a shimmering gold and teal blue color scheme.
But it’s the menu that really transports you to Lima. Executive chef Ben Wan and his team have conducted countless research trips to Peru since they opened in 2014, and they always return with a logbook full of traditional recipes and new-found regional cooking techniques.
When you visit the restaurant, you’ll see the team at work in the three open kitchens that dot the dining room, and every meal should begin with the guacamole made tableside for a touch of Dubai-style theatrics. From there, order a selection of dishes for the table and don’t miss the signature ceviche selection, the veal heart skewers, the lobster with chimichurri sauce and the oxtail empanadas. Oh, and always order two portions of the incredibly delicious potato churros, which are covered in manchego cheese and truffle. One plate is never enough.
MASTER YOUR OWN CEVICHE
If all this has made you hungry, we have asked Ben Wan to share his fool-proof ceviche recipe. This signature dish from COYA Dubai’s menu is a brilliant sharing plate to kick-start any dinner party at home (simply increase the ingredients according to numbers), and it’s best served with a well-mixed pisco sour or two.
It's a simple dish to master and it’s all about finding the perfect balance between the zingy citrus, punchy chili and subtle flavors of the tuna to create a fresh, rounded dish. This recipe is reliant on finding the best quality tuna possible and paying close attention to the seasoning – Ben recommends adding small amounts of salt at a time and tasting as you go. Most of the ingredients are widely available and any more niche items (like kombu) can be found at most Asian grocery stores or online.
- 40g kombu
- 2L water
- 100g white ponzu
- 30g chili garlic paste
- 5g chili oil
- 2g sesame oil
- Lime juice to taste
- Sea salt flakes
- 30g small bunch of sliced spring onions
- A handful of chopped chives
- Sesame seeds
- 100g high quality Yellowfin tuna
- Make the kombu water 24hrs in advance by soaking the kombu in the water and leaving it covered and at room temperature.
- 30 minutes before serving, dice the tuna into small bite-size chunks and add to a mixing bowl. Season with salt and lime juice to taste.
- Continue to mix for a minute or two to semi-cure the tuna.
- Add a pinch of chives, sesame seeds and half the spring onions and mix further.
- To make the dressing, mix the first five ingredients. Once combined, pour this over the tuna.
- Serve in a bowl over ice, garnished on top with a pinch of spring onions, chives and sesame seeds.
To sample the real deal at COYA Dubai, we recommend making reservations at least 48 hours in advance – this remains one of the most popular dining spots in town, especially from Thursday to Saturday.
Restaurant Village, Four Seasons Resort, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 2