Co-owner of Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant Genesis Rojas brings out a Triple Marino dish that consists of arroz con mariscos, ceviche and jalea mixta on Saturday, in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Co-owner of Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant Genesis Rojas brings out a Triple Marino dish that consists of arroz con mariscos, ceviche and jalea mixta on Saturday, in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Take a bite out of Peru at this Lynnwood restaurant

Rinconcito Peruano serves both light and hearty Peruvian dishes, from ceviche to tender beef stew.

LYNNWOOD — At Rinconcito Peruano in Lynnwood, you can order seafood three ways — cured, fried and cooked with rice — all on one plate.

The Triple Marino ($36) showcases three of the Peruvian restaurant’s bestsellers: ceviche, fried seafood (jalea mixta), and Peruvian fried rice (arroz con mariscos). It amounts to at least two meals, maybe an extra large one if you ignore your inner voice pleading, “You’ve had enough. Stop eating and ask for a to-go box.”

For the past four years, mother-and-daughter team Mirian Prado Salguero and Genesis Rojas have been making the dishes of their home country here in Snohomish County. They make sure to fit as much Peruvian flavor onto one plate as they can. The Triple Marino is case in point.

It starts with Rinconcito Peruano’s bestseller, ceviche, a dish invented in — you guessed it — Peru. The Triple Marino features their ceviche mixto, made to order with fresh fish, octopus, calamari and shrimp, tossed in lime and spiced with aji (chili).

People enjoy lunch at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant on Saturday, in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People enjoy lunch at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant on Saturday, in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Prado Salguero’s quick curing process leaves the ceviche beautifully light, clean-tasting and soft. In true Peruvian fashion, it comes with a soft hunk of sweet potato (more than 3,000 varieties of potato are grown in Peru). She also drops in a handful of Cuzco corn, a large-kernel variety grown in the Andes.

The second dish is a fried seafood tower called jalea mixta. I urge you to grab a calamari ring, or octopus slice, or shrimp, or mussel (even the shell is fried). Then take a red onion sliver and spoonful of “leche de tigre”, the translucent mix of citrus, spice and aromatics in the ceviche. Pop it all in your mouth. Trust me: The punch from the marinade and pickled onion mixed with the fried seafood equals crisp-salty-acidic perfection.

Co-owner Genesis Rojas at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant on Saturday, in Lynnwood. She has owner the restaurant with her mother for 4 years. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Co-owner Genesis Rojas at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant on Saturday, in Lynnwood. She has owner the restaurant with her mother for 4 years. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Finally, the Peruvian fried rice has an impressive seafood-to-starch ratio; I found myself surprised at all the saturn-like rings of squid and large shrimps I found nestled in the rice. The arroz con mariscos has an earthy sweetness from the diced carrots and peas, while the rice soaks up the tomato and seafood stock, making the dish pleasantly savory and briny and reminiscent of paella.

Peru’s culinary history is both historical and political, a mix of Indigenous cultures, Spanish colonization, Japanese and Chinese migrations. You’ll find that in the varied dishes, from slices of beef tenderloin served over rice and fries (lomo saltado, $20), to spicy creamy chicken stew topped with black olives and eggs (aji de gallina, $17). The chaufas ($12 to $22), a fried rice dish with veggies, onions, eggs and your choice of protein (or just veggies), is cooked over a high flame. Then there’s the bistec a lo pobre ($23), a hearty plate of steak, potatoes, fried plantain, rice and a fried egg that could cure a hangover. And of course, all the potatoes: deep fried yuca frita, seasoned and meat-stuffed mashed potato terrine (causa rellena, served cold), and papa a la huancaina, a dreamy plate of yellow potatoes slathered in cheese sauce and spicy cream.

Peruvian corn served at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Peruvian corn served at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

There are no food shortcuts at Rinconcito Peruano: Prado Salguero doesn’t use fish powder when making her parihuela ($25), a creamy seafood soup. Instead, she drives down to Seattle every week and buys fish heads to make into a stock.

“It’s very important that we make everything from scratch,” Rojas said. “The labor for Peruvian food is hard. It’s difficult. But it’s her passion.”

They do mostly takeout during the week, but weekends get busy for dining in. I stopped by in early August, a few days after Peru’s Independence Day (the South American country declared independence from Spain 201 years ago).

One of the most popular dishes at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant is their ceviche. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

One of the most popular dishes at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant is their ceviche. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The dining area is small but able to fit about 25 or so people. It’s also a colorful ode to both Peru’s landscape and its cuisine: One blue wall for the ocean, another painted orange for the tomato-hued fried rice. A sign above the national flag reads, “I’m Peruvian and we don’t keep calm.”

The Lynnwood location used to be a sushi restaurant, which was a full-circle moment for Prado Salguero: She’d lived in and worked at restaurants in Japan for a decade.

Prado Salguero is still a hard-working chef: She endures the long hours, stressful supply shortages and growing competition in the area.

Only this time, Prado Salguero owns what she sows. She gets to cook up her own menu, dreaming up weekend specials and bringing the food she grew up eating to Lynnwood.

“She has her own restaurant now. She worked her whole life for this,” Rojas said of her mom. “And I was always working as a waitress. Now, I’m a waitress at my own restaurant. We say that our dreams came true.”

A wall covered in Peruvian photos, flags and other items at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant on Saturday, in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A wall covered in Peruvian photos, flags and other items at Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant on Saturday, in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

If you go

Rinconcito Peruano

18904 Highway 99, Suite A, Lynnwood

425-967-5688

Social media: www.facebook.com/rinconcitoperuanorestaurant

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Monday.

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