The idea for this dish is pretty straight forward. Perico means ‘Parrot,’ which the dish is supposedly named for it’s many colors. The most basic recipe for perico involves eggs, onions, and tomatoes, with salt and pepper.
Many people like to substitute green onions for some or all of the onions, as I have done below. It’s also common to add bell or hot chili peppers. I have also chosen this option. If the name really does derive from the colorfulness of the dish, than yellow bell peppers will only add to it’s appeal.
Along with the standard salt and pepper, I have added annatto. You can take it or leave it, but it is certainly a South American Jungle ingredient. It brings some tang, nuttiness, and broad mild pepper flavor to a dish. (Black pepper, not chili pepper. Annatto has absolutely no spice, despite it’s bright red color.)
This recipe is ovo-vegetarian, but it’s certainly easy enough, and within custom, to add some fried sausage for all of you carnivores.
The last, and most traditional, piece would be to stuff these beautiful scrambled eggs into an arepa. If you aren’t familiar, these are basically corn pancakes which are either thin and eaten with butter, or made thick and sliced to stuff like a sandwich. They are the national dish of Colombia, and 70% of Venezuelans eat arepas on a daily basis. Arepas can be made with a type of corn meal that has been precooked for fast preparation. It’s rather cheap and easy to find in the Latin American section of any well stocked grocery.
As for a side note, I find it really interesting how different cultures can share some common ingredients but go about using them in unique ways. For instance, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers form the basis for sofrito, and is the starting point for a huge number of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Latin American dishes. (Here’s a recipe for Puerto Rican Monfongo with sofrito.) While onions and tomatoes, with garlic and cumin, are the basis for Hogao which is served with a fried egg atop mashed plantains. Then, across the sea, shakshouka is made with eggs poached in chopped tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers, with cumin, garlic, and paprika. What an amazing world of cuisines we live in!
Arepas Con Huevos Perico
By: Semiserious Chefs
- 3 roma or vine tomatoes, minced
- 1 cup diced yellow and orange bell pepper
- 1 bunch of green onions; chopped
- 2 T annatto (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 9 eggs
- 2 T butter or oil for frying
- masarepa flour and water
- Make your arepas 1/2 to 1 inch thick, according the package intructions. It usually takes 1 part masarepa to 1.5 parts water, plus some salt. Fry them and set them aside for stuffing.
- Add the butter or oil to a large skillet and saute the bell peppers for about 2 minutes, then add the green onions, tomatoes, eggs, salt, pepper, and annatto.
- Scramble this whole combination by allowing it to cook for a moment, then stir the mixture with a spatula. Repeat this until the eggs have fully cooked.
- Slice each arepa 3/4 of the way though and fill generously with the huevos perico.