On a Friday morning, or actually any morning, I hear the delightful anticipation as Limenos get ready for “chicharron “day. Chicharron translates to pork skin or crackling. In Peru, a “pan chicharron” is a sandwich, but with more than just crackling, as it actually is a “pork roast sandwich”. The sandwich is a fresh white bun with slices of pork roast including the crackling, deep fried sweet potato slices, and “sarza criolla” and spicy mayonnaise. “Sarza criolla” is “salsa criolla” or “creole sauce” which in Peru is thinly sliced red onion dressed in lime juice. So not a sauce at all! But it is a “dressing” for the sandwich. The spicy mayonnaise is made from a thin mayonnaise (more like a salad dressing in consistency than a spreadable mayonnaise) mixed with a Peruvian chili sauce (or pureed chilis).
“Chicharron” is also used to refer to anything that is batter fried. In the U.S., dishes are often called “chicken fried” when referring to batter fried as in “chicken fried steak” In Peru, “chicharron de pescado” or “fish pork cracklin” is batter fried fish. Anything can be a “chicharron” but when not pork, it’s usually used about fish. The trend at many restaurants is to top off a ceviche or leche de tigre with a few pieces of “fish crackling.” Or one can simply order the “fish crackling” on their own (as in the photo from La Leche, where they serve the fish crackling with fried yucca, making it “fish ‘n chips”).