This Tacu Tacu recipe is a hearty, flavorful and frugal dish that features leftover Peruvian beans (or similar) and leftover rice. Ají amarillo paste, onion, and garlic flavor crispy-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside patties. Topped with an eggs, sliced avocado, and served with salsa criolla, it's great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - What is Tacu Tacu?
I recently published a recipe for Peruvian beans and rice. I made a large batch of Mayocoba beans knowing I wanted to start working on a recipe for tacu tacu. So what is this dish?
Tacu Tacu is a humble dish that originated with the Africans that were brought as slaves during the Colonial period. It is a hearty and substantial dish made of leftover beans and rice mashed with garlic, onion, spices, and ají amarillo (paste or minced). The bean mixture is then fried until crispy and golden on the outside, and tender and soft on the inside.
Some people feel the name tacu tacu is a form of the word takuy from the indigenous Andean language, Quechua, which means “to mix two things together”. But the original recipe bearing this name is completely different than the present-day tacu tacu, created by creative African slaves. My next trip to Peru (June 2022) may provide the elusive answer!
Versions of this casual dish are found throughout Peru. You will find recipes vary regionally, and my own recipe is based on notes taken from tiny eateries during our Peruvian adventures. You may find it topped with an egg, a steak, plantains, or even lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir fry)! You will almost always find it served with salsa criolla.
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- cooked Peruvian beans - Also known as Mayocoba or canary beans, these creamy beans are perfect for these unique, Peruvian-inspired vegetarian patties. This recipe uses a combination of whole and mashed beans. When I make a large batch of Peruvian beans for this Peruvian beans and rice, I have leftover beans (and rice) for making tacu tacu! I have not included instruction for cooking the beans, but you can head to my beans recipe. If you're interested in starting from dried beans, find Peruvian beans on Amazon or at your local grocery in the Latin foods section. You can also find canned Peruvian beans at many markets and online. You will find that tacu tacu is made with other beans and legumes as well.
- ají amarillo paste - There is really is no great substitute for ají amarillo paste. In fact, many Peruvians will use finely minced ají amarillo peppers. Unfortunately, they're almost impossible to find in the US. You can substitute your preferred hot sauce, but the flavor will be different. I do not find ají amarillo to be very hot, but I have found different brands vary quite a bit. I would suggest tasting it before adding the suggested amount.
- rice - This is an awesome way to use leftover rice. However, the tacu tacu will be fine with fresh rice too. You might want to try substituting quinoa or brown rice.
- red onion
- ground cumin
- minced garlic
- oil - I like coconut oil, but you can use your preferred oil.
- vegetable or chicken broth - Use vegetable broth if keeping it plant-based.
- garnishes - We love eggs on top, but they're optional. Avocado is important IMHO, and salsa criolla is traditional. A little fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and crumbled cheese are a fun addition. Make it your own!
See recipe card for quantities. 😀
- Prep your ingredients - If you're making salsa criolla, now is the time! Three-fourths of your cooked beans will be mashed, while one-fourth will be left whole. You will chop an onion and mince the garlic. If you're using cooked rice you're good to go, otherwise, get the rice cooked.
- Sauté the aromatics - Over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil, add the onion, ground cumin, minced garlic, and ají amarillo paste.
- Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the rice and both mashed and whole beans.
- Cook the rice and beans mixture an additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the pan, and allow to cool until you can safely handle it. Add broth or stock as needed to loosen up the mixture to thick enough to shape, but not stiff.
- Cook the patties - Form and cook the rice and bean patties - Divide the mixture into portions (I do 4 patties). Form into an oval or round shape. Add a bit more oil to the pan over medium-high heat. Place patties on the heat (do not crowd). Fry until golden and crisp; turn to cook the other side. NOTE: I'm cooking for 2. I use half the mixture for 2 patties for one meal, and refrigerate the remaining mixture for breakfast later.
- Serve - Peruvians do tacu tacu with all sorts of sides. Salsa criolla is standard, and avocado and eggs are common. Lime wedges, fresh cheese, and cilantro are favorites at Andersen casa.
Make only the patties you will consume at the time, and save the remaining mixture for a future meal. Frying it up crisp the next day, rather than reheating one you've already cooked is so much better!
Use broth or stock to loosen the beans and rice mixture to the consistency of a meatloaf mixture. It should not be stiff or dry, but you need to be able to form it into patties.
A non-stick sauté pan will make turning the tacu tacu patties easier.
Store leftover beans and rice mixture in a zip bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Form the patties and cook them fresh within that period. I have not tried freezing the mixture, but feel confident it would do fine.
YES! Use vegan broth to adjust the beans and rice mixture. Pair with avocado and salsa criolla (skip the egg). It's a well-balanced vegan meal.
In Peru, you will find them topped with everything from lomo saltado (beef stir fry) to fresh seafood. Be creative!
📓 Substitutions and Variations
- Vegan - Use vegan broth in the beans and rice mixture, and omit the egg.
- Meat eater - Top with a steak or other animal protein (this is common in Peru).
- Spicy - Add additional ají amarillo paste.
🧂 Useful Stuff
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We love this easy weeknight meal made with leftover beans and rice. It's so flavorful, frugal, gluten free, and vegetarian. I hope you'll give it a try!
Tacu Tacu Recipe
- 1 cup whole cooked Mayocoba beans or similar
- 2 cups mashed cooked Mayocoba beans or similar
- 1 ½ cups cooked rice quinoa or brown rice
- 1 small red onion chopped
- 2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste adjust to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- ½ cup broth or stock to loosen beans and rice if necessary
- ½ teaspoon salt if beans and rice are salted, you may want to omit
- several grinds pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Prep your ingredients - Mash 2 cups of beans (1 cup remains whole). Rice should be cooked. Chop onion and mince garlic.
- Sauté the aromatics - Over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil, add the onion, ground cumin, minced garlic, and ají amarillo paste. Cook 2-3 minutes
- Cook the rice and beans - Add the rice and both mashed and whole beans. Add some broth/stock to loosen if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the patties - Form mixture into 4 oval or round patties. Add a bit more oil to a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place patties on the heat (do not crowd). Fry until golden and crisp; turn to cook the other side.
- Serve - Top tacu tacu patties with chosen toppings and garnishes. We love eggs, so now is the time to cook the eggs. Enjoy!
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.