By Gabriel Escalante-Gafau  

Born and raised in Peru, chef Gabriel Escalante-Gafau draws on his humble origins for inspiration in the kitchen. Arriving in Australia nearly a decade ago via the US, the Brisbane-based chef brings the street to the table by refining typical street food dishes of his childhood. Simplicity is key for Gabriel, and great food revolves around great memories.

Heart is a very lean muscle and I marinate it in a Peruvian chilli sauce called Panaca. This chilli is not about the heat – it’s one of the pillars of Peruvian cuisine. It adds so much depth, it’s really earthy and has loads of licorice, berries and dried fruit notes. This is street food in Peru, you’ll find it on every corner.

When the Spanish came to Peru they brought African slaves with them, and they would get the offal. Being creative, the slaves did this. It comes from the black community in Peru, and being street food, these days everyone from the richest to the poorest person in Peru would eat this.

Prep time: 20 mins (plus 12 hour marinade)
Cook time: 8 mins


  • 2 beef hearts
  • 2 potatoes (optional)
  • Chili sauce or herbed mayonnaise (optional)

Marinade Ingredients

  • 250ml panca chilli paste*
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dry oregano
  • 250ml white wine vinegar
  • 125ml EVOO
  • 125ml soy sauce


Step 1

Remove the membrane surrounding the hearts and discard. Also remove any major veins or arteries and fatty bits (often the butcher will do this for you). Open the heart out and slice it into 2cm cubes.

Step 2

Take the marinade ingredients and mix until combined in a medium sized bowl. Add the cubes of heart and coat in marinade. Cover the bowl in cling wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Step 3

Preheat barbecue to a high heat – ideally a charcoal barbecue. While the grill heats up, thread three cubes onto each skewer. Grill the skewers for two minutes on each side, ideally on the direct flame.

Step 4

Optional: Add a quarter of a boiled potato to the top of each skewer. Serve with a chili sauce or herbed mayonnaise.

Tip: Panca chilli is a staple of Peruvian cuisine, easily found in South American stores. Skewers can be eaten rare – which Gabriel recommends.

Beef heart Anticuchos