Lengua Piedra

Taken from the cookbook Central, Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, shares his Lengua Piedra recipe.

“This dish represents some of the things we found living together along the northern coast, a place of contrasting sweet, sour, and salty flavors. The barquillos, a type of chiton, sort of licks the algae of the rocks and the meat looks almost like a tongue. We serve them on a plate of frozen shells, mimicking the cold sea where they came from.” —Virgilio Martinez

Adapted from Central by Virgilio Martinez, Phaidon. Click here to purchase your own copy of Virgilio Martinez’s new cookbook Central.


  • 100 ml sea water
  • 1 juiced, orange prickly pear
  • 20 g Miel de Palo
  • 3 salty fingers, stems and tips separated
  • 4 barquillos, unshucked

Serves 4


  1. In a pot, combine the sea water, prickly pear juice, and miel de palo. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and add the salty fingers’ stems and barquillos, and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the barquillo meat has absorbed all of the flavors—after 10 minutes— pick the meat out of the shells and clean it (keep the shells for plating). In a bowl, place the shells with water to cover and put them in the freezer; when it is completely frozen use this dish to plate.
  3. Slice the salty fingers’ tips and place them raw just on top of the barquillos’ “tongues.” Place everything on top of frozen shells and serve.