I have been sick for the past 2 weeks and my kids have been taking turns getting sick also. For some reason I have not been able to shake this virus or whatever it is I have – maybe I’m not getting better fast because of my age!! Oh well, anyway, I have been craving this Peruvian dish called “Lomo Saltado” – it’s basically a Peruvian stir-fry you eat with homemade fries and rice. I first had lomo saltado while we vacationed in Peru for a month last summer. It was love at first sight! Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the food I tasted in Peru (from different Peruvian fruits and vegetables, fresh ceviche, pisco sour, grilled guinea pig and other meats, Chifa, etc.), but lomo saltado was one dish I kept on craving in Peru. I don’t know what it is, maybe I fell in love with the tender beef sauteed with onions, peppers and tomatoes, or maybe it was the homemade fries made with Peruvian potatoes. Don’t get me started with Peruvian potatoes! They taste phenomenal! I believe Peru has about 4000 varieties of potatoes, and their corn too (with over 55 varieties of corn), oh my gosh, so good!
Peruvian cuisine is largely influenced by the Chinese, who immigrated to Peru in the mid-1800’s (in fact, they were actually brought over as laborers). This Chinese-Peruvian cuisine is called “Chifa” and you see many Chifa restaurants all over Lima and its surrounding districts. It’s almost like the Chinese-American takeout places here in America, but you can find Chifa in all price categories. We’ve eaten at a hole in the wall Chifa where we got a huge order of lunch special of fried rice and stir-fried vegetable for $2.00 to very nice sit down Chifa restaurants.
Lomo Saltado isn’t exactly Chifa, however, it does use soy sauce. Another main ingredient is typical Peruvian pepper called “Aji Amarillo“. As the name indicates, it has a yellowish color and it’s used in Peruvian cooking. I have not found fresh aji amarillo here in Philadelphia, but I heard that you can get some in and around Miami area. What you can find in larger Latin American markets are the marinated aji amarillo and the paste kind. I love using aji amarillo paste especially in my empanadas! You can find quite a few lomo saltado recipes, but only a few have either fresh aji amarillo or paste in the ingredient list. I’m very lucky, because my lomo saltado recipe came from a book given to me by my sister-in-law in Peru (yes, she’s Peruvian). It is a humongous and expensive book, perfect as a coffee table book, but I refuse to just let this book sit pretty on my coffee table!
Here’s my favorite aji amarillo paste:
Since I have been waiting to make this dish, I did splurge and bought a really good piece of sirloin meat. I will not disclose how much I paid, but I wasn’t about to skimp on my favorite dish!
So, seriously, at this point in my sickness with a major lomo saltado craving, and no decent Peruvian restaurants in sight what was my choice? I could have just ignored my craving or just make it myself… well, I chose the latter 🙂 I had to alter the recipe a bit because there was no way I was able to get fresh aji amarillo, so I added the paste and bell peppers instead. Homemade fries would have been great, but you know, I wasn’t up to spending more time cooking so I used organic frozen fries (which was pretty darn good).
1-1/2 to 2lbs best beef tenderloin (or any cut you prefer), sliced
2 medium onions,sliced
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, each sliced into 8 wedges
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 Tablespoons red vinegar
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
3-4 Tablespoons Aji Amarillo paste
Salt and pepper, to taste
4-5 Tablespoons beef broth or water
Over a high flame, heat the oil in a frying pan (or a wok) until it begins to smoke; add the meat and saute well for 3 minutes or done. Set aside.
In the same frying pan saute the onion, bell peppers and tomatoes. Pour the vinegar, soy sauce and aji paste; add salt and pepper to taste. Add the cilantro and beef broth or water. Mix together to blend the flavors.
To serve: scoop rice at the one corner of a plate, spread fries and pour the beef mixture with sauce over fries. Here’s a little rice mold I bought in Lima, Peru.
My opinion: I know it’s going to sound cocky saying this about my own cooking, but this was DELICIOUS!! My family loved it too! Love to eat the crispy fries soaked with the beef sauce and mixing together with rice (well, at least that’s the way I like to eat this). Truly delicious:)