Lomo saltado is a beef stir fry dish from Peru, originated in the Barrio Chino (Chinatown) of Lima. It has a very interesting history. During the 1800s, a large number Cantonese immigrants arrived in Peru to work on the railroads. Many of them, having worked as cooks on the ships to pay for their voyage, took up that profession when they landed. At one time, it was considered a prestige in Peru households to have a Chinese cook in the house. Chinese restaurants also started appearing in Lima, signaling the beginnings of Chinatown.
This is the quintessential fusion dish where traditional Chinese cooking methods and Peruvian local ingredients meet. And it is a dish that has moved out of the Chifas (Chinese restaurants) and on to the mainstream menus. In the process, the recipe was adjusted to include ingredients like tomatoes, hot peppers, fried potatoes and cilantro, in addition to the original onions and sliced beef.
The habanero peppers add flavor to the recipe, in addition to heat. Any other hot peppers can be used, if habaneros are not available. If you would like a mild version, the habaneros can be reduced or even omitted entirely.
The beef is cooked quickly like in all stir frys and hence the cut of the beef is important. Any cut that cooks quickly to tenderness will be ideal. Also, slicing the beef across the grain helps the cooking process.
Lomo saltado includes fried potatoes (as in French fries). They can either be mixed into the beef when done, or served on the side. I prefer to serve it on the side. Makes a better visual too!
L is for Lomo Saltado
- Cut the beef into thin strips. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the beef, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, and 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar to a bowl, and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat a pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the pan. When the oil is very hot, add the marinated beef strips to the pan and fry. Continue frying till the liquid has dried up, about 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside in a bowl with any pan juices.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add the onion wedges to the pan and cook till the onions are transparent.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the beef strips, along with any juices, and mix together.
- Add the strips of habanero peppers, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and Pisco (if using). Mix well.
- Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Check for seasoning.
- Add the cilantro leaves and turn off the heat.
- Peel the potato and cut into long pieces of 1/4 inch thickness and rinse under running water.
In a heavy bottomed pan (cast iron is best), heat 4 tbsp of oil on high heat. When the oil is smoking hot, add the potato pieces to the pan and stir to coat.
- Reduce the heat to medium and continue frying till the outsides are browned and the insides are cooked.
- Serve the prepared beef and potatoes side by side, accompanied by cooked rice.