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Today we feature Peru’s most popular dish, lomo saltado, a Peruvian Creole/Chinese fusion stir fry. A dish with a heavy Chinese influence, including cooking implements, spices and sauces. It also contains creole seasonings and ingredients and new world ingredients like beef and French fries.
Yes, you heard that correctly, when served in Peru this dish is served both with rice and fries. Our dish today has a few variations, including the use of quinoa instead of rice and we have baked fries as an option. Not only are there fries in this dish but in Peru they make sure that the rather tasty sauces are all over those fries!
It all sounds a bit bizarre but somehow it works and delivers a dish that leaves you wanting more. Honestly this is as good a stir fry as you will taste.
Last week, when writing about Peruvian Ceviche, I claimed that Peru was ahead of its time and true fusion food was well advanced in Peru before anyone in the West even thought of the term “fusion”. If you want further evidence of that claim, look no further than this dish, surely a dish with more culinary influences than any other. Read on and judge for yourself.
A Short History of Lomo Saltado
Lomo Saltado dates back more than 130 years. There was (and still is) a large Chinese population in Lima and being unable to cook their meals in the traditional Peruvian clay pots, the Peruvian Chinese designed their own cooking implement called the chifa, which suspiciously looks like a wok. Lima enjoyed some 6000 chifa eateries at the time. Think about that for a moment. That is a huge number of eateries in one city.
Lomo Saltado was born in the chifa eateries. It may have started life as beef and vegetables sautéed with soy sauce and served over rice but it slowly developed into something much different in the ensuing century. You can read more about chifas here.
Another very strong factor in the culinary development of Peru was the creole influence. Africans were brought to Lima more than 200 years ago by the Spanish conquistadors. The African-Spanish fusion mixed with Peruvian influences developed over the span of those centuries. And now Peruvian Creole is extremely strong, particularly on the Peruvian coast.
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And as for lomo saltado in the ensuing 130 years? What might have started out as a heavily-influenced Chinese creation has morphed into a true fusion of Chinese and Peruvian Creole. Chinese cooking method and seasonings, Peruvian ingredients as well as Peruvian Creole seasonings and attitudes.
And the fries? Hmmm, what can I say? Potato being so common in Peru, they were always an ingredient in this dish, not cooked as fries, but stir-fried. I suspect that adding fries or chips is a more modern innovation with the maybe not so good spread of fast food to Peru from the West.
Nowadays once the fries are cooked in the oven or the fryer, they are added to the stir fry and tossed with the remaining ingredients to incorporate the sauce into the fries.
We had this dish a number of times in Peru and it was always served with chifa-tossed fries. It’s a great meal and we enjoyed it each time. If you wish to read more about about this dish then go here.
So if you like stir fries then cook this lomo saltado. It has real Peruvian flair that really surprises on the up-side. And the secret of this dish? I think it is the tomatoes. They form a great foundation and add a real depth of flavor, combining well with the other ingredients.
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- 1 cup quinoa or substitute with rice
- 1 lb french fries oven-baked, optional
- 1 lb beef, tenderloin (eye fillet) sliced into 1/4 inch (1 cm) strips
- 1 tsp salt, ground sea
- 1 tsp black pepper, ground
- 2 tsp cumin, ground
- 2 tsp oregano, dried
- 2 tbsp tamari (soy) sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 onions, salad (red) sliced into 1/4 inch (1 cm) strips
- 2 tomatoes sliced into 1/4 inch (1 cm) strips
- 1 green chili, long Asian style sliced into thin strips
- 1 tbsp pisco or brandy, optional
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp parsley chopped
- Cook quinoa to pack instructions and put aside when done, ready for serving.
- If using the baked French fries, pre-heat oven and follow pack instructions. Keep warm until serving time.
- Meanwhile prepare a marinade by adding the beef, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and 1 tbsp of the soy sauce. Stir to combine and allow to marinate for 5 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a wok or frying pan over medium/high heat. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Then add the meat marinade mixture and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the onions and stir fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and green chili and stir fry for a further minute. Add remaining 1 tbsp of soy sauce, pisco, if using, and the vinegar. If using the French fries, Peruvians add the cooked fries to the stir fry mixture at this stage. Feel free to add them now or as a side in the step below. Carefully stir in and then turn off the heat.
- Serve up the quinoa first, add the meat mixture, season with salt and pepper and then add the parsley. If using, add the French fries on the side, if not already added at the stir fry stage. Serve immediately.
Kim @ Land of Zonkt
Wow, just amazing.
And what an amazing dish! delicious flavours… making me hungry. lol
thanks for linking up to Your Weekly Feed. xx
It is a really nice dish. And quick to make with everyday ingredients. Thanks for your comment.
Quinoa AND french fries?? this is my kind of dish. I do not know much about peruvian cuisine so thanks for broadening my horizons!!
Jayne, it is a little bizarre sounding but the fries (and rice rather than quinoa) are both served on the plate in Peru. Thanks for your comment.
Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers
Wow I loved reading about the history of this great looking dish. I haven’t travelled to Peru so it was lovely to get this insight. Thanks for sharing on YWF too.
Vicki Lomo Saltado has such an unusual history (as does Peru). Thanks for your comment.
Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens
What a beautiful post! I traveled to Peru years ago, and it has stayed near and dear to my heart ever since! Such a rich and interesting food culture!
Shelley, thank you so much for those kind words. I do enjoy writing about the food and places we have been fortunate enough to visit. If it makes people jump on a plane to check out Peru or bring back fond memories then I am very happy with that. Thanks for your comment.
Oh boy, yes please… Such an unusual but delicious sounding dish!
Brian, yes it is a little on the bizarre sounding side but it tastes like heaven. Thanks for the comment.
Julia @ bavarianpicure
Sounds delicious! The only thing I tried when I was in Peru for one day was Cuy (Guinea pig) but your lomo saltado is definitely on my list of recipes to try.
Julia, good on you for trying the cuy. Peruvian ceviche is also brilliant in Peru. Thanks for your comment.
Bella B (xoxoBella)
I have never heard of this before but it looks so good!
Easy to make too. We love it. Thanks for your comment.
Loving these colors and potatoes and beef are just an awesome combo! Thanks for sharing!
It is rather colorful isn’t it? Tomato is good at that and goes well in this dish. Thanks for your comment.
Ali @ Home & Plate
I have never heard of Lomo Saltado but am ingrigued. I will have to ask my dad bc he lived in Peru for a while. I love trying new dishes and this one will go on my “try it” list. Thanks.
Ali, I’m sure your dad will know this dish. Give it a try, the tomato gives it lots of character. Thanks for your comment.
Thanks for this cultural experience and the great recipe; I would love to try some of this lomo saltado!
The cultural story behind this dish is rather fascinating isn’t it? Thanks for your comment.
Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
Peruvian Creole/Chinese fusion stir fry served with fries and rice….just WOW! That’s one hell of a meal right there 🙂 it sounds fantastic and I love the way it has evolved over the years. Would love to try this 🙂
Emma, it does sound a little bizarre doesn’t it? But it is easy to make and tastes as good as any stir fry. Thanks for your comment.
April @ Girl Gone Gourmet
So interesting! Loved learning about this dish – sounds delicious 🙂
It’s a little different isn’t it? But it just works. Thanks for your comment.
Love this! It is a bit different than how my family makes it, but it looks delicious! Peru is definetly ahead of their time in fusion cuisine. I love how you included a bit of history as well! Can’t wait to this version.
Amanda, many ways to cook this no doubt. I am very keen on Asian stir fry and was not expecting something so good in Peru. It was a very pleasant surprise. And the fusion applies to many Peruvian dishes. Thanks for your comment.
I love the story behind this dish. One of my roommates in college was from Lima and I learned quite a bit about the culture. It’s a place I have always wanted to visit.
The most surprising fact is that there were 6,000 chifas cooking Chinese style food. Thanks for your comment.
Are the french fries in the stir fry? I’ve never heard of that before. Is that a Peruvian “thing”? Kind of reminds me of a poutine, without the gravy.
The french fries are cooked separately but added right at the end to the stir fry where they are quickly tossed to incorporate the sauce. Yes it is definitely a Peruvian thing. I have made the fries optional! Thanks for your comment.
That’s just something one needs to try! The combination sounds plain weird but I do believe it’s delicious! Thanks for sharing and explaining this dish!
It does sound weird but you find it everywhere in Peru and, yes, it is good. Thanks for comment.
This is the first time I’ve heard of lomo saltado but it sure does sound delicious. And hey, what could be bad about fries and quinoa/rice?…all my favourite foods 🙂
Jenn, you are right about your favorite foods. This combination just works. Thanks for your comment.
I’ve been wanting to be more adventurous in the kitchen and this looks like a great recipe to try! Thanks for sharing. Looks delicious!
Taylor, give it a go and let me know what you think. Thanks for your comment.
Oh my good gracious, yes please!!! Sounds so delicious!
Renee, I love your passion, lol! And it is delicious, so easy to make. Thanks for your comment.