From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Peru is an amazing country, and, its equally amazing cuisine, owes as much to immigrant traditions as it does to the ancients whose food is still made in villages clinging to the slopes of the Andean Cloud Forrest. Lomo Saltado is a steak and potato stir-fry that can be found throughout Peru. It's an Asian-inspired dish that's featured in the country's cafes and restaurants, and while it is a worker's favorite, it is also served repeatedly to tourists visiting the country. What makes the dish unusual, at least to the uninitiated, is the fact that it is served with both French fries and white rice. There are as many versions of the dish as there are cooks in the country's kitchens, and the one I'm featuring tonight, adds mine to that already crowded field. All versions of the dish use steak, French fries and peppers, but the peppers used in Peru are difficult to find outside that country. Rather than stress about it, I decided to use pickled jalapenos in their stead and had really good results. I also tried to recreate the first version of the dish I had while in Peru. The boat that was used for the Amazon portion of our trip had a fantastic old-school chef who created wondrous meals in a closet-sized kitchen. His Lomo Saltado had more sauce than versions we would later try, but it was by far and away the best version we had while in-country. That additional sauce made more sense with the rice, though I was never able to find out why both potatoes and rice were used in construction of the dish. Peruvian chefs are very protective of their recipes, so it is very important to watch what is being done in their kitchens. My eagle eyes did, however, pick up a trick from him that I'd like to share with you. He used frozen fries. He felt that last minute deep frying made the dish unnecessarily complicated, so he baked frozen fries while the other elements of the dish came together. He also tossed the French fries with the rest of the dish. Peruvian cooks never use white or yellow onions, and, more often than not, they soak the red onions they do use in several changes of ice water before they are added to the ingredient mix. This is an interesting dish, and, if you have never tasted it, I do hope you will give it a try. If you are familiar with Lomo Saltado, I hope you'll give my version of the recipe a trial run. Here's how it is made.
Lomo Saltado...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound flatiron, sirloin or tenderloin steak, cut crosswise in 4 x 1/4-inch thick slices
1 large red onion halved and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces frozen French Fries (i.e. Ore Ida Extra Crisp Fast Food Fries)
1/4 cup pickled sliced jalapenos
1 large ripe tomato, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro
Salt and pepper
2 cups cooked white rice
1) Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, cumin, coriander, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bow. Add beef and toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes.salt and pepper
2) Place onions in another bowl and cover with ice cold water. Let sit for 30 minutes changing water 2 more times.
3) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a single layer of frozen fries in an 11 x 17-inch baking pan. Set aside.
4) When ready to proceed, place French fries in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crisp. Remove from oven and set aside.
5) Meanwhile, set a large saute pan over high heat. When pan is hot, add beef and marinade to pan. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan.
6) Add reserved 1 tablespoon oil to pan. When it shimmers, add onions and stir fry until wilted but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and jalapenos and cook for 2 minutes longer. Return beef to pan and toss well. Stir in soy sauce and vinegar and cook for 2 minutes longer. Fold in cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over French Fries and rice. Serve piping hot. Yield: 4 servings.
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