8.26.2017

Where East Meets South

I have mentioned John of He Needs Food several times in my posts. Right now, he is in the midst of a world tour, having incredible adventures, collecting recipes, eating amazing foods, photographing colorful street art, and writing it all up for you on his blog. Definitely join John on his travels by checking out He Needs Food! He is a great resource for travel and food!

While he was in Peru, he shared the recipe for a dish called Lomo Saltado. This dish, considered one for the national dishes of Peru, was actually the product of the Chinese migration to Peru in the late-18th through mid-19th centuries.

The culinary tradition that comes from this meeting of cultures is called Chifa. Chifa is also the word for the type of restaurant that offers this traditional cuisine.

As John points out in his post, Lomo Saltado is basically a Chinese stir-fry with slightly different flavors served with rice … and potatoes. Why not?

The potatoes are a bit of a surprise - you know, why serve starch with your starch? - but potatoes are a big deal in their native Peru and are in just about every dish. I tossed mine with the beef and the sauce, which made them a tad soggy, but they were so flavorful I had no regrets! I looked at many recipes for this dish and saw the potatoes piled on top - à la Steak Frites - that would preserve their crispness and allow satisfying dipping.

Also in this dish is one do the most iconic flavors of Peru - ají amarillo -, a sweet-hot yellow pepper that has no equal. Fresh ají amarillo peppers are hard to find fresh outside of bodegas in larger cities like LA and New York.

For those of us in the “square states in the middle”, we have to order our ají amarillo online, and it comes as a delicious paste in a jar. That works fine for me, and especially well in this recipe.

John’s version of Lomo Saltado also has soy sauce, cumin, and several other spices that season the dish perfectly, and evoke an unexpected intersection of culinary influences.

I really love trying new dishes like this, and am grateful to John for sharing his recipes… and adventures!

~ David

Lomo Saltado
adapted minimally from the recipe by John Bek, He Needs Food

3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 8-ounce boneless sirloin steaks
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large red onion peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons ají amarillo *
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
12 cherry tomatoes
a small handful of French fries **
cilantro leaves for garnish
lime wedges
cooked rice


ají amarillo is a slightly hot yellow pepper grown in Peru. I get a jarred ají amarillo paste online.
** John suggested frozen fries, cooked per the package instructions, and that worked for us. Make sure you cook them nice and crispy, lest they get soggy in the dish.

Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, black pepper, cumin seeds, and paprika into a shallow bowl. Mix to combine - it will be a thick paste; you can add a little more soy sauce if you need. Place the steaks on the marinade, turning a few times to coat, and rubbing it evenly over meat. Set aside as you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat a large wok or sauté pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirl it around then add the marinated steaks. Cook on one side for 2 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for another 1 minute. Remove the steaks, place in a heatproof baking dish, then place in the oven while you finish the dish.

Add the remaining oil to the wok, swirl it around, then toss in the onion, green pepper and shallot. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, then cover and cook until vegetables are cooked to your liking. Uncover, then add the oregano, stirring for a minute or so.

Add the ají amarillo, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, and water. Mix well to coat the vegetables. Add the cherry tomatoes.

Remove steak from the oven and slice in 1/4-inch slices. Add to the pan with the cooked French fries, and give a quick stir. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately with rice, garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Serves 4.


25 comments:

  1. The Asian influences in Peruvian cooking are fascinating. Lima, Peru was (easily) the most exciting culinary city I have ever visited. GREG

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    1. That is interesting to know, Greg. Until reading John's post and then doing some research, I had no idea.

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  2. It has benn 17 years since I visited Peru and I don't remember the food . I do remember a pisco sour drink. There are some great flavors in your dish and I would love to try it. Thanks for the recipe.

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    1. I think we can all remember our first Pisco sour! I want to explore more Peruvian cuisine now!

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  3. David, the spices and flavors in this dish speak to my heart. Beef is something we don't eat but once in a while. Evan likes a big steak, but I'm more of a poultry and seafood gal. I know this wonderful recipe will be a hit though! So, I'm looking for aji amarillo paste online, and I'll definitely check out his blog :0)

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    1. You will love this, Marcelle! And you are making me wonder how it would be with shrimp!

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  4. What a gorgeous meal David, the ají Amarillo peppers sound wonderful. Love learning about new foods and fusion combinations, so much history in every corner. I am now a new follower on John's site looks like I'll being seeing parts of the world I've never seen before thru his eyes. Take care!

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    1. I think you will really enjoy John's blog, Cheri. Right now, he's doing travel posts but you should look back into his archive to see his beautiful food.

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  5. A beautiful dish! I've not visited anywhere in South America, but it is most definitely on my bucket list.

    I'm now on the hunt for ají amarillo peppers or paste. Always fun to learn about different cultures and foods!

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    1. Me, too, Cali - I can't wait to go to South America! For now, I will simply have to enjoy the good!

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  6. Hi David! A delicious looking dish with a fascinating history. The fusion flavours sound wonderful. I now want to try this recipe and the aji amarillo. I too enjoy John's blog.

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    1. Hi Ngeun! I actually think you and I fund each other through John's blog!

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  7. Wonderful. I just recently discovered aji amarillo and it's pretty incredible. Love this dish!

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    1. I stocked up on ají amarillo for fear it won't always be available, Mimi!

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  8. Wow so many flavours and textures in this single dish. The hubby would love this, he bores so quickly of my vegetarian cooking. I am always on the look out for meat dishes for him.

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    1. I wonder if it would be good with tofu, Emma? I can't see why not!

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  9. Wow, David. Just wow. Isn't it a tasty meal? I know I veered off the traditional route, but it still does taste very much like some of the ones I tried in Peru.

    I have to mention, though, your soggy potatoes would have fit right in with the ones in Peru. I ate lomo saltado over half a dozen dimes in Peru, at different places, and every one of them had soggy potatoes. Nothing piled on top and nothing like the way I presented. Some of them were so bland, as well. a few of the cooks over there are challenged in the flavour department, I tell you!

    Thanks so much for the mention!!

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    1. It's a fantastic meal, John! And I loved the potatoes and how they soaked up the flavors... the soggy comment wasn't a complaint!

      Thanks for taking time out of your Greek beach days to weigh in! :) Looks like you have a few new readers!

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  10. This looks absolutely fantastic!
    I'm going to find time to make it for my lovies tonight. xo

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  11. Sounds so flavorful -- I've never used amarillo paste and think I'll order some. This is such a rich, hearty dish -- my family will love it.

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    1. It is so flavorful, and I think John added a bit extra, which was great! A nice gluten free option for you!

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  12. Hi David, I'm a long-time fan of John's work. Amazing photography, wonderful recipes. This, too, looks delicious. Hoping to be able to post this comment. xx

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    1. Hello, Liz - John's work is truly inspiration, as is yours! I learn so much from all my friends in the blogosphere.

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  13. Sounds delicious David! And your measuring spoon is too cute!

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