Almeurzo. That mid-afternoon meal where friends and family gather to take time to enjoy one another’s company. It’s not just lunch in Peru. It’s THE meal of the day. Everything comes to a halt for food, and then it’s naptime before heading back to work. Peru celebrates the afternoon like the Europeans celebrates the evening. The magic of a meal, however, is timeless.
If you’re a chef, aspiring to be one, or just like to eat, a Peruvian lunch is a fantastic place to be. Meals are often elaborate, always well seasoned, and hearty. Cebiche (ceviche) is the starting dish of choice for Peruvian lunches. A firm white fish is tossed in a peppery, garlicky lime juice to break down the proteins in the flesh and preserve its freshness at the same time. Served with lettuce, corn, avocado and other salad vegetable on the side. A simple cebiche can transport even the furthest afield traveler to a kitchen table in Lima with one bite.
Moving inland Peru’s proverbial pantry is close to the earth. The rich soil has allowed it to cultivate hundreds of varieties of potatoes, quinoa, yucca, corn, and several kinds of root vegetables. Through years of cultural cross-pollination, Peru’s cuisine has become one of the most dynamic melting pots in the world. With Asian, European, and Incan influence, a home-cooked meal often spans oceans of influence mixed with Peru’s native peppers for flavor and heat. Lomo saltado is the perfect example of a Chinese influence intertwining with Peru’s natural flavors. Ginger and soy mixes with Peru’s Aji peppers to create a truly unique blend with just the right amount of bite. Often served with some form of potato, yucca frites also make for a complementary starchy experience. The yucca plant is native to dry, hot regions in the Americas and naturally made its way onto Peruvian plates. We definitely recommend substituting the lighter experience of yucca in with your lomo saltado.
To cap off a lunch you won’t soon forget, we suggest washing it all down with a twist on Peru’s classic cocktail, the Pisco Sour. With the holidays around the corner, a cranberry twist lends itself well to complement the Peruvian brandy. Even if whiskey or bourbon isn’t your go to liquor, Pisco’s subtle warmth almost makes it feel like a rum cocktail.
This is your little slice of Peru! Now the real question is: when are you booking your Peruvian getaway with Acanela to get the full foodie experience?
INGREDIENTS FOR LOMO SALTADO
• Salt and pepper to taste
• ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
• 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons cumin
• 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
• 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (2 for the marinade, 1 for stir-frying)
• 1 lb. sirloin steak, sliced ¼ inch thick
• 1 large onion, sliced into thick strips
• 2 plump tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced into strips
• 1 yellow chili pepper, seeded and thinly-sliced (for best results use a Peruvian ají amarillo if available)
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro
• 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
• ½ teaspoon paprika
1. To create the marinade, first mince the garlic well and whisk it together with the salt, pepper, white vinegar, soy sauce, cumin and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
2. Place the strips of sirloin in one bowl and the onions in another. Divide the marinade between the two bowls and let them set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
3. Pour the remaining vegetable oil in a wok and heat it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the steak with the marinade and cook until it has browned.
4. Next, add the tomato slices and allow them to simmer for a few minutes.
5. Add the yellow chili pepper, cilantro and onions with marinade to the wok. Stir slowly until well-mixed and allow for all the ingredients to simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
6. As the other ingredients are cooking in the wok, sprinkle the potato slices with paprika and fry them in a separate pan. Alternatively, you can buy frozen French fries and cook them according to the instructions on the packaging.
7. Serve the stir-fried steak and onion mixture over the potato slices with an optional side of white rice.
Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Article Written By: Gillian Salerno-Rebic