Peruvian cuisine boasts an attractive menu made up of dishes that were created through a mixture of elements —combining Peruvian ingredients with techniques from other cultures of the world— whose origin took shape after the Spanish conquest. Lomo saltado is one of these dishes. And, of course, it has an incomparable flavor which has conquered even the most refined palates.
For Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, it represents the fusion of three cultures: Inca, Asian, and European. “It involves the Asian technique of the wok and stir frying, creating what we now know as lomo saltado, accompanied by potatoes on a separate plate, in the 40s. Five decades later, potatoes were added to create a single dish”, he explains.
According to data collected, it was created at the end of the 19th century and was called "lomito de vaca" or "lomito a la chorrillana". In order to prepare it, it was necessary to have a Cantonese cook in the kitchen —at the time of Chinese immigration, Asians had found work mostly in restaurants, as their stir-fried meals had become a delicacy of the time.
Beef, the star ingredient whose texture and perfect cooking are essential in the preparation of the dish, was a very expensive ingredient at that time. For this reason, culinary researcher Gloria Hinostroza recognizes lomo saltado as one of the few beef-based dishes that were created in Peru.
“Inca Garcilaso tells us about the history of beef and says that the first cows must have arrived shortly after the conquest, and it took a long time to sell them. The first cows arrived in Peru in 1538 and beef was very expensive when it was first sold, but the price gradually went down. That’s why there aren’t many Peruvian dishes made with beef", she explains.
According to the Dictionary of Traditional Peruvian Gastronomy, lomo saltado was initially made with beef (cut into strips and fried in butter) and fried potatoes —particularly the yellow potato, native to Peru. The Asian contribution —the stir-fried vegetables in the dish— were added later.
“This is one of the first versions of the dish, just as it was prepared in the 1920s. However, this is only one version of “lomito a la vaca”, a dish which already appeared in Peruvian recipe books towards the end of the 19th century", points out expert Sergio Zapata Acha.
How do you prepare it at home?
To successfully reproduce this dish, you will need the following ingredients: 5.3 oz beef, white onion, bell pepper, soy sauce, snow peas, oyster sauce, oil, sesame, and yellow potato.
It is important to remember that for the lomo saltado to be delicious, you will need a good wok and a lot of heat. For this, you should first put a dash of oil in a wok over high heat, wait for it to reach the necessary temperature, and then add the pieces of beef cut into strips.
After this, add a handful of white onion (sliced) to the beef, move the wok a little, and then add a handful of bell pepper and cilantro (also cut into strips). Stir the mixture. Next, drizzle a little soy and oyster sauce over the mixture. To give the dish an extra touch of flavor, you can add a dash of pisco after the oyster sauce.
Finally, slice the potatoes and fry them in a separate pan. Ideally, you should prepare them at the end so that they don't go cold before serving. Once plated alongside a portion of rice, sprinkle sesame over the stir-fry.
Sources: Correo/ El Comercio/ Wapa.pe