“Lomo saltado” (sautéed beef) is one of Peru’s most beloved dishes. This sturdy entrée consists of a beef, tomato, onion, and chili pepper stir-fry accompanied by French fries and white rice, and it is a direct result of the Chinese influence on Peruvian cuisine. This culinary influence goes back to the late 19th century, when Chinese immigrants came to Peru to work the land. They brought with them many of their food staples, including their passion for rice.
Soon after, these hard working and entrepreneurial people quit their tiring farming jobs and started opening grocery stores and restaurants all over Lima, called “Chifas” (which means “eating rice”). To this day, chifas serve Chinese food that has been slightly enhanced with the use of some Peruvian ingredients, and they can be found in virtually every corner of every big city.
Although Chinese food prepared in Peru didn’t change much, Peruvian food did acquire many Chinese techniques and ingredients that helped mold what is eaten all over the country today. For example, rice is the side dish of choice in every Peruvian home, and one couldn’t imagine Peruvian food without this custom. Whenever you walk into a house, the first thing you notice is the smell of garlicky rice cooking on the stove. And most of our staple dishes have rice as the main ingredient, as is the case with “arroz con pollo” (rice with chicken), “arroz con mariscos” (rice with seafood), and “arroz con leche” (rice pudding).
Lomo saltado is yet another example of the marriage of Peru’s and China’s gastronomy. The local tomatoes, chili peppers, and potatoes are mixed with rice, soy sauce, and ginger, and cooked in a wok.
It can be prepared in countless variations, including chicken, fish, all kinds of seafood, vegetarian proteins such as tempeh or tofu, and portobello mushrooms. For this recipe I decided to make the most of this season’s produce, and used broccoli and cauliflower as my main ingredients. I also replaced the potatoes with sweet potatoes, and the white rice with brown rice to make it healthier and more nutritious. The result was extremely satisfying, and something I will be making many times again in the future. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.