Lomo Saltado: Soy Stir-Fried Beef with Rice
By Dara O’Brien
Creative Director, Lake Isle Press
After reading Jose Garces’s introduction to his recipe for the Peruvian dish Lomo Saltado I immediately wanted to make it. By that I mean I wanted to eat it. So I had to make it.
I found the recipe in Jose’s book, “The Latin Road Home” published by Lake Isle Press, in which he explores the five Latin food traditions that have influenced him as a chef. In his section on Peruvian food you’ll find his recipe for Lomo Saltado, which he calls one of his family’s favorite “meat and potatoes” dinners. He vividly recalls the sound of the potatoes hitting the oil and the fantastic aroma of onion, peppers, and meat as they cooked in the skillet.
That got my attention because meat and potatoes was a whole other thing to my family when I was growing up. Each was an entity unto itself; no mingling, no seasoning, no added ingredients. I’m not sure my mother, who was our family cook, ever used a glaze or a sauce (other than a distinctly mild marinara) in her life. And a marinade, rub, or brine? Nah.
The dinners my mother made were very simple and mostly compartmentalized, with nary a spice to be had. Pot roast was braised on the stove top; chicken, turkey, and roast beef were roasted in the oven; and London broil was broiled. She threw a little curve and added a spice-free pork chop casserole to her regular rotation somewhere in my teen years. Add in fried fish on Fridays and Swanson Chicken Pot Pies you’ve got the lion’s share of our family dinners.
So here was this beef stir-fry that I would never call meat and potatoes. Not that I have anything against meals that fit the category — I still long for my mother’s roast beef dinner and would happily order prime rib with a baked potato if I ever find myself in a restaurant that serves it (I haven’t encountered prime rib on a menu in years). But this dish, and this recipe for it, has a lot more going on.
Lomo Saltado is one of Peru’s most popular national dishes, and got its start in Lima’s Chinatown. Jose’s recipe offers a chef’s take on this tasty fusion of Eastern and South American Cuisine. It incorporates french fries, which some recipes serve on the side, and some, like Jose’s, incorporate into the dish itself.
Jose’s Lomo Saltado calls for beef tenderloin, which I replaced with a more economical sirloin tip. Otherwise I stuck to his recipe, but I could see right away there were some flaws in my technique. The glaze was great, but my stir-fry prowess was a little lacking. I had plenty of glaze left over, so I decided to try the stir-fry again.
In my second attempt I sliced the meat against the grain. I cut the potatoes a little bigger and didn’t pre-boil them as long as I did the first time, and I let the oil get hotter before I fried them. I cooked the peppers and onions for less time the second time around as well.
I was so glad I tried again. The lovely glaze had indeed covered a multitude of sins in my first go-round. The flavors of each ingredient were fuller and more distinct the second time around- beautifully balanced and flavorful, with a stealth touch of heat.
Quite simply, Lomo Saltado is much too full of flavors to fit my old idea of meat and potatoes. I hereby expand my definition.
Lomo Saltado con Arroz
Soy Stir-Fried Beef with Rice
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger
3 Tbsp thinly sliced garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp dry sherry
1/4 cup xiao xing wine
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp light sesame oil
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 lb beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch sticks, boiled 5 to 7 minutes in lightly salted water, and drained
2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1 large red onion, cut into thin strips
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Serve with white rice
TO MAKE THE SOY GLAZE, heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook the ginger and garlic until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook to lightly toast, stirring often, 15 to 20 seconds. Add the dry sherry and xiao xing, bring to a simmer, and reduce by about half, about 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set it aside to steep for 30 minutes.
Strain the glaze through a fIne-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Whisk in the honey and sesame oil. Store the soy glaze in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed, up to 3 weeks.
TO COOK THE BEEF, heat 1/2 cup of the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and quickly sear the beef strips until they are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the beef from the pan and set it aside.
Add the potatoes to the pan and fry until crispy on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes, turning once or twice. Remove the potatoes from the pan and set aside.
Pour off the frying oil without discarding the flavorful brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Set the pan over high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Sauté the bell pepper and onion, stirring often, just until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the soy glaze and return the beef and potatoes to the pan to warm through and coat with the glaze, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cilantro and stir to incorporate.
SERVE IMMEDIATELY with rice.
From “The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces,” Lake Isle Press, 2012
Originally published at https://www.lakeislepress.com on October 1, 2020.