But, what exactly is lomo saltado, and how is it made?
Lomo saltado translates to “stir-fried beef” and was created by Chinese cooks in Peru during the first half of the twentieth century. Made with marinated strips of beer combined with vegetables and served with French fries or rice, lomo saltado is widespread throughout most of Latin America.
Since lomo saltado originated in Latin American, you may not be familiar with this particular style of stir-frying and serving beef.
So, let’s get started discussing everything to need to know about the history of this delicious dish and how to make it.
The History Behind This Dish
Chinese restaurateurs first introduced the dish lomo saltado and the concept of stir-frying beef to Latin America sometime in the 1920s in Lima, Peru.
In the late 1800s, mostly Cantonese workers from China’s southern mainland provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong began immigrating to Peru.
They came to Peru to work on its coastal plantations and railroads after Peru abolished slavery in 1854.
In 1876 the Peruvian census registered nearly 50,000 Chinese laborers out of a total population of nearly 2.7 million people.
Chinese restaurants began appearing in Lima’s Barrio Chino (Chinatown) in the 1920s after the offices of Chinese import companies opened up in the city.
During that same time frame, Chinese cooks began developing a hybrid or fusion-style of cooking combining Peruvian flavors and traditions with those of their native China.
That culinary tradition is known as chifa and quickly spread to neighboring countries like Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador.
Eventually, the chifa tradition of cooking spread to most of Latin America to include the island of Puerto Rico.
Lomo saltado was perhaps the most popular chifa dish and became one of the most popular dishes in Peru. Additionally, like other food created in the chifa tradition, lomo saltado quickly gained popularity throughout Latin America, becoming a popular staple.
How to Make Lomo Saltado
We are convinced that once you make this dish, it will become a family favorite.
To make four servings, you will need to use the following ingredient list and instructions.
- 1 bag frozen French fries, 16 ounces (453.6 grams)
- 1 pound (453.6 grams) sirloin steak
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided into two portions
- 1 medium red or yellow onion
- 2 Roma or plum tomatoes
- 1 (2-inch) section of ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon aji Amarillo paste (yellow hot peppers)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Parsley or cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
- White rice, for serving (optional)
How You Make It
- Add French fries to a sheet pan and bake according to the directions on the back of the package.
- While the French fries are baking, slice the beef into thin slices. Then, place the beef into a medium-sized bowl and add the sliced garlic and one tablespoon of the soy sauce and set aside to marinate. Slice the onion into thick wedges and slice each tomato into eight wedges and remove the pulp and seeds.
- Using a small bowl, whisk the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, the vinegar, and aji Amarillo paste together and set aside.
- Remove the French fries from the oven and set aside.
- Preheat a wok or non-stick skillet on your stove using medium heat. Next, add the oil, and once it shimmers, add the beef and cook for about two minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Once the beef is browned on all sides, remove it from the wok and set it aside.
- Add the onions to your wok and stir fry for about four or five minutes until soft. Then, add the grated ginger and stir fry for another minute or two.
- Return the beef to the wok along with the tomatoes and stir-fry for two to three minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down, stirring frequently.
- Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and aji Amarillo paste mixture to the wok and stir until combined. Next, add the French fries, stir and stir-fry for a minute or two to reheat them.
- Serve on a plate with a formed cup of rice on the side and sprinkle everything with some of the chopped parsley or cilantro.
- We recommend using a traditional wok to flash-cook everything to seal in the flavor and preserve the color of the vegetables. If you don’t already have one, Craft Wok has a round-bottomed 14-inch (35.6 cm) Traditional Hand-Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok that is ideal for preparing this dish.
- We would strongly encourage you to make French fries from scratch using real potatoes instead of a frozen bag. And, to make things easier on yourself, you might consider purchasing a Sopito Professional Stainless Steel Cutter, and leaving the peeling on the potatoes.
- For extra crispy fries, you might consider getting a Fox Run French Fry Pan. It is made with high-quality carbon steel with a non-stick coating. Best of all, it’s perforated surface allows proper airflow beneath your food for evenly cooked baked goods that don’t require any turning.
- Feel free to substitute your favorite cut of beef for the sirloin. Filet mignon and flank steak work well with this recipe. You can also use chicken, pork, shrimp, or other seafood in place of the beef.
- Thinly slicing meats is easier if you place it in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting it. Additionally, a good knife like the Victorinox Fibrox Pro Curved Breaking Knife is essential. Crafted with high-carbon stainless steel, the Fibrox Pro knife is conical ground and ice-tempered to ensure long-lasting sharpness. Additionally, its wider blade and added with make uniform slicing easier, something you want when making any stir-fry.
- You can purchase a jar of Peru Chef Yellow Hot Pepper Paste online in 8-ounce (212.6 gram) jars. (You can note from the label that it is authentic Peruvian-made aji Amarillo paste.)
Adding a Touch of Puerto Rico
If you want to add the flavors of Puerto Rico to your lomo saltado, you might consider setting aside the garlic and using a little Puerto Rican sofrito to the wok when stir-frying everything.
Sofrito is a cooking base typically used when preparing soups and stews. However, it is a wonderful flavor enhancer with its blend of garlic, onion, sweet peppers, bell pepper, and culantro (an herb that tastes similar to cilantro).
You can make your own sofrito from scratch using this recipe, courtesy of the Latin website Delish D’Lites.
Additionally, if you want a shortcut, you can purchase Goya Recaito and Goya Sofrito Cooking Base Twin Pack online.
For those unfamiliar with these bases, Goya’s sofrito is a tomato-based red cooking base, and recaito is green and uses cilantro.
What We Learned Today
We hope you enjoyed our article covering everything you need to know about lomo saltado.
Preparing this dish at home is simple, but does take a little bit of time due to all the slicing and dicing you need to do to make it.
However, we think you will agree that the final product is worth the effort.
And, lomo saltado is a great way to introduce family and friends to one of the most popular dishes in Latin America.
Make sure you check out our other articles about Latin and Spanish cuisine before you leave our website.
And, you might consider bookmarking this article for future reference when hosting dinners for family and friends.
So what’s for dessert? Check out our list of top Peruvian desserts you have to try.
And as always, visit our online store and shop for Peruvian foods and drinks freshly imported from Peru.
Until meet again, buen provecho!
- HuffPost: Peru’s Lomo Saltado on BBC TV
- New Worlder: Origins: Lomo Saltado
- Brown University: Chinese in Peru in the 19th century
- The University of Pittsburgh: Asian Influence on Latin American Food
- The Spruce Eats: What is Culantro
- Delish D’Lites: Puerto Rican Sofrito
Our blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods & drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a wide variety of hard to find freshly imported foods & drinks from all over Latin America and Spain.