Though China and Peru are separated by a distance of more than 10,000 miles; Chinese influence in Peruvian culture and food is easily reflected in this Latin American country. The history is traced to mid-1800s when more than 100,000 Chinese laborers came to Peru to work as bonded laborers. Today, ethnic Chinese population forms 3% of the total population of Peru.
Lomo saltado, is a popular Peruvian dish evolved with the blending of Peruvian and Chinese culture. Originating as part of Chifa tradition (Chinese term for cooking), Lomo saltado has become part of mainstream Peruvian culture. The Chinese made such an impact on Peruvian food and culture that it affected the local language and introduced new words. A number of Chinese restaurants in Peru are known as Chifa. Such is the popularity of this dish that it is often considered as a dish of nation building. Lomo saltado is best enjoyed with white rice and French fries. White rice, an origin of Asia while potatoes, an origin of Peru; reflect perfect cultural blending of the two countries in this widely-savored Peruvian dish.
Lomo saltado is typically a stir fry made out of beef steak added with onions, tomatoes and other ingredients especially cumin. Garlic is added to taste. Lomo means tenderloin in Spanish but other cuts of beef can work equally well provided they are not overcooked. Saltados or stir fry are available in different versions depending upon the main ingredient used. While beef is the most commonly used ingredient, if beef is replaced with chicken, the dish is termed as pollo saltado. On the other hand, if noodles are used instead of potatoes, the beef-based dish is termed as tallarin saltado. It is interesting to note that though these dishes have Chinese origin, they are not Chinese dishes.
It is an easy preparation if you happen to make it yourself. A whipped mixture of garlic paste, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, canola oil, cumin and ground black pepper is prepared. On the other side, marinated steak is cooked in oil until it turns brown. It is then added with chopped tomatoes and onions. Finally, the whipped mixture is mixed with the latter and there you get the luscious lomo saltado.
Image: By Matt Rubens from San Francisco, CA, USA – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,