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Peruvian Steak and Potato Stir-Fry Or Lomo Saltado

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At the Mercado Central in Santiago,
you can dine on all the fresh seafood
from the market…
even if you’re not entirely sure what it is.
         I’ve had the good fortune to travel to South America several times.  But I have only touched down in Peru. On my way back from Santiago de Chile, our plane made a stop there.  I must confess that Chilean food left me a little cold.  The Chileans will basically eat anything that comes out of the sea. While that befits a country that is a sliver of land an average of 110 miles wide with a 2653 mile Pacific coastline, it leads to eating all manner of sea creatures. Many of these look strangely like barnacles.  In fact, I think it would be possible to eat an entire seafood dinner at the famous Marcado Central without being able to identify a single thing on your plate.  The only meal I relished in Santiago was at a Brazillian steak house.  By the time we got there, I was dying for some bife.  I should have gone next door…to Argentina. Now there’s a country that is a fantastic place to eat – especially if you’re mad for meat.  I am a complete carnivore but after my last trip, I had an appointment with my cardiologist who asked what in god’s name I’d been eating.  Apparently I’d had at least one beef empanada too many.  But when I saw this recipe for a dish with Peruvian roots, it had some important things to recommend it.

The Peruvian Flag features a Llama,
a Chicona Tree and a Cornucopia
to represent the bounty of Peru
         First, its author is Grace Parisi, the former recipe developer and tester at Food and Wine magazine who left that magazine only to take on Time Inc.’s stable of cooking magazines and cookbooks.  From Cooking Light to Real Simple and, in her own words “an insane number of cookbooks’, Grace rules the roost.  I ‘ve had the pleasure of interviewing Grace, a human dynamo who invents and re-invents dozens of recipes a month.  She’s tiny and she stays that way by running marathons.  I know her recipes are always great– easy to prepare, full of flavor and absolutely delicious.  In this one, Grace has taken a classic Peruvian dish Lomo Saltado and made it a simply wonderful weeknight one dish supper.  It all comes together in about 35 minutes thanks to the ease of stir-frying, a technique the weeknight cook should embrace with a passion.

The difference between the original Peruvian recipe and this one is that Grace has made it much easier to achieve by using frozen French fries instead of having you make your own.  With its coriander and cumin, its fresh tomatoes and cilantro it is as aromatic as it is delicious.   The other key difference from the original is that Grace shied away from the Soy Sauce in most recipes. There are some 90,000 Peruvians of Japanese decent in Peru, which is likely where the soy in some recipes came from.  Grace eliminated it. In her recipe Grace also  introduced us to a wonderful addition to our pantry: pickled jalapenos.  So here’s a dish that takes a classic combination—Steak and French fries and packs it with fresh new flavors.  I used Grace’s recommended skirt steak. It’s amazing how the price of that cut of beef has risen with its popularity.  The Peruvians actually use filet of beef in Lomo Saltado but thankfully skirt steak hasn’t gotten that out of reach.  I think you could try this with sirloin, which, at my market at least, is $5.00 less a pound!  But whatever you do, do make this one night this week.  You’ll love everything about it.  Here’s the recipe:

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