Lomo Saltado is a popular, traditional Peruvian dish made with marinated strips of beef sirloin, stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, french fries, and other ingredients; and is typically served with rice. Another variation of the dish uses chicken instead of beef, and it’s called Pollo Saltado.
“Saltado” in culinary terms means stir-fried or sautéed. Saltado dishes originated as part of the chifa tradition, which is the Chinese cuisine of Peru – so it’s a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine, but its popularity has made it part of the mainstream Peruvian culture.
Last week, I went to a Peruvian restaurant called Choza 96 in Pasadena, California to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of plant-based items on the menu, but seeing a saltado dish that’s completely vegetarian was a treat. I ordered Tofu Saltado, and it came with a festive array of colorful veggies, flavorful grilled tofu cubes – with french-fried potatoes stir-fried into the soy sauce and garlic-infused medley — and I immediately fell in love with the dish. I remember thinking that this tofu dish could not have been better if it had been made with beef or chicken.
The following day, I found a tofu saltado recipe on the Internet, and proceeded to make the dish at home two days later – yeah, that’s how much I loved the dish that I couldn’t wait to make it. My homemade version tasted just as good as the dish I had at Choza 96. But then again, it was such an easy dish to make that I doubt anyone could go wrong making it.
Grapeseed oil (or any flavorless vegetable oil — light olive oil is fine, but not extra-virgin)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 onion, minced
1 block (14 oz.) firm tofu
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
French fries (packaged/frozen – enough for 4 servings)
2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup onions, julienned into 1/4″ pieces
2 red bell peppers, julienned into 1/4″ slices
Steamed rice (Serving size for 4)
Cut the tofu block into half-inch slices, and marinate them by placing in a container or Ziploc bag with 1 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar. Marinate for 30 minutes or more.
Place fries on a baking sheet and cook according to package instructions. You can also make homemade fries by cutting potatoes in 4 or 5 vertical pieces, and then cutting each piece into sticks; fry till golden . Season with a little salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Add garlic and onions and sauté on medium high for approximately 2 minutes.
Add tofu to the skillet. Cook tofu slices on each side for about 2 minutes and remove, then slice into half-inch cubes.
Sauté onions, peppers, and tomatoes for 1-2 minutes. Add tofu back into the skillet. Add french fries, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, and stir fry everything together. Remove from heat. Garnish with thinly-sliced red bell pepper, and serve with steamed rice.