This dish is perhaps one of the most emblematic chifa (Chinese-Peruvian dishes) in Peru. It has become so embedded in the country’s national cuisine that most Peruvians don’t even think about its Chinese origins. In my rendition, I reemphasize the Chinese elements in this dish by adding ginger, which gives the dish a pleasant bite, and oyster sauce, which adds a rich mouthfeel and profound umami flavor. Although traditionally made with beef sirloin, this recipe works with any protein, including tofu. At chifa restaurants, this dish would be cooked in a wok, but any pan that can tolerate very high heat will work for this recipe. Make sure to crack open a window and crank up your exhaust, as things can get smoky. The addition of crisp French fries makes lomo saltado particularly decadent. At home, I usually make my partner pick up some French fries from a nearby restaurant. However, you can fry or bake your own potatoes or just use frozen French fries. —Carlos C. Olaechea
Marinate the beef in 1 T soy sauce, the cumin, black pepper, and sugar. Set aside for about 15 to 30 minutes.
Rinse onions twice in cold water and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix remaining soy sauce, oyster sauce, ají panca paste, and Worcestershire sauce.
Heat a large pan to very high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When the pan is very hot and oil is almost smoking, add a single layer of sirloin. Let brown, and then toss to brown evenly. Cook for about 3 minutes, and then remove the pan from the heat. Transfer sirloin to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef until it is all browned.
Add cider vinegar to onions and quickly toss to combine. Heat pan over high heat and add a little oil, if necessary. Add onions and stir-fry until no longer raw but still crunchy. Add a few drops of water if necessary to prevent burning. When cooked, remove the pan from the heat and transfer onions into the bowl with the sirloin.
Return pan to the heat and add a little more oil, if necessary. Add tomatoes and stir-fry until no longer raw and still holding their shape, around 1 minute. You are almost just heating them through. Remove pan from the heat, and transfer tomatoes into the bowl with the onions and sirloin.
Reduce the heat to medium, return pan to the burner, and add a little bit of vegetable oil, if necessary. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic just begins to get golden.
Immediately add the oyster sauce mixture to the pan. Stir to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook the sauce until it reduces slightly and has a syrupy texture, around 2-3 minutes.
Immediately add the vegetables and beef into the pan and stir to coat everything with the sauce. Add cilantro and French fries and stir again. Serve immediately with white rice.
Note: Ají panca is dried, maroon-colored chili that forms the backbone of many Peruvian dishes. It has a bit of a kick and a mild, slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of dried fruit. You can find ají panca paste in jars at many Latino groceries or online. If it's unavailable to you, use cayenne pepper to taste.
I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.