- Hardcover: 276 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544454308
- ISBN-13: 978-0544454309
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fire of Peru: Recipes and Stories from My Peruvian Kitchen Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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Lomo Saltado: Peruvian Beef Stir-Fry from The Fire of Peru
Lomo saltado is probably on every mom-and-pop Peruvian restaurant menu. The classic beef stir-fry is easy to make from inexpensive ingredients. When I’m having a rough day, lomo saltado is still the comfort food dish that does it for me. The best taste like a big, warm and cozy salad. You get a little crunchiness, but also something satisfying in your belly. The key is to fry everything at very high heat so you get a good sear on the ingredients, but you don’t cook out all of their freshness. You should never spend more than two minutes from the time your beef hits the pan to when the scallion and cilantro garnishes are ready to scatter on top of the finished dish. The meat should be medium-rare, the tomatoes juicy, and the onions barely softening on the edges but still crunchy in the center.
1. Prepare the potatoes or rice, or rewarm the leftovers. You can roast baby fingerlings, go all-out and confit them in olive oil, make homemade french fries, or even fry up good-quality store-bought fries. The same goes for rice: Use leftovers, or make your favorite style of white or brown rice to serve with the saltado.
2. Next, prep all of your other ingredients, so they’re ready; this dish cooks quickly. (Keep each in a separate pile.) Sprinkle the beef lightly with the salt and pepper and rub the pureed garlic all over the meat with your hands. Put the red onion half, cut side down, lengthwise on a work surface. Slice off both ends, then slice the onion into lengthwise strips about ½ inch thick, moving the knife at a slight angle as you work around the onion globe. Your knife should be almost parallel to the cutting board along the sides of the onion and upright at the top. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and cut each half into several large, chunky wedges. Finely chop the scallions, including about halfway up the green stalk, or chop them roughly for more texture, if you’d like. Finely chop the cilantro leaves and top half of the stems. Have your saltado and soy sauces measured and ready.
3. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat until hot—a good 2 minutes. Pour in the oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and heat the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until very hot. The oil shouldn’t be smoking, but close to it. Swirl the oil around the pan, then toss in the beef and quickly sear both sides for a few seconds each until it begins to brown, about 30 seconds total. Add the onion and shake the pan or use tongs to flip them a few times, then add the tomatoes right away. Fry the saltado until the edges of the onions color in a few spots and the tomatoes barely begin to soften, about 30 seconds. The total cooking time shouldn’t be more than 90 seconds at this point.
4. Immediately drizzle the saltado and soy sauces along the edges of the wok or pan, not on top of the stir-fry ingredients. You should smell the sauces caramelizing. Scatter the scallions and cilantro on top of the stir-fry and toss everything together one more time. Taste and add another drizzle of soy sauce, if you’d like. The saltado should be really juicy, with big flavors that the potatoes or rice can sop up.
5. Spoon the lomo saltado straight out of the pan into serving bowls. Pile the potatoes on top or serve the rice alongside.
Note: To Make Pureed Garlic or Ginger
Combine about 1¼ cups peeled garlic cloves (4 to 5 heads) or 1 cup roughly chopped peeled fresh ginger in a blender with 3 tablespoons water. Puree the garlic or ginger until finely chopped. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil until you have a smooth, fluffy puree. Store the puree in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze the puree in a flat, thin layer in a medium plastic food storage bag so you can break off small pieces as needed. Makes about 1 cup.
- About 1 cup baby fingerlings or roughly chopped potatoes, 2 handfuls of homemade or good-quality frozen french fries, or about 1½ cups rice
- 8 to 10 ounces filet mignon or tenderloin, thinly sliced into 2-inch-long strips
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon pureed garlic (see note below)
- ½ medium red onion, halved from stem to root end
- 1 ripe medium heirloom, beefsteak, or other juicy tomato, or 2 plum tomatoes
- 2 scallions
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 1½ tablespoons Saltado Sauce (see recipe below)
- 1½ tablespoons soy sauce, preferably a good-quality Japanese brand, or more to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
Makes about ¾ cup
A saltado “sauce” doesn’t really exist in traditional Peruvian cooking. It’s what I call the base seasoning that we use at my restaurants to make saltados. Instead of prepping and adding seasonings like ají amarillo, ginger, and red wine vinegar as you fry the other ingredients, my saltado sauce does the work for you in one or two spoonfuls. Make the sauce ahead, keep it in the fridge, and you’re ready to go.
Shake up all of the ingredients in a small jar, or stir them together in another storage container. Cover and refrigerate the sauce for up to 1 week.
- 2 tablespoons pureed garlic (see note above)
- 2 tablespoons pureed ginger (see note above) or finely zested ginger
- 1 tablespoon ají amarillo paste, store-bought or homemade
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably a good-quality Japanese brand, or 1½ tablespoons tamari
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
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This cookbook is not your traditional Peruvian cookbook. Zarate even states in his recipes that some ingredients or techniques are not traditional. If you want a good all purpose Peruvian cookbook, grab "The Everything Peruvian Cookbook".
Yes I might be biased, but this is by far the best Peruvian cookbook that in my collection of three (Everything Peruvian, The Fire of Peru, and
Peru). Here's why:
1) The other two cookbooks I have (Everything Peruvian and Peru) are nice cookbooks but there is a lot of ambiguity in those recipes especially since they try to cram 100s of recipes. The Fire gives you tips on what to do and what not to do. The recipes are a lot more detailed. For example, in the saltado recipe, Zarate recommends you make a saltado sauce and then drizzle it on the edge of the wok to carmelize the sauce. Quality over quantity.
2) The Fire is tailored and written for a home cook in the US, not in Peru. Therefore the recipes minimize the obscure ingredients. Yes you will need a few Peruvian stapes: aji amarillo, aji panca, aji rocoto and Japanese staples: yuzu kosho, mirin, shoyu, but once you have these kitchen staples, you should be able to make most recipes. All these fluffy cookbooks requiring obscure ingredients to make one recipe in the cookbook. Who realistically has time to seek out a virgin baby unicorn's tear drops for one recipe?
3) The aesthetics of the cookbook are top notch. The paper quality, the pictures, and the size of the book are top notch. You can lay it flat and open to actually use as a cookbook, go figure.
4) The editing is well done. Easy to read and understand, unlike "Peru". The stories that lead into the recipes are interesting. Of course, I'm a bit biased.
The only negative is the cookbook could have probably used a handful more recipes to fill the book out more. I would have enjoyed a few more of Zarate's touch on some other common Peruvian dishes like Pescado a lo Macho or Arroz con Mariscos.
COMMENT ADDED 11/25/15: I have made Zarate's Lomo Saltado in my new 65000 BTU wok burner (must have very high heat) and the dish was absolutely mind-blowing good. On par with the dish he served at Mo-Chica. The lomo is better than 95% of the 30+ Peruvian restaurants that I've been to. Maybe it's the wok-hei taste that I get from my new burner, but man, it's amazing!
I made a few of his quick easy Japanese mayo-based dipping sauces. Good, but not great.
Fully expecting to love this book based on all the wonderful reviews, the results of my first intensive foray into this book was not very fruiful. There are two reasons why I have given this book a 3 star rating today. Firstly,the results of this lengthy labor of love, were not inspiring (I will explain more fully below) and secondly, there was a missing sub-recipe. This is disappointing, but was not entirely to blame for the meal let-down, as it was for a condiment to be served with the finished dish, and I did manage with quite a bit of research to make something which (perhaps) may have been an ok stand-in for the missing recipe.
I decided to make the Peruvian Fried Chicken with Rocoto Aioli and Salsa Criolla and also the Southern Peruvian-Style Salad with Potatoes, Favas and Rocoto Viniagrette. All of which required a number of sub-recipes and prep and a couple of trips to get all of the ingredients (frozen favas, Aji Panca paste, Aji Amarillo paste, Rocoto Paste, Botija olives) All the other ingredients were standard fridge and pantry items.
Additionally, the sub-recipes required in order to make this meal were Anticucho sauce (to marinate the chicken in) Rocoto Viniagrette (for the salad), Salsa Criolla and, Rocoto Aioli - both recommeded to serve with the chicken.
On top of all that, as I couldn't buy Rocoto paste from my store, I looked online and at the discussion on making your own pastes in this book, and was able to purchase whole rocoto chiles and made it from scratch.
It all sounded promising until I got to the recommended Rocoto Aioli to serve with the fried chicken, which was supposed to be on page 38. Also, no such recipe. A peruse of the index shed no light, and so I checked the entire book page by page with no luck. I reviewed the recipes for other aiolis ijn the book, and checked online and decided that I could make it with kewpie-style mayo (as recommended for the other aiolis in this book) which I also sourced a recipe for online and made from scratch along with the Rocoto paste which I had already made.
The rocoto aioli tasted like slightly spicy thousand island dressing. There is no way of knowing whether it should taste like this or not considering the missing aioli recipe and the fact that I made my own Rocoto paste, So I won't fault this book for the flavor of said aioli, but I would really like the actual missing recipe!
Additionally, the anticucho sauce that is used to marinade the chicken, was disappointing. The chicken was salty and slightly vinegary and that was about it. The description of the Anticucho sauce was that "the bright spicy heat of aji amarillo peppers plays off the smokiness of the aji panca peppers" But none of that came through for us. It mainly tasted like soy sauce.
The Rocoto salad viniagrette would have been good, if not for the balsamic (recommended if you can't get Banyuls vinegar) Alas, it tasted only of balsamic. I would try this vinaigrette again, and source Banyuls vinegar on Amazon and will note any improvement in this review. But we did not enjoy the salad or the viniagrette. If I make the viniagrette again I will use it on a different salad. It was very heavy and starchy with the favas and the potatoes and peas, and not very flavorful.
The chicken also was not anything special due to the soy flavored Anticucho sauce. And although I made my own Rocoto paste and Rocoto Aioli that was for a side condiment and was not the cause of our disappointment overall.
I only use the best ingredients I can find, and went to great lengths to purchase or make from scratch everything that I needed for these recipes.
I can only report on the recipes I have tried so far and will update my review as I cook more from this book. I wouldnt normally comment on a book after making only one meal. Sadly however, I was disappointed with every one of the sub-recipes that were required for these two dishes.
Future editions need to address the issue of the missing aioli recipe which is supposed to be on page 38.
I fully intend to cook extensively from this book and have high hopes given the other good reviews that there are some hiddlen gems that I have yet to discover. But for now, I am sorry to report that my experience been a bit underwhelming.
Here is a Rocoto Aioli recipe in case anyone else has been searching for it. I don't know how similar this might be to the missing aioli recipe, and if anyone has a good/better/best one,please post it in the comments. If, like me, you can't find Rocoto paste in the store, pg 34 of this book tells you how to make your own from fresh or frozen Rocoto peppers (although jarred isn't highly recommended it was all I could find)
1 cup of Mayo (preferably Kewpie - but I made mine with apple cider vinegar and an egg yolk, for those like me who enjoy making mayo - (also happy to share my recipe for Kewpie stype mayo, if anyone wants it just comment below)
2-5 Tb Rocoto Paste (to taste, I ended up using 5Tb but I made my own paste with jarred Rocoto peppers, which the book says may be less flavorful. Other pastes might be stronger or hotter than mine)
Juice of 2 large limes
1 tsp powdered mustard
1-2 tsp salt (to taste, depends on how salty your mayo is. As I made my own mayo and my own Rocoto paste, I needed 2tsp salt, but I admit this does sound like a lot so add it in 1/2 tsp at a time until it is to your liking.
As said, I will edit this and perhaps change the rating as I cook more from this book.
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