The commercials for Match.com state that today, one in five relationships begin online, and I believe it. These days, it seems like everyone knows somebody who’s found their significant other through a dating site, and as someone who never experienced online dating (and is thankful for it after some of the stories I’ve heard!), I’m amazed. Across counties, cities, and countries, people are able to meet online and eventually meet in person and get to know each other.
This is how one our good friend Ken met his fiancé, who will soon be on her way from Peru to begin her life here in Fresno, California. Though we haven’t met her yet, Jan and I are excited to welcome her here when she arrives. So when we found ourselves passing by a Peruvian restaurant during a trip to Anaheim earlier this year, it was the perfect opportunity to both taste something new, and be able to report that we had, in fact, tasted Peruvian food.
We were told that one of the signature dishes of Peru was Lomo Saltado, made with thin strips of beef sirloin cooked with onions and tomatoes and served with white rice and French fries. As the dish came to the table, I smelled the beef and onions, with a hint of mouth-watering Chinese food aroma thrown in. While I was initially thrown off by this unlikely combination of scents and flavors, as I ate, that didn’t matter so much—it tasted good.
Lomo Saltado reminds me of a few things I love: beef fajitas, chili cheese fries, and Asian stir fry. Not dishes I would ordinarily group together in the same sentence, but somehow, it seems to work. After all, I wouldn’t give a second thought to eating a steak sandwich with onions and tomatoes along with a side of French fries. So if I could get that same meal without the bread, why not?
On every table of the restaurant, there was also a large bottle of green sauce in a clear squeeze bottle. I kept tasting the sauce over and over, feeling like there was something familiar in it, but was unable to put my finger on it. I asked the waitress what was in the sauce, but she only shrugged her shoulders and said she didn’t know.
At home, we researched recipes in order to recreate Lomo Saltado in our own kitchen. The first time we made it, Jan quickly sautéed the beef and served it over a bed of steak fries (we skipped the white rice). With plenty of juice from the beef to drizzle over the potatoes, the meal was delicious. But then, Jan made the dish again, this time with the green sauce, and that was what took the dish up to the next level. Turns out, that familiar, yet unidentifiable ingredient from the restaurant’s green sauce was feta cheese, something I hadn’t even considered a possibility.
To someone from Peru, our Lomo Saltado might taste far from authentic, but at least they might appreciate the effort, we figured. Jan and I talked about how we could serve the dish and do our best to help Ken’s fiancé feel at home. We patted ourselves on the back, grinning and feeling proud of ourselves. We told Ken we were ready for her to get here. But then he only laughed, and told us that she was a vegetarian.
I sighed, shaking my head. Well, I thought, of course I would have known that if I’d seen her profile. Guess I still haven’t caught up to these online times. With a few spears of asparagus and romaine lettuce as tasting vehicles, I determined another fact: the green sauce doubles as a great salad dressing.
- 1 lb beef sirloin
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- Frozen or freshly prepared French fries
For the marinade
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the green sauce
- 1 cup cilantro
- ½ jalapeno, seeded
- 4 oz. feta cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Slice the beef into thin strips and set aside.
- Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl, then add the beef strips and stir until coated.
- Marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.
- While the beef is marinating, make the green sauce. Use a food processor to combine cilantro, jalapeno, feta cheese, olive oil, canola oil, water, vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Pour into desired serving container and set aside.
- Before removing the beef from the refrigerator, slice the tomatoes and onion into large pieces.
- If cooking the French fries in the oven, allow enough time to begin heating according to package directions. If deep frying the French fries, fry in batches while the beef is cooking with the onions and tomatoes on the stovetop.
- Begin sautéing the onion until it begins to brown. Add the beef to the pan including any remaining liquid from the marinade.
- Sauté until only a little pink remains on the meat, then add the tomatoes.
- Stir and cook until the beef is completely cooked. Serve over a bed of French fries, drizzling the green sauce on top or serving the sauce on the side.