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Mar 27, 2012
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Wine With: Peruvian Style Beef, Lomo Saltado


By Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas

Although we have never been to Peru ourselves, in the past couple of years so many of our friends have vacationed there that we feel we are surely missing out on a wonderful place to visit. Everyone who’s been there seems to have especially good things to say about Peruvian food, so when our friend Lisa offered to prepare her favorite dish for us shortly after she returned from a two-week visit to Peru, we immediately accepted the invitation. We also brought with us a dozen or so different wines so that we could all weigh in on which ones we liked best with the Lomo Saltado.

One of the most popular dishes in the Peruvian culinary repertoire, Lomo Saltado represents the fusion of Chinese, Inca and European cuisine known as chifa, which was popularized by the large Chinese immigrant population that settled in Peru in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Lacking many of the ingredients they were used to, the new settlers merged local products with Asian techniques. Lomo Saltado is a delicious sort of stir-fry accompanied by both French fries and white rice. (Confession: since our American palates weren’t quite ready for such a generous dose of carbohydrates we more or less ignored the rice.)

Lomo Saltado

Serves 4

2 potatoes or 1 package frozen French fries*
About 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound beef tenderloin or tri-tip, cut in slices 1/8-1/4 inch thick**
¼ cup white vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 large red onion sliced into thin strips
4 tomatoes (preferably Roma) sliced into strips
1 chili pepper, preferably Peruvian Aji Amarillo, seeded and cut in strips, or one tablespoon Aji Amarillo paste (available in many Latin food stores)
2 cloves minced garlic
½ teaspoon cumin (optional)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro and/or parsley
Cooked white rice

*Lisa used frozen fries for her first trial run, but the oven-baked homemade version was much tastier, and also easier to prepare than she’d expected.

**In Lisa’s two run-throughs, the tri-tip was good, but the tenderloin was better.

Prepare the French fries, and when they are done keep them warm in the oven. Meanwhile, toss the beef strips with the vinegar and soy sauce and let them marinate for about 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a sturdy skillet then add the beef strips, reserving the marinade. Quickly sear the meat for no more than a couple of minutes. Remove it from the skillet and add the onions, cooking them over medium-high heat until they are tender and translucent. Stir in the peppers (or paste) and the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes have softened, add the vinegar, soy sauce and the cumin (if using). Stir in the meat, cover the skillet and simmer the mixture for another couple of minutes or until the meat is done to taste. Check for seasoning, and garnish the dish with parsley and/or cilantro.

To serve, spoon the meat mixture over the French fries, or arrange the fries on top of the meat. Pass the rice separately.

The four of us sitting around the dining room table savoring the delicious Peruvian-inspired dish were in remarkably unanimous agreement about the wines we liked best with the food. Each of us singled out fruit-forward wines, but the ones that got our ultimate “thumbs up” also offered something else in addition to fruit such as minerality, earthiness, and/or spice. Less pleasing were wines that emphasized tannins or astringency.

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Crios, Mendoza, (Argentina)

Malbec 2012

(Imported by Vine Connections)

$15

With its floral aromas and bright plummy flavors, this charming Malbec was a definite group favorite. One of the things we all appreciated was the way the wine connected with the dash of peppery spice in the Lomo Saltado.

Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley (California)

Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

$28

This Cabernet had just the right amount of generous ripe fruit to complement the beefiness of the dish, and the wine’s generally soft texture and smooth tannins were an extra bonus as they counterbalanced the potential sting of vinegar and soy sauce.

La Posta, Mendoza, (Argentina)

Bonarda 2009

(Imported by Vine Connections)

$16

There were many reasons we all liked this wine with the dish, not the least of which was that Bonarda is not a grape we normally have much opportunity to drink. It was one of the bigger, bolder wines in our lineup, but its balanced nuances harmonized well with the diverse flavors in the dish.

Marchesi di Barolo, “Ruvei”, Barbera d’Alba (Italy) 2009

(Imported by Wine Wave)

$16

Fresh and lively, this Barbera delivers plenty of fruit anchored by a touch of earthiness and a crisp, refreshing finish. That earthiness picked up and enhanced the savory cumin notes in the sauté.

Tablas Creek “Patelin de Tablas”, 2010, Paso Robles (California)

Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise

$20

We all loved the way the flavors of this Rhone-style wine matched the equally intricate ingredients that make up the dish. The wine’s good structure and generous fruit were a perfect foil for the compound components of the recipe.