Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oh the Cravings!!!

Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean that you have to deprive yourself of flavors you like or grew up with.  In my case, I'm often craving Peruvian food, which—of course—includes dishes made with beef, chicken, goat, fish, seafood or pork.  One of my favorite Peruvian dishes (well, one out of my many favorite ones!) is "Lomo Saltado"—an entree that has Asian influences, consisting of strips of sirloin marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and spices, then stir-fried with red onions, tomatoes and parsley, and traditionally served over white rice and homemade french fries.  At home, in Lima, we wouldn't eat much red meat, so "Lomo Saltado" was one of those dishes we could only have for special occasions, like birthdays.

When I started thinking of what to prepare for lunch today, for some reason the thought of "Lomo Saltado" kept coming to my mind . . . and I said to myself:  "why not???"  So, I went into my fridge, freezer and pantry and got out the ingredients that I needed, and adapted them to my cravings.  This is what I came up with:

"Chicken-less Stir-Fry" (Peruvian style)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (for the stir-fry)
1 medium red onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic, sliced into fine slivers
1 heaping spoon of tomato paste
2 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Ponzu
7 oz. vegetable broth
Kosher salt to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Parsley flakes to taste
4 oz. chicken-less strips (you could also use beef-less strips)
1/2 pound sweet potato frozen fries
vegetable oil (for frying the sweet potato fries)

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions until they start to slightly caramelize.  Add garlic and sauté until it becomes fragant, about one minute.  Add salt and red pepper flakes to taste.  Add the tomato paste and sauté for a minute, letting it caramelize a bit.  Add tomatoes and let them cook for two to three minutes, until they are soft.  Add the vinegar, Ponzu and vegetable broth to deglaze the skillet.  Cook everything for two more minutes or so, until the tomatoes break down, adding a little more broth if needed.  Finally, add the chicken-less strips and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Sprinkle parsley flakes to taste and remove from heat.  In a separate pan, fry the sweet potatoes in one to two inches of vegetable oil for almost three minutes, in order to obtain desired color and crispness. Drain on paper towels.  Serve stir-fry with brown rice and fries.

Serves 2.