Recipe: Tallarín saltado de pollo criollo (Peruvian stir-fried noodles with chicken)

Let me introduce you to lomo saltado‘s cousin, tallarín saltado. Both dishes came to life thanks to the fusion that happened due to the large influx of Cantonese people in Perú between mid 1800s and early 1900s. They share the same core ingredients: beef, tomato, red onion, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, with the main difference being the starch: rice and potato chips in the case of lomo saltado and noodles in the case of tallarín saltado

Yes, I know I said one of the core ingredients of tallarín saltado is beef, but this recipe has chicken in it. This is a fairly common variant and is the one I grew up eating at the Japanese-Peruvian club we were members of. I also find it easier to make with a conventional stovetop, making good stir-fried beef requires a level of heat that is difficult in most homes.

For this recipe, I used a pack of San Remo pulse pasta that I grabbed at the Gluten Free expo. I will be reviewing the pasta later, so I won’t say much here. You can use any type of long pasta for this dish, e.g. flat rice noodles.

One last thing, the “criollo” bit of the name is to differentiate between this version of the dish and the one you typically find in chifas (Chinese restaurants), which is closer to the stir-fried noodle dish most people are familiar with.

Tallarín saltado de pollo criollo (Peruvian stir-fried noodles with chicken)
Yield: 3 servings

Tallarín saltado de pollo criollo

Ingredients

  • 1 pack gluten-free spaghetti (I used San Remo pulse pasta)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 500g chicken breast or thigh fillet, sliced
  • 1 red onion, cut in thick slices
  • 2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • 6 green onions, cut in 3cm pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1cm piece ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to pack instructions. Drain and reserve.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan at high heat. Add chicken.
  3. When chicken is fully cooked, add red onion and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add tomatoes, green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add pasta and sauces, mix well and serve with a side of vegetables.

Holidays in Lima (April 20 2010)

Breakfast on Tuesday was my usual quinoa with a splash of milk, cinnamon, a banana de seda*, almonds and a granadilla**.

My friend from school Marlene and I met in Hikari, a charcoal chicken restaurant that is supposed to have one of the best lomo saltados in Lima. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed, so we took a taxi and went to Don Bosco. It was packed, as usual, so we had to wait for a table. The good thing is that people having lunch there usually have to rush back to their offices, so they eat pretty quickly. Obviously, I ordered lomo saltado, one of my favourite creole dishes which has a strong Chinese influence. It’s a stir-fry made with tenderloin pieces, tomato and red onion wedges and julienned yellow chili, seasoned with soy sauce and vinegar (as happens with all dishes every cook makes their own version, mine includes garlic, pepper, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, red wine vinegar and oyster sauce). The sides are white rice and potato chips (French fries), and common garnishes are chopped spring onions, parsley or coriander (I prefer coriander). There’s a debate regarding the chips, some say they should be mixed with the stir-fry so that they arrive to the table moistened by the sauce, others say that chips should remain crisp on the side of the plate and that the diner should choose whether to mix them with the sauce or not. I prefer my chips wet and juicy.

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Marlene ordered tallarín saltado, basically a lomo saltado but served on top of pasta instead of rice and potato chips.

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We left the restaurant soon to leave room for more people to have lunch. We walked to San Antonio, a popular cafe in a suburb nearby. I had a café con leche (flat white) and a lúcuma** and chocolate tart. Marlene ordered a café americano (long black) and a passion fruit mousse; she had another coffee later. Marlene and her partner Jaime lived for two years in Sydney so there were plenty of things to talk about. We agreed to have dinner before I left Lima in a sushi restaurant called Hanzo, where Jaime works.

For dinner I had some leftovers in my aunties’ house: one tamalito verde***, a lettuce, cucumber, capsicum and avocado salad with lime juice, one humita dulce****, chicha morada*** and green tea.

* The explanation about the types of bananas can be found here.

** The explanation about granadilla and lúcuma can be found here.

*** The explanation about tamalito verde and chicha morada can be found here.

**** The explanation about humita dulce can be found here.

Holidays in Lima (April 18 2010)

On Sunday I had a papaya and banana de seda* juice and some quinoa for breakfast, nothing too heavy in preparation for all the food that followed later on that day. We had one of those traditional family lunches in my aunties’ house where we eat heaps of food, chat, laugh and eat more food.

We had chifa for lunch. Chifa is how Chinese restaurants are called in Peru, and by extension, we use the same word for Chinese food. Many years ago a lot of Chinese, mostly from Canton, arrived in Peru as labourers and stayed there, along with their cuisine, which we adapted and adopted. If you walk on the streets of Lima you will find as many chifas as Thai food eateries in Sydney. I’d say that the most popular restaurants in Lima are chifas and pollerías (charcoal chicken restaurants).

My family has always bought food from the same place, Chifa Canadá (it’s on an Avenue called Canada), one of the yummiest in Lima, in my opinion. I had asked my auties to buy arroz chaufa (fried rice), kam lu wantán (pork, chicken, pineapple and vegetables in a sweet red sauce with fried wontons), tallarín saltado (fried noodles) and pollo enrollado con espárragos (chicken stuffed with asparagus). Additionally, the got chi jau kay (chicken morsels battered in potato starch, fried and served with oyster sauce) and pollo trozado de la casa (the restaurant’s signature chicken). They prepared some nabo encurtido (pickled turnip) to compliment the food.

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I bought a Californian Zinfandel rosé instead of a Riesling because I thought it would be easier to drink for a family not used to drinking wine. Dessert was the crema volteada I prepared the day before, also to please my sister’s and my niece’s palates. It certainly isn’t one of my favourite desserts, I would never choose it if I had other options.

In this special Sundays we have lonche instead of dinner. The word lonche, as you might have guessed, comes from lunch, but it actually refers to some sort of afternoon tea. I wanted to eat tamales, so I asked my aunties to buy: tamalitos verdes**, tamales criollos***, humitas de pollo** (humitas stuffed with chicken), humitas dulces (sweet humitas, with sugar in the dough and filled with manjarblanco and raisins) and empanadas de carne (beef empanadas, those yummy pastries filled with ground meat, onions, garlic, boiled egg and olives you may already know thanks to globalisation). My aunties, of course, ignored my instructions the buy only two of each and split them to share and got heaps of food. They also bought bread rolls: pan de yema (a sweet roll similar to a burger bun), whole wheat bread and pan francés (French-style bread). I had a small piece of each thing and two bread rolls.

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* The explanation about the types of bananas can be found here.

** The explanation about tamalito verde and humita can be found here.

*** The explanation about tamal criollo can be found here.