Tuesday, 21 July 2015

RECIPE - Peruvian style beef stir fry

I was recently asked by Encona to review their new Peruvian Amarillo Chilli Sauce. They sent me a bottle to try: here's what they say about it:

The taste of Peru has travelled over the Andes, across the pond and landed in Britain. Encona have created a Peruvian Amarillo sauce so you can now bring the Peruvian flavour to your kitchen.

Encona Peruvian Amarillo Sauce is a blend of authentic Peruvian Amarillo chillies, roasted onion, spices and herbs creating a sweet, subtle chilli flavour with a hint of garlic – the perfect way for eager taste explorers to get their taste buds tingling without the cost of a plane ticket.

 Peruvian restaurants have been popping up across the country as us Brits seek out new flavours and food adventures. But not all of us are lucky enough to have one on our doorstep.

But now, thanks to Encona, you can have a taste of the Americas in your own cooking. And it isn’t limited to Peru.

 Grab your maracas and sombreros, Encona are taking us to Mexico too. Launching alongside their Peruvian sauce, they have created a Mexican Smokey Jalapeno Sauce.

A delicious blend of chillies and spices gives the rich sauce a subtle smokey flavour and a warm and fruity taste to compliment your Mexican meals.

For those adventurous chefs out there, each sauce can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: with grilled meat, prawns and fish, drizzled over salads, used as a marinade or even as a dipping sauce. Both sauces are gluten free.

So whether you are cooking for a Peruvian dinner date or the Mexican fiesta, grab Peruvian Amarillo or Mexican Smokey Jalapeno and banish the bland.

 I decided that the best way to review it would be to cook with it - but what to cook? I have never tasted Peruvian food, and had no idea what to expect. I did a bit of research, and although there are similarities to lots of other Latin American countries' foods, especially the preponderance of ceviche (which I couldn't try because Mark can't eat fish or seafood) but one thing stood out from other parts of the region - stir fries! I'm much more used to cooking Chinese stir fries, but I was keen to give a Peruvian one a try.
Lots of them use beef and green beans as the main ingredients. Some sources call stir fried beef "lomo" but others use that term for completely different dishes, so I'm not going to call my dish that - in any case, it doesn't claim to be an authentic Peruvian dish as I have no experience of an authentic one to compare it to. But it is delicious!
Now this is where the Encona sauce came into its own. Although Mark grows lots of chillis,  Amarillo isn't one he's ever tried. He did grow some yellow ones last year and there was one left in the freezer so I lifted it out to "pose" for the photo. But Encona have brought us the right variety of chilli, plus the garlic and spices needed for the recipe, all blended into one handy sauce. Now for the recipe - and one of the ingredients will surprise you!
Peruvian style beef stir fry - serves 2

250g frying steak, cut into thin slices about 4cm x 1cm
1 small red onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 tbs chopped parsley
150g green beans
2 tbs Encona Peruvian Amarillo sauce
2 tbs sunflower oil
100g extra-thin or shoestring oven chips (yes, really!!!)
rice for serving

First of all, check the timing on your oven chips and plan when to  get them started  - you want them to be ready, nice and crispy, just as the stir fry is ready. Mine needed 5 minutes of cooking so I popped them into the oven just before starting to fry everything.

Trim the beans and cut into short lengths, drop into a small pan of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes until just tender. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan, Add the beef strips and fry over high heat until starting to colour, then add the onion and stir fry until the meat is cooked and the onion softened. Stir in the beans and the Amarillo sauce and cook until the beans are heated through, Then stir in the tomatoes and parsley, mix well and remove from heat. Now top with the oven chips and serve with rice.

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Our verdict - delicious, but I really didn't think it needed the chips. They were an interesting addition,  but the stir fry was delicious without them - and we've been eating stir fries with rice for many decades so why change the habit of a lifetime? But the stir fry itself was absolutely delicious,  and the Encona sauce and parsley combined to give a fresh, spicy tang that we loved - and was completely different from the Oriental stir fries we are used to. Having the chilli, garlic and spices already blended into the sauce was a great timesaver too, and I'm sure I'll be altering some of my more traditional Chinese stir fries to sort-of-Peruvian ones from now on.

There are some suggestions for use on the bottle label, but I would have liked to have seen some guidance as to the quantities to use - I experimented until I got the amount right for this dish, but would like to have been given a rough idea how much to use, as I didn't know whether to use a few drops or half the bottle. Maybe as it's such a new ingredient to the UK market, Encona could attach a little recipe booklet to the neck collar, or mention on the label a website where we could find more recipes like this one? (And yes, Encona, if you are reading this I would be delighted for this recipe to be included, I would love it if other people could enjoy it as much as we did!) .

Note - I was sent the bottle of sauce for review, but the recipe, all ingredients and opinions are entirely my own.

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