Peruvian Lomo Saltado Inspired by the Memoir 'Turn Right at Machu Picchu'

Peruvian Lomo Saltado Inspired by the Memoir 'Turn Right at Machu Picchu'

Wednesday, 9 December, 2020

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


Mark Adams is the narrator and would-be hero of the exciting adventure book Turn Right at Machu Picchu. It’s only fitting that we pay homage to his story with a recipe that’s equally bold, colorful, and typically Peruvian.

Before setting out on the trek that would literally put him in the footsteps of explorer Hiram Bingham, Adams was an editor for National Geographic Adventure Magazine, more accustomed to describing adventures than having them himself. But one day, he decided he needed to experience life first-hand, so he set out for the Andes Mountains in Peru.

The story of chef and writer Martin Morales is that story in reverse: He grew up in Peru, cooking under the watchful eyes and helpful hands of his great-aunts Carmela and Otilia. His adventures eventually led him to London, where he opened the wildly successful Peruvian restaurant Ceviche, among others.

The books Turn Right at Machu Picchu and Ceviche by Martin Morales — featured in our podcast episode Peru: Andes Adventures, Fusion Food, and Piles of Gold — recount the challenges that compelled both men to travel far and to appreciate the wonders they found, both abroad and at home.

This version of Lomo Saltado is adapted from Ceviche, in which Morales explains that during one week in Lima, he visited 27 restaurants, ‘from fine-dining establishments to hole-in-the-wall spots,’ to taste their lomo saltado and, eventually, perfect his own recipe. Here’s a short video of Morales providing a thrilling demonstration of how he cooks it at his restaurant.

Although Martin’s cooking technique gets pretty dramatic, making it on your own stovetop is actually quite tame. This dish is very easy to cook — no open flames required. Just be sure to prep all of the stir-fry ingredients before you crank up the heat so you can sauté it quickly.

 beef stir fry with rice and french fries on a plate
Photo courtesy of Julia-Bogdanova/Shutterstock.

Lomo Saltado

Serves 2-4 cups. Prep 10 minutes. Marinate 4 hours. Cook 25 minutes.



  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • 1 1/3 pounds (600g) beef fillet steak, cut into 1 1/4 inch (3cm) cubes
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into thick wedges
  • 2 tomatoes, halved, seeded, and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 amarillo (or serrano) chile, seeded and sliced lengthwise
  • 4 teaspoons (20ml) pisco (No pisco? Substitute tequila or grappa.)
  • 1 1/2 cups (25g) cilantro leaves, minced
  • 2/3 cup (10g) parsley leaves, minced


  • 1 1/2 pounds (.7kg) russet potatoes (about 3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon butter or olive oil


Marinate the meat: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the meat and toss to coat. Marinate for 4 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to eat…

Preheat the pan for fries. Move your oven rack to the lowest level. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 500F/260C.

Prep the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick sticks and place in a large bowl. Add the oil, salt, and pepper, toss to coat. Set aside.

Cook the rice. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cover with a lid and cook over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Bake the fries. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the fries out on the preheated baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven’s lower rack. Bake for 15 minutes, toss, and continue to bake until the fries are slightly golden and crispy. Then reduce the oven temperature to 425F/218C and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Cook the stir-fry. Remove the meat from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a large skillet or wok for 3-5 minutes until it’s very hot. Add the red onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chile, toss to combine, cook for a minute or so, then transfer to a plate. Add the meat and cook quickly, browning the cubes on all sides. Return the veggies to the pan and immediately add the pisco. Stir-fry a few seconds, then pour the reserved marinade into the pan, toss to combine, and let it rest for a few minutes.

Bring it home. Remove the fries from the oven, taste, and add more salt, if necessary. Remove the lid from the rice and fluff it with a fork. Sprinkle the stir-fry with the cilantro and parsley.

To serve, pile rice, fries, and stir-fry on a plate. Inhale the aroma. Toast to the memory of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa. (You might start your meal with a nibble of Andean popcorn and a Pisco Sour.)

On a globe, it looks like a swollen California. Within that space, though, are twenty-thousand-foot peaks, the world’s deepest canyon (twice as deep as the Grand Canyon), unmapped Amazon jungle and the driest desert on Earth. — Mark Adams

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

by Mark Adams

Mark Adams was a successful editor for National Geographic Adventure Magazine, spending his days at a desk, writing about thrilling excursions, but not taking them himself. Then one day, he decided he needed an adventure, and he set out to retrace the steps of Hiram Bingham, who introduced Machu Picchu to the rest of the world in 1911. Adams’ trek took him over 100 miles on foot through some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain on the Earth. He was joined on his journey by 60-something, vastly experienced Australian explorer John Leivers, a real-life mashup of Indiana Jones and Crocodile Dundee. This unlikely duo hires a crew of porters and llamas and a cook, then they set out to conquer the Andes. {more}

This exciting memoir (352 pages) was published in June of 2011 by Dutton. The book takes you to modern Peru. David read Turn Right at Machu Picchu and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time


Top image courtesy of Skreidzeleu/Shutterstock.

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With adorable alpacas, astonishing Inca ruins, and irresistible cuisine, Peru is a wonderland for travelers. In this episode, we dig into history and culture, then recommend great books for your armchair travel.
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