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The Gossiping Gourmet: Taste the pleasures of Peru at DX

March 23, 2012|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Filet Mignon Lomo Saltado is a made up of filet mignon steak strips with tomatoes, onions, soy sauce and hand-cut fries.
Filet Mignon Lomo Saltado is a made up of filet mignon steak… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

We discovered DX Peruvian Restaurant in a little collection of small ethnic eateries across the street from South Coast Plaza.

Early influences from Spain and later China, Africa and Europe have all played their part in Peru's culinary evolution but, with 3,800 varieties of potato and 55 varieties of corn, it is not surprising to find these ingredients dominating the cuisine.

The ubiquitous "saltado" is a prime example of the marriage between an indigenous notion of a meal, namely potatoes, with a Chinese cooking technique, namely stir-fry. It consists of beef, chicken or seafood wokked with French fries, vegetables, soy sauce and a bit of vinegar.

Lomo saltado is the most popular version. The beef they use at DX is filet so it is very tender. The French fries are cooked separately. Then, the meat is sliced and cooked in a little oil. Next, onions and tomatoes are added along with a soy and vinegar sauce. Finally, the fries are tossed back into the pan.

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This may sound strange because the fries get soggy, but if you forget the fact that they are French fries and just think of them as potatoes, they begin to grow on you because they soak up all the yummy juices of the jumble.

A classic house-made spicy, chili pepper, garlic, cilantro sauce is placed on the table at the beginning of your meal, along with French bread. The sauce is good on the bread and just about everything else as well.

We used it on our chicken empanadas rather than the light vinegar sauce that accompanied them. The homemade dough was softer than the Argentinean variety but quite flavorful and the edges were crisp. The filling was a pleasant, subtly spicy mixture of chicken and pimentos.

Ceviche is another typical Peruvian dish, and at DX there is an entire ceviche menu. There are two classic preparations — one with fish and one featuring fish and seafood. They are both garnished with a hunk of sweet potato and a sprinkle of Peruvian corn kernels, which are very large, very white and not at all sweet.

Of the five house special ceviches, we chose ceviche verde, which is white fish marinated in lime juice and served with a green chili-cilantro sauce. The fish was tossed with avocado, onions, Peruvian corn and cancha (crunchy dried corn kernels), all on a bed of sliced cucumbers. It was a delicious variation with just the right amount of heat, a nice variety of textures and a wonderful flavor.

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