I love the bright colors of ollucos,and their shiny, smooth (and completely edible) skins. These funny-looking root crops are originally from the highest plateaus of the Andes, and Peruvians enjoy them mostly in soups and stews (although I also like adding them to salads). For a long time I only knew one variety, and thought it was the only one, but I was wrong. The shapes and sizes actually vary quite a bit, from the size of a garlic clove to the size of a sweet potato, and from pale to beautiful bright yellows, to reds and flashy pinks. These tubers (olluco comes from the quechua word ¨ullucu¨, which literally means tuber) are more watery and slimy than potatoes, and have a neutral taste. A great thing about them is that they can be eaten raw or cooked.
My first encounter with olluquitos con carne was at home, when Amelia, our long time cook, made the happy introduction. She had told me about this delicious typical food, and cooked it for me substituting the ancient charqui used by the Andeans–dried alpaca meat-, with sirloin steak, which was easier to find and had a much subtler flavor. What can I say? I loved them! The soupy entrée was tender and juicy, making it the perfect sauce for the white rice that accompanied it. It was also somewhat spicy, with the kick of the aji panca,(if you prepare it and want to avoid the heat of the chili pepper, you can use paprika instead). For me, this is a perfect, complete lunch, with all those much-needed carbs and proteins mixed in one robust plate.
If you want to make the original recipe from the mountains, then use charqui, but sirloin is great too. Some of my friends use chopped or ground meat, but even though it´s good, I think it´s too different from the original.
To make things easier for you, I have been looking for fresh ollucos abroad, unfortunately without success. However, I have found them cannedand frozen. I´m not sure if they are good, but I promise I will try them and let you know, unless you do it first and are kind enough to let ME know!
Do you find ollucos where you live? Do you like them?
- • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- • 1 onion, diced
- • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- • 2 tablespoons aji panca paste (or 1 tablespoons paprika)
- • 1 lb sirloin steak, cut in slices
- • 2 lbs ollucos, julienned (cut in sticks)
- • 1 cup meat stock
- • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- • 5 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- • Salt and pepper
- Wash the ollucos in plenty of cold water. Drain and reserve.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over high heat, and stir fry the meat until nicely golden but not dry. You should do this little by little because the meat don´t have to sweat. Transfer the meat to a plate, cover and reserve.
- In the same pan cook onion, garlic and aji panca paste or paprika. Stir constantly.
- Add the chopped ollucos, stir and cook for a few minutes. Put the sirloin back to the saucepan, add the stock, dried oregano, salt, pepper, and cook over medium – low heat, covered, for 40 minutes. Taste again and season with salt and pepper.
- Add parsley and serve at once with fluffy white rice.