I love how aromatic and tasty cilantro is; I really think it´s a wonderful herb. I don’t know if this is an acquired taste, as the bold ingredient is present in many Peruvian dishes (it even is the star in some of them), or I’m just lucky to have been born in Peru. The recipe that I am sharing today has cilantro as the principal source of flavor, and it is one of my favorites.
Seco is one of the most popular recipes of Peruvian cuisine, and one of the main elements of traditional “comida criolla”, which is the name we give to typical food from the coastal region of the country. The roots of this dish in our gastronomy are very old, a product of the Arab influence that the Spanish brought with them during colonial times. Seco was originally prepared in the northern part of the country, but it is now eaten all along the coast. When you try it, you will understand why it has become so popular.
As would be expected, thanks to the cilantro this entrée’s flavor is intense and delicious. We usually have it with white fluffy rice and canary beans on the side, and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Although it is traditionally made with beef, chicken or goat, the recipe allows for some variations and could be made with other kinds of meat, fish, seafood, or even just vegetables. The secret here is to let the meat simmer over medium-low heat, so it can absorb the flavors and get a fork tender texture.
The result, for me, is irresistible.
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut in 2×2 inch pieces
- 1 chopped red onion
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste
- 3 cups cilantro leaves
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 potatoes, cut in four parts
- ¾ cup green peas
- ¾ cup diced carrots
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat, and when it is very hot sear the beef pieces until they are golden brown.
- Put the cilantro and spinach in the blender and process with one cup water. Reserve.
- Add the onions, garlic and aji amarillo paste to the saucepan; stir and let them cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Pour the cilantro mix and turn the heat to medium heat. Stir constantly until the water evaporates.
- Add one tablespoon of oil, if necessary, to fry the herbs. The cilantro and spinach are going to get a dark green color.
- Pour 6 cups of water and simmer over medium-low heat for 2 hours with the lid on. Check constantly and add water if necessary.
- When the meat is fork tender add the potatoes, green peas and carrots; cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- The stew is ready when the veggies are cooked and the juice is reduced.
- Serve with rice and beans.