I'm sharing how to create a mouthwatering Pollo Saltado. This Peruvian stir-fry dish is a beautiful fusion of flavors, where marinated chicken meets a colorful array of bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Aji amarillo adds an extra layer of complexity with its fruity heat, making this a stand-out meal that's as fun to cook as it is to eat.
What I love about this recipe is its versatility and how it brings together the best of two culinary worlds: the deep, savory notes of Peruvian cuisine and the quick, high-heat cooking style typical of Asian stir-fries. It's perfect for a weeknight dinner yet special enough for guests. Serve it with steamed rice or crispy fried potatoes to make it a hearty, well-rounded meal. Trust me, once you try it, this Pollo Saltado will become a staple in your cooking repertoire.
What is Saltado de Pollo?
Saltado de Pollo is a beloved Peruvian dish that's essentially a stir-fry combining marinated chicken, onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. I infuse the chicken with a marinade of soy sauce, red wine vinegar, and spices like cumin and paprika, and then quickly stir-fry it in a hot skillet. To elevate the dish's flavors, I also add aji amarillo, a spicy Peruvian yellow chili paste. This creates a rich, flavorful sauce that wonderfully complements the ingredients. I usually serve Pollo Saltado with steamed rice or crispy fried potatoes, making it a complete, hearty meal that showcases the unique blend of Peruvian and Asian culinary traditions.
If you can't find some of the ingredients or you have dietary restrictions, don't worry—I've got you covered with these substitutions.
- Aji Amarillo Paste: If you can't find aji amarillo, you can substitute with another chili paste like Serrano or even a splash of hot sauce. Keep in mind that the flavor will differ slightly.
- Soy Sauce: For a gluten-free version, you can use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
- Red Wine Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar can also work in a pinch.
- Chicken: If you're vegetarian or simply want a change, tofu or tempeh can replace the chicken. Make sure to press the tofu well to remove excess moisture.
- Vegetable Oil: Feel free to use other neutral oils like canola or sunflower oil.
- Fresh Cilantro: If you're not a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley for garnish instead.
Tips and Tricks for Saltado de Pollo
When I'm making Pollo Saltado, there are a few hacks and techniques I always keep in mind to ensure the dish turns out as delicious as possible. Here they are:
- Slice Chicken Evenly: Make sure to slice the chicken into thin, even pieces. This ensures that it cooks quickly and evenly in the stir-fry.
- High Heat is Key: Always stir-fry over medium-high to high heat. This ensures that the chicken and vegetables cook quickly and develop a nice sear, locking in their flavors.
- Fresh Veggies: I always opt for fresh vegetables to get the best texture and flavor. Frozen can work in a pinch, but the results won't be the same.
- Marinate Ahead: The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it becomes. If I have time, I like to marinate it for at least two hours or even overnight.
- Adjust the Spice: The amount of aji amarillo paste can be tweaked depending on your heat tolerance. Start with a smaller amount and add more as needed.
- Don't Overcrowd the Pan: If the skillet is too crowded, the ingredients will steam rather than sear. Sometimes, I cook the chicken in batches to avoid this.
- Taste as You Go: Always taste the stir-fry before serving and adjust the seasoning if necessary. A little extra salt, pepper, or even a splash of soy sauce can make a world of difference.
- Quick Serving: This dish is best enjoyed hot. As soon as it's ready, serve it up with your choice of steamed rice or fried potatoes for the full experience.
Freezing, Storing, and Reheating
When it comes to Pollo Saltado, I often make a bigger batch just so I can enjoy it later. Here's how I handle the freezing, storing, and reheating to ensure it stays as delicious as the day it was made:
- Cool Completely: Before freezing, make sure the Pollo Saltado is completely cooled. This helps prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to sogginess.
- Portion It Out: I divide the dish into meal-sized portions and place them in airtight, freezer-safe containers or Ziplock bags.
- Label: Don't forget to label with the date. It should keep well for up to 2-3 months in the freezer.
- Refrigerate: If I'm planning on eating it within a few days, I simply put the cooled Pollo Saltado in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. It should stay good for about 3-4 days.
- Thawing: If frozen, I always make sure to thaw the Pollo Saltado in the fridge overnight.
- Skillet or Microwave: For the best texture, I reheat the dish in a skillet over medium heat until it's warmed through. If I'm in a hurry, the microwave also does the job, but the texture might not be as crisp.
- Moisture Balance: Sometimes, reheating can make the dish a bit dry. If that happens, I add a splash of water or chicken broth during the reheating process.
Lomo Saltado - a classic Peruvian stir fry dish. This recipe combines tender strips of marinated beef, sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and spicy peppers, served on a bed of crispy french fries and accompanied by a side of perfectly cooked white rice.
Saltado de Pollo (Peruvian Stir-Fried Chicken)
- Large skillet or wok
For the Marinade:
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste adjust to taste
- 2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish optional
Marinating the Chicken
- In a mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Place the thinly sliced chicken in a Ziplock bag and pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag and mix well to ensure the chicken is evenly coated. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Cooking the Stir-Fry
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the marinated chicken. Cook until the chicken is browned and fully cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add the sliced onion and bell peppers. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.
- Stir in the aji amarillo paste, mixing well with the vegetables.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
- Return the cooked chicken to the skillet, mixing it with the vegetables.
- Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of oregano. Stir well to combine.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- If you're using cilantro, sprinkle it over the stir-fry just before serving.
Saltado de Pollo (Peruvian Stir-Fried Chicken) - FAQ
Absolutely, chicken thighs can bring even more flavor due to their higher fat content. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as thighs may take a little longer to cook through.
If aji amarillo is unavailable, you can substitute with another chili paste or even hot sauce. However, the flavor profile will change a bit. Serrano or jalapeño peppers can also work as a replacement.
The sauce in Pollo Saltado is generally quite thin, but if you like it thicker, you can mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with two teaspoons of water and add it to the skillet while cooking.
Traditionally, Pollo Saltado is served with steamed rice or fried potatoes. Some people also like to accompany it with a side of avocado slices or a simple green salad.
You can marinate the chicken and chop the vegetables in advance to save time. However, the dish is best when freshly stir-fried and served hot.