What is Silpancho?
When I first visited Bolivia with my husband, I fell in love with the people, culture, music and especially the food. Bolivian Food is a gastronomical awakening of the tastes. Silpancho was by far one of my favorite meals. Silpancho is a typical traditional Bolivian meal. It seems the origins of this delicious meal are from the Cochabamba region. The word Silpancho comes from the Quechua language (sillp’anchu) and it means thin & pounded meat. The plate usually consists of a thin & pounded steak, rice, potatoes, eggs and a tomato salad. Even though, these are all common ingredients, the combinations of flavors in one plate is just perfect and makes for a special dish!Jump to Recipe
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I try to cook this dish occasionally because I really like the combination of flavors, despite having to fry some of the foods. My kids love it too!! I cut the meat in pieces for them and they love the mix of meat, potatoes, rice and salad. They aren’t too crazy about the egg on top:).
I’ve modified the version I cook at home a little bit because of the kids. I remember the tomato salad that topped the meat in Bolivia had some locoto in it, giving it a perfect level of spiciness. I prepare spicy llajua on the side (see recipe for llajua by clicking on the link) and I don’t add locoto to the tomato salad. That way the kids’ plates are not spicy and my husband & I can add llajua on top to add spice to the dish.
How to Pick the Meat for Silpancho?
When picking the meat for this dish, try to choose an already thin beef slice, usually a top sirloin. The meat department at my grocery store would do this on demand. Even after buying a thin cut of the meat, you should pound it with a meat mallet to thin it even more and make it even. If you ever cook schnitzel or milanesa, you might already be familiar with this method.
Recipe Variations of Silpancho
I’ve come across several variations of this dish. For example, a family friend uses ground beef to create the fried meat steak. She makes it like a meatball then spreads it out and fries it. Another variation I’ve come across was the toppings for the salad. Mostly the toppings for the salad are tomatoes, onions, green pepper and locoto but I’ve tried it in few restaurants with carrots and beets mixed in the salad as well. I need to do some more reading and figure out if the variations are regional or just chef’s preferences.
My Variations of the Silpancho Recipe
I for example add some parsley on the finished plate just as decoration. Also, the meat in Bolivia is fried in vegetable oil but in my house I use olive oil. That’s where my Mediterranean upbringing comes in, I barely ever use anything other than olive oil to cook. And I do understand it’s not the best frying oil. So feel free to customize to your liking certain details of my recipe.
My Bolivian Silpancho Recipe
If you are new to my blog, I wanted to share than I am from Albania and my husband from Bolivia. I share Albanian and Bolivian recipes in my blog so we could share with our kids a little bit from the countries where we came from. However, as is the case specifically with this Silpancho recipe, I have to make several adjustments since I can’t find the same exact ingredients as in Bolivia. So I usually say my recipes are inspired by the Bolivian version that my husband’s family shares with me.
I hope you enjoy it:)
Bolivian Silpancho – Meat, Eggs, Rice, Potatoes and Salad on One Plate
- 1.5 lbs thin sliced top sirloin
- 8 eggs assuming 2 eggs per person, adjust as needed.
- 1 cup olive oil the original recipe is cooked with vegetable oil
- 8 medium yucon potatoes
- 4 tomatoes 4 tomatoes on the vine or 6 roma tomatoes since those are smaller
- 1 small red onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- fresh parsley for garnishing
- pinch salt/pepper add salt/pepper to taste
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 2 cups rice You can cook this the night before
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Put the potatoes in a pot covered with water, turn heat to high. Boil until you can pierce them but be careful not to overdo it.
- Cook rice separately, you can even do this the night before.
- While the potatoes boil, pound the beef slices with a meat mallet and then coat them with breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper at this point too.
- Fry meat in hot oil for about 1-2 minutes each side depending on how thin the meat is. Remove from frying pan and place in a plate with paper towel. Let it cool there while you fry the rest. The paper towel will absorb the oil from the meat.
- Once the potatoes have boiled and are soft enough to pierce with a fork, put them aside to cool for a bit, then peel them. Cut them in medallion shapes and fry them on each side, sprinkle with salt and place them in another plate with paper towel to absorb the oil.
- While you are frying the potatoes, chop tomatoes, onion and green pepper in diced shape. Mix them together in a bowl. Add 2 spoons of olive oil, 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar and salt to taste. Mix well and put aside.
- Lastly, fry the eggs. Usually the preferred choice for this dish is sunny side up.
- Put the plate together. You can put rice on bottom, then steak on top or rice on the side and the steak on the other side of the plate. It’s up to your taste. Add fried potatoes on the side. Put the egg on top of the steak, add salad all around as desired and decorate with parsley.