Silpancho or sillp’anchu’ is an emblematic dish of the Bolivian cuisine.
What is the origin of silpancho?
Its origin is not particularly old as it appeared in the department of Cochabamba in central Bolivia in the middle of last century.
It consists of rice, potatoes, finely spread ground beef, breaded and fried in the manner of the famous Viennese schnitzel. This kind of steak patty covers the whole plate before being topped with one or two fried eggs cooked in oil or lard and some raw vegetables, usually fresh and juicy tomatoes as well as red onions that bring a flavor that is very slightly sweet to the dish.
We owe the invention of silpancho to the cook Celia la Fuente Peredo who was the first to combine these different ingredients to make a delicious dish. It is so emblematic of the region of Cochabamba and its prefecture of the same name that it is even the only dish on the menu of most restaurants in the city.
In 2000, her creator, Celia la Fuente Peredo, received the Medal of Merit from the civil society and in 2010, she received the bicentennial medal in the category Alejo Calatayud Distinction category of the Municipal Government of Cochabamba by the government. Two very important national recognitions in Bolivia. Her contribution to the Bolivian cuisine and gastronomy of the department of Cochabamaba is still recognized and appreciated today by all the foodies of the country.
How to prepare silpancho
It is not uncommon to find some variations from one restaurant to another such as the presence of raw or cooked carrots, crumbled or chopped cheese, fresh parsley or even salads. The meal is assembled in the same plate or in different small ramekins that complete the meal.
Silpancho and the street lights of Cochabamba
At night in Cochabamba, people can walk around thanks to the light bulbs that indicate the presence of this dish in the various restaurants in the city. If the bulb is covered, it means that the restaurant is preparing delicious silpancho. Until recently, the municipal lighting of Cochabamba was still scarce and did not light up all the streets of the city, so for many Bolivians, these light bulbs that indicated the availability of silpancho at the restaurants were the only city lights at night.
These childhood memories contribute largely to the success of the dish in the collective memory of Bolivians. The children often brought a plate from their home and went to buy silpancho from old ladies who prepared it for a few bolivianos (the currency of the country).
For expatriates, it is always a pleasure to taste it while remembering stories from their home country. It’s easy to notice that everything in this dish makes it a real comforting food. The breaded and fried meat is perfectly crisp. The creamy egg brings a lot of softness and comfort. The vegetables bring freshness and the rice and potatoes make it a hearty meal. Ground cumin is usually added to the meat, which is an excellent addition to the flavors of this recipe. Finishing with a drizzle of lemon juice carries the taste buds magnificently.
We particularly enjoyed this dish, that is very generous and comforting. It is a real festival of flavors, a traditional complete meal that will perfectly satisfy both young and old.
- 24 oz. ground beef
- 3 potatoes (firm-fleshed), peeled
- 4 tomatoes , peeled, seeded, diced
- 3 onions , diced
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 6 eggs
- ½ bunch parsley
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- 2 cups rice
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 oz. breadcrumbs
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Frying oil
- Mix the tomatoes and onions. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar and set aside.
- Place the whole potatoes in a large pot of cold water.
- Add salt and lemon juice and boil until cooked but still firm.
- Place in the refrigerator to cool them while preparing the rest of the recipe.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil and fry the rice and garlic for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Add 3 cups of boiling water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the rice for 10 to 12 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, prepare the steaks.
- Beat two eggs.
Make 4 thin patties with the ground beef. Season the patties with salt, cumin and black pepper.
- Dredge the steaks in the flour on both sides, then pat them to remove the excess.
- Plunge the steaks into the beaten eggs and finally dip them in the breadcrumbs until they are evenly covered.
- Heat a large amount of cooking oil in a skillet.
- Fry the steaks over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side, until they are golden brown.
- Place the steaks on paper towel to remove excess oil and keep them warm.
- Take the potatoes out of the refrigerator and cut them into slices or cubes.
- Heat a large amount of cooking oil in a skillet.
- Dip the potatoes and fry until golden brown. Place them on paper towels.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in a pan and fry the remaining 4 eggs.
- First, place a layer of hot rice over the entire surface of the plate.
- Add the sliced potatoes on one side and steak on the other.
- Place an egg on top.
- Then garnish with the tomato and onion salad on top.
- To finish, sprinkle a little chopped parsley.