Pollo Saltado

Pollo Saltado (Peruvian stir-fried chicken) is a Chinese-Peruvian fusion dish in the Chifa style. Tender chicken breast is stir-fried with red onion, ají amarillo chile pepper, and tomato, and served with potatoes and rice. This savory and delicious dish is so quick and easy, it’s sure to be a new family favorite!

A black plate with pollo saltado, french fries, and Peruvian rice alongside ají amarillo paste and chopped cilantro.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Chifa and Pollo Saltado

Chifa is a culinary tradition originating in Peru that combines Chinese Cantonese cooking methods and ingredients with Peruvian ingredients. The Chinese immigrants began arriving in Peru (mostly around Lima) in the 1920s, and came with only the most basic ingredients like soy sauce. Because they didn’t have access to many of the ingredients required to cook the traditional dishes of their homeland, they learned to adapt.

Soy sauce, ginger, and scallions make their way into many Peruvian Chifa dishes. Quinoa chaufa is the Chifa version of fried rice, and my recipe includes all three. Soy sauce, ginger, and scallions make their way into this pollo saltado, and the flavor is complemented by Peruvian chile – ají amarillo – and ground cumin.

Lomo saltado is by far the most common “saltado” (stir fry). “Lomo” is beef. We limit beef consumption at Andersen casa, so I decided to focus on pollo saltado/chicken stir fry. At some point, I’d like to do saltado de mariscos (seafood) because I live near the Gulf of Mexico, and we have amazing seafood available. Vegan saltado using portobello slices in place of the chicken is also an intriguing possibility!

This Peruvian stir-fried chicken is really a simple dish. After the chicken and vegetables are stir-fried with garlic, ginger, and cumin, an ultra simple sauce is made with soy sauce and vinegar. Peruvians always serve it with both rice and potatoes (french fries). Yes, Peruvians love their carbs! Of course the rice and potatoes absorb the sauce!

I’m a little averse to anything fried, so I cut my fries, tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and air fried them. Feel free to splurge if you’re so inclined!

📋 Ingredients Notes

Ingredients for pollo saltado: Chicken, cilantro, rice, potatoes, oil, cumin, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, ají amarillo, scallions, red onion, tomatoes.

Peruvian Chicken Stir Fry Ingredients

  • chicken – You can use either boneless chicken breast or thighs according to preference.
  • red onions – I would not suggest you can’t use a different onion, but Peruvians use a LOT OF RED ONION, and the color is so appealing on the plate! Cut thick slices to prevent them from getting over-cooked and mushy.
  • ají amarillo – On photo day, I had a jar of water-packed ají amarillo peppers, and they worked out beautifully. I have never seen the fresh ones in the US. Frozen peppers would be another option. Lastly, you can substitute another fresh pepper like Fresno chiles, or you can use a little ají amarillo paste and a sweet bell pepper.
  • tomatoes – I like roma tomatoes for this stir-fry as they hold up well to the high heat. I take the extra step of removing the seedy core to reduce the amount of liquid going into the hot pan. I quarter them lengthwise, and use a paring knife to remove the core. I haven’t tried it yet, but tiny tomatoes left hole might be a good alternative. I love them blistered in a hot pan!
  • scallions
  • potatoes – I use Yukon gold potatoes and hand cut them, but you can use prepared french fries if you want to save the time.
  • rice – I use basmati rice, but you can use your preferred long grain rice. Cook according to package directions.
  • garlic
  • fresh ginger – Either grate fresh ginger root, or add a scoop of minced ginger (a great time saver!).
  • ground cumin
  • soy sauce – I use tamari soy sauce which has the added benefit of being gluten free.
  • saltines – Saltines are the traditional thickener for huancaína sauce. If gluten is a problem, omit or substitute with gluten free saltines. It will still be plenty thick.

🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Start the Air Fryer Potatoes and Rice – Preheat the air fryer to 380°. Spray the pan with non-stick spray. Toss the prepared sliced potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 14 to 16 minutes, turning halfway, until they’re crispy and brown.
  • Cook 1/2 cup rice according to package instructions. While both sides cook, make the pollo saltado.
Step 1 - Chicken and cumin in a cast iron skillet.
  • Sear the chicken – Add a drizzle of oil to a wok or cast iron skillet on high heat. When the pan starts to smoke a little, add the chicken in a single layer, and sprinkle the cumin over the top. Don’t touch the chicken for 1-2 minutes so that you get a solid sear on the bottom side.
Step 2 -
  • Stir-fry the chicken – Stir the chicken pieces to finish cooking. Scrape the chicken with its juices into a bowl, and set aside.
  • Sear the red onion – Get the pan smoking hot before adding the red onion. Like the chicken, let the onion pieces rest for 1-2 minutes to sear before stirring. Once you see some deep brown color, you can start stir-frying the onion until it barely begins to soften – a total of about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan, and set aside. NOTE: You can add them to the bowl with the chicken.
  • Stir-fry the other veggies – Add the tomatoes, ají amarillo (or other peppers), scallions, minced garlic and ginger. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes until fragrant and crisp tender.
  • Finish the chicken stir-fry – Add the chicken and red onions back into the pan on medium-high heat. Stir to combine.
  • Finish the pollo saltado – Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and a little broth if desired. Let the mixture come to a boil and remove from the heat.
A cast iron skillet with the stir-fried pollo saltado ready to serve.
The finished stir-fried pollo saltado is ready to plate with rice and potatoes!

🍋 Variations

  • vegan saltado – Substitute strips of portobello mushrooms for the chicken.
  • kid-friendly – Ají amarillo peppers are spicy. Try substituting sweet bell peppers for a mild version.
  • gluten free – Use tamari rather than soy sauce. Most soy sauce has wheat in it. Tamari is typically brewed with all soy beans. Be sure to check the label if gluten sensitivity is an issue.

💭 Tips

Given the simplicity of this saltado recipe, it is important to use the freshest ingredients, and good quality sauces (soy sauce and vinegar).

Freezer potatoes/fries are a great time saver.

Air frying or roasting the potatoes reduces fat and calories.

Batch stir-frying results in seared food rather than the steamed food you get in a crowded pan. If you like the slightly charred edges, you’re more likely to be happy with the results.

A wok is a great piece of equipment for stir-frying, but I’m often happier with the results I get using my large cast iron skillet. It really holds the high heat well!

Thick slices or wedges of red onion will allow you to sear/brown them without making them soft and mushy.

❓ FAQ

What can I substitute for the ají amarillo pepper(s)?

I find that red Fresno chiles have a similar fruity heat to the ají amarillo. You can also use a little ají amarillo paste (more widely available) and add a sweet bell pepper.

Are the leftovers good?

Yes and no. The stir-fried chicken and veggies are great leftover with the rice. I don’t care for the leftover fries. You can keep the leftover pollo saltado for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊

Stir-fries have always been a “go to” weeknight meal because they come together so quickly. This pollo saltado is no exception. I hope you’ll give it a try!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

A black plate with pollo saltado, french fries, and Peruvian rice with black flatware and garnishes.

Pollo Saltado (Peruvian Stir-Fried Chicken)

This Chinese-Peruvian fusion stir fry combines tender chicken, tomatoes, and red onion with soy sauce, vinegar, and ají amarillo chile. Served with rice and french fries, it's a Peruvian Chifa classic!
4.80 from 5 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 545 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast - or thighs, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 red onion - cut in thick slices or wedges
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced - about 3 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes - cut in quarters lengthwise and cored
  • 1 ají amarillo peppers - stem and seeds removed, sliced thin
  • 3 scallions - cut in 1" pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sherry, red wine, or apple cider vinegar
  • cooked rice
  • potatoes - fries or wedges, cooked
  • cilantro - chopped

Instructions

  • Start the air fryer fries if using. Preheat the air fryer to 380°. Spray the pan with non-stick spray. Toss the prepared sliced potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 14 to 16 minutes, turning halfway, until they're crispy and brown.
  • Start the rice.
  • After getting the wok or skillet smoking hot, add the oil. Add the cubed chicken, and sprinkle with cumin.
  • Add a drizzle of oil to a wok or cast iron skillet on high heat. Sear then stir-fry the chicken. Remove from the pan with its juices.
  • Get the pan smoking hot again before adding the red onion. Sear and stir-fry the onion. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the tomatoes, ají amarillo (or other peppers), scallions, minced garlic and ginger. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes until fragrant and crisp tender.
  • Add the chicken and red onions back into the pan on medium-high heat. Stir to combine.
  • Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and a little broth if desired. Let the mixture come to a boil and remove from the heat.
  • To serve: Plate the pollo saltado alongside the rice and potatoes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Notes

Macronutrients are an approximation only and include 1/2 cup cooked rice and 1 medium Yukon gold potato per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 545kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 11g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

Share this post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 Comments

  1. Recipe calls for stir frying the onions but doesn’t say remove them when done, but pictures suggest that is the case, as does the recipe that says “add the onions and chicken.” You might want to correct this to prevent confusion for new cooks

    1. Thank you Alan! Even with both my husband and adult son proofreading, we sometimes miss things! I will address this ASAP. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I found this recipe a week ago and have made it three times already. Each time, I incorporate something different or do something different but all three times it turns out amazing. It’s hard to find something the whole family will enjoy, but this is it. It is simple enough to whip up on a weeknight.

  3. The instructions say to add the minced garlic and ginger which is not on the ingredients list, thankfully I had some on hand!

    1. Hi Zoe! I’m sorry for any confusion! I do the Ingredients Notes, and the recipe card, and even my awesome proofreaders miss some stuff. Thanks for letting me know! I’ve edited the recipe card. I hope you enjoyed the recipe!

      1. I’m happy you found my comment helpful I am making this now and will be back to tell you how it turns out. I’m excited for this dish 😋

    2. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Even with a son and a husband proofreading, we still manage to make mistakes. I’m glad you had it covered! I’ve edited the recipe card to include it.

  4. I love the look of and the ingredients in the recipe. Quite a different flavor profile than I was expecting. Thanks for sharing.